What switching to a 4-3 could mean for the current Lions players

Jahlani Tavai (51), Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44), Detroit Lions (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Jahlani Tavai (51), Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44), Detroit Lions (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports) /

Switching to a 4-3? The Linebackers

While the Lions did run more four-man fronts this season compared to Patricia’s first two, this roster was put together with 3-4 principals and the players reflect that.

Below I’ll give a short summary of what each player may or may not bring to both schemes. Followed by a ‘Transition Grade’ to gauge how flawless a switch to a 4-3 base may or may not be. The higher the grade the easier the transition.

  • (A) switch would help, a lot
  • (B) switch would help
  • (C) switch wouldn’t matter
  • (D) switch would hurt
  • (E) switch would hurt, a lot

Let’s see what a transition might mean with all those Quinntricia scheme-fits …

Austin Bryant (6-5, 263lb)

Bryant has been most successful when positioned as split wide-EDGE with fewer, or smaller, bodies to tie him up. He really struggles when contested, therefore, he will never be a successful true defensive end in either scheme until he can show the ability to shed NFL blockers.

Bryant has a sub-package role in either defense but best fits as a situational big 4-3 outside linebacker where he could line up in the ‘wide-nine technique’ with a defensive end tying up the tackle. Here he would have less traffic to quarterback and/or be able to stunt-crash inside or crash down latterly on the rusher.

Transition Grade: B- (switch would help)

Jamie Collins Sr. (6-3, 255lb)

Collins is a freak athlete and the ultimate swiss-army knife at linebacker, for any scheme. He has the strength and explosion to be an on-ball pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker, the speed to be an off-ball 4-3 coverage linebacker, and anything in between.

End of story.

Transition Grade: C (switch shouldn’t matter)