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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Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions
Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /

Jarrad Davis (6-1, 245lb)

Davis was the MIKE linebacker in Florida’s 4-3 defense and that’s what he was drafted for Terryl Austin’s 4-3 scheme. He was the Lions starting MIKE since his rookie 2016 season before being sent all the way down to their fifth linebacker in Week 3 of 2020. From Weeks 3-14, Davis saw just 25% of the defensive snaps. But, he also played the best football of his career in that reduced role.

After being the three-year starter at MIKE, he’s played MIKE less than any other linebacker position this past season. Playing more WILL and JACK in 2020, Davis has been used in a more situational rush and run role, highlighting his athletic abilities and covering his coverage handicaps.

Davis fits best in a four-man front as a situational rocket off the EDGE with a speed-rush or a stunt-blitzer. A switch in defense shouldn’t matter too much in that reduced role though he’s thrived in this year, as there would be sub-packages for him in both schemes.

Transition Grade: C+ (switch would help, but not much)

Christian Jones (6-2, 250lb)

At 250lbs Jones is the prototypical big 3-4 outside linebacker Patricia preferred for his defense, someone who can set the EDGE and rush the passer. In a 4-3

But it’s not what is most valued for 4-3 linebackers, they’ll be asked to drop back in coverage far more often than Jones is tasked with as primarily a LOLB in the Lions current scheme. It’s like Jones would be a down defensive end in the case of a 4-3 switch, where you could surely find better.

Transition Grade: D- (switch would hurt)