This is an evaluation of Terrell Suggs from Pro Football Focus, who plays the same hybrid role that pace did (sad comparison if you are a jet fan).
At Pro Football Focus, on any given snap, we define defensive linemen as someone who has their hand on the ground when the ball is snapped. Using this definition, 54% of Suggs snaps came as a defensive end when there were four defensive linemen, and another 23% came as a defensive end with just three or fewer defensive linemen.
On the other hand, he lined up 17% as an outside linebacker when there were four linebackers, and just 4% of his time came as a linebacker with three linebackers or less on the field. If you’re doing the math, you’ll notice that those percentages don’t add up to 100 – the rest of his playing time came in odd snaps as a defensive tackle, middle linebacker, or linebacker playing in the slot.
Suggs played as a defensive end three times as much as he played outside linebacker.
However, while we strongly believe he should be considered a defensive end, there is one aspect of his play that is more linebacker-like. Typically, defensive linemen are substituted in and out of games to keep them fresh or to take advantage of a situation. Top linebackers, on the other hand, often play every down or close to it. Suggs played in 98.3% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps this year.
Looking at these numbers, Suggs lined up as a DE with his hand on the ground 77% of the time. He also played a little DT along with about 1 in every 5 snaps as an OLB standing up.
Given those %, and the fact that coples, wilkerson and even ellis are all better suited to a 3-4, there is no reason at all to "change" our philosophy. Furthermore, when looking at the draft, Ansahs size/strength combination as a “projected 4-3 DE” is actually a perfect fit for the hybrid role we would need him to play.
He can line up as a DE with those 2 as an athletic 3 man line. He can be a “4th Dlineman” if we bring ellis/NT in. Or he can play off the line and use his athleticism and height to clog passing lanes in space as an OLB.
No need to change our philosophy as it is ever changing as it is.