While our defense has a ton of 3-4 tendencies, we dont run a traditional steelers-type 3-4 defense. What we actually need on defense is a straight up pass rushing DE, regardless of their size.
Rex has a great track record developing the trevor pryce, devito, etc types and we have some good ones on this team, and should be able to find future ones in the 3-6th round of this and/or future drafts.
The player Rex had in baltimore that we are missing is the Suggs-type pass rusher. He has played his whole career in the 260lb range as an edge rush-DE and fit into that defense perfectly.
Im not saying we are going to be able to find another Suggs, guy has been a monster....but I dont think the focus needs to be on a Heyward-esque DE. Id rather add some speed and pass rush ability to the defense and let Rex fit the other pieces around that player.
Numbers dont tell the whole story. Opposing offenses almost exlusively double Suggs on the outside and account for him on every play. We dont have that kind of player nor athlete on our defense.
Ngata is great, no question. But we are fine with our pluggers up front. They keep our LBs clean and stop the run.
Actually, alot of Suggs' improvements came in coverage and thats at least some of why his sack numbers went down. Rex and Pettine said that they started dropping him back into coverage more and giving him more complicated assignments and he nailed them...They called some of his best post-sack seasons his best because he rounded out his game so well. No doubt he demands attention, but Pace does much the same...It's just that he hasn't been healthy this year.
Either way...I expect the front 7 to be overhauled by 2012 or 2013 anyway...Two of the three starting pluggers are close to their mid-30's, and the pass rushing specialists at OLB and DE are both in their mid-30's.