On Nose Tackles...

As best I can tell, there are 9 teams in the NFL that primarily ran a 3-4 defense this season: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Diego, New England, New York (Jets), Miami, San Francisco, and Cleveland.

This means that there are 9 starting Nose Tackles right now: Haloti Ngata, Casey Hampton, Jay Ratliff, Jamal Williams, Vince Wilfork, Kris Jenkins, Jason Ferguson, Isaac Sopoaga, and Shaun Rogers.

Of the 9 NT's:

   3 are 1st round picks (Ngata, Hampton, and Wilfork)

  3 are second round picks (Wiliams, Jenkins, and Rogers)

  3 are later round picks (Ferguson, Sopoaga, and Rogers).

  3 have played for more than one NFL team (Rogers, Jenkins and, Ferguson) and only Jason Ferguson has played for more than one 3-4 team.


What's immediately evident in those numbers is just how hard it is to get a nose tackle. Once a 3-4 team gets a good NT, they pretty much don't give him up. Ferguson, the only NT to have played for multiple teams is 34 and Dallas gave up on him last year after he missed 15 games in the 2007 season. Otherwise, Ferguson is just like Jenkins and Rogers, a 4-3 DT who was lured away from the team that drafted him to play NT in a 3-4. NT's aren't easy to find in the draft, either- 2/3's of the NT's in the league were high picks, and among the other 3, Ferguson, as mentioned above is on his last legs, Sopoaga has not been any better than mediocre for the 49'ers (in fact the 49'ers apparently planned to move him to DE before the season), and Jay Ratliff... made the Pro Bowl this year.

Ratliff's Pro Bowl appearance may be an oversimplification, however (he plays for the Cowboys, for one), as he plays in a 1 gap Bum Phillips system designed for pass rush. A former DE himself, Ratliff is no larger (at 298) than either of the DE's who flank him and Dallas schemes to get him single blocked by Centers, which is a big part of why he got 7.5 sacks in 2008 (which is why he went to the pro bowl). My point about Ratliff is that he really isn't at all a traditional 2 gap NT who takes on multiple blockers.


So where am I going with this? Denver needs a NT. Denver REALLY needs a NT. Even if the Bronco's aren't planning on moving to a 3-4 immediately, we need a good 2 gap NT. The Bronco's have two routes to accomplish this goal: steal one from another team- and since 3-4 teams don't seem to let go of NT's, we'd have to look at 4-3 DT's who we think can play nose. Alternately, we can look for a Nose Tackle in the draft.

What this all means is that the a good NT isn't going to come cheap- if we aren't willing to either shell out good money for a Haynesworth type player, shell out draft picks in a trade (and at this point no viable player is on the trading block), or spend a high pick this year in the draft. What do y'all think?

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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