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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    DT Brodrick Bunkley, Revisited (long)

    Three weeks ago, I said the following regarding Florida State DT Brodrick Bunkley and the Rams:

    In another thread, I commented on the fact that I don't think the Rams should draft Brodrick Bunkley in the first round. I thought it would be beneficial to create a thread to elaborate on why.

    Bunkley had an oustanding senior season, racking up 23 tackles for loss with nine sacks. He's a very quick and athletic player, who can move well laterally down the line. He's a good pass rushing defensive tackle who has displayed good upper body strength and a good motor.

    However, he doesn't fit what we're looking for in an immediate need. After signing La'Roi Glover and letting Ryan Pickett walk, the Rams are in need of a big run-stuffing nose tackle. That's a role that Jimmy Kennedy will likely compete for, but if the Rams draft Bunkley and expect him to start next to Glover, they're going to find themselves suseptible to inside runs because neither Bunkley or Glover have great size for the defensive tackle position and neither are big run-stuffing nose tackles.

    Furthermore, Bunkley has some injury concerns and off the field issues that should raise red flags. He tore his left ACL in high school, and then tore his left MCL in 2002. He has a bit of a nagging ankle injury from last season, and defensive tackles with ankle injuries are something we've had bad experience with in the past. He's not known for an exceptional work ethic, either.

    You could draft Bunkley with the expectation of him spelling Glover at the under tackle position and eventually (if everything works out) taking over that position when Glover either retires or is a free agent. But if the Rams are looking for a player to compliment Glover on the line and compete with Kennedy for a starting job, I don't think Bunkley is the answer.
    Not long ago, Rams GM Charlie Armey appeared on local radio and did not talk to host Randy Karraker at all about defensive tackles. Karraker then stated how, in his opinion, there was no chance the Rams took a DT in the first round.

    But consider the following:

    • Multiple sources close to the team - including Post Dispatch writer Jim Thomas and official site writer Nick Wagoner - have detailed the Rams' interest in Bunkley. Said Thomas, "The team likes Florida State DT Brodrick Bunkley as another first-round possibility; he has the kind of pass-rushing and penetrating skills coordinator Jim Haslett covets." Wagoner, regarding potential first round Rams picks, said "Right now, it seems that Maryland tight end Vernon Davis, Texas defensive back Michael Huff and Florida State defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley have nudged to the forefront."

    • Both Rams head coach Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett were present for Florida State's pro day in mid-March. Furthermore, the Rams made it a point to schedule Bunkley for a pre-draft visit this last week.


    Now, I stand by what I said in my previous post: if the Rams are looking for a big run-stuffing nose tackle in the mold of Ryan Pickett who could play the nose in the 3-4, I don't think Bunkley is the answer. Haloti Ngata fills that role better, and most fans tend to think that's what the Rams need since newly-signed tackle La'Roi Glover fits the pass rushing DT mold already. Furthermore, consider that it was around that time when the Grady Jackson rumor had surfaced, and that combined with the Rams' interest in resigning Pickett seemed to indicate that the team wanted a big-bodied nose tackle.

    However, if Thomas is accurate in saying that Haslett's scheme/preference is for a faster, penetrating defensive tackle, sort of in that Cover 2 type mold where the defensive lineman are all athletic and quick, and you have to believe there's at least some truth to it considering the Rams' presence at the pro day as well as the number of sources citing the team's interest, then Bunkley makes a lot of sense.

    Let's start by talking measurables, since I already covered his abilities and production in my post three weeks ago. This guy ran a sub-five second forty time and put up 44 reps of 225 on the bench. Both of those numbers are impressive, but perhaps more impressive are his shuttle (4.16) and three cone (7.33) numbers, which are comparible to some of the outside linebackers in this class! For those of you who go ga-ga over workout warriors, you should find those numbers tantalizing.

    Another important aspect to consider is how Bunkley fits into the 3-4 scheme, since we know Haslett wants to mix in some of those looks. I've already stated that Ngata is a better choice if we're looking for the run stuffing two gap Ted Washington-type nose tackle. If I'm looking for a guy to play across from the center in the 3-4 alignment, Haloti is my man. But Bunkley is not an odd man out in the 3-4. His size, strength, athleticism, and ability to play both the run and the pass make him a very intriguing fit for a 3-4 defensive end, IMO.

    Just thinking out loud here, but the Rams' normal 4-3 defensive front seven alignment could look like this:

    Code:
            RDE        DT        DT      LDE
          Hargrove   Bunkley   Glover   Little
      WLB                 MLB                 SLB
    Tinoisamoa         Witherspoon          Chillar
    But let's say the Rams want to mix in some 3-4 looks. Now they could rotate personnel and do this:

    Code:
            RDE        DT        DT      LDE
          Hargrove   Kennedy   Bunkley  Little
      WLB                 MLB                 SLB
    Tinoisamoa         Witherspoon          Chillar
    And then, you tell Little to back off of the line and play up as a rush outside linebacker. Your three-man line now looks like:

    Code:
            RDE            NT         LDE
          Hargrove       Kennedy    Bunkley 
      OLB           ILB          ILB       OLB
    Tinoisamoa   Witherspoon    Chillar   Little
    While I don't think Hargrove is a great fit as a 3-4 defensive end, it's a minor weakness in the alignment. This would allow the Rams to show a basic 4-3 front, but shift one of their ends (in this case Little) back from the line and present more of a 3-4 look. We already have Witherspoon playing in the middle, so he would remain an inside linebacker in this package. Chillar has great size for the position, and if he's lined up at SLB, could shift in to the other ILB spot. Then you've got Pisa and Little outside to chase down the quarterback or the ball carrier. And your sub of Kennedy in for Glover gives you your nose tackle while Bunkley moves to the LDE spot vacated by Little. I'm not claiming to be a defensive coordinator or a scheme mastermind, but from what I do know about defenses, that looks like a pretty intruging technique.

    So while Bunkley isn't a huge run stuffer like Ngata, and may not have fit the mold of what many Rams fans including myself would have thought the defense was needing, it appears more and more that the Rams are in fact interested in Bunkley, and a closer analysis reveals why. Bunkley doesn't have the massive frame of Ngata, but holds his own at the point of attack on the line. He has good upper body strength and plays with good leverage. He will collapse the pocket as a bull rusher, and tracks the ball well. He's explosive off of the line, and judging by his 25 tackles for loss in 2005 alone, can make plays in the opponent's backfield.

    So the more I think about it, and the more I compare what we know now to what we knew then, it seems more and more that Bunkley not only has a real shot at going 11th overall to St. Louis, but also could be a great fit in what Jim Haslett wants to do defensively.

    Questions, comments, opinions, and feedback are all welcome.


  2. #2
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    Re: DT Brodrick Bunkley, Revisited (long)

    Good analysis. I was never all that convinced that we would never consider a defensive tackle in the first round. The only thing I would add is that if I'm not mistaken, La'Roi Glover said he had played 3-4 DE at some point. If that's true, he could potentially take the place of Hargrove in that 4-3/3-4 model.

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: DT Brodrick Bunkley, Revisited (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece
    Good analysis. I was never all that convinced that we would never consider a defensive tackle in the first round. The only thing I would add is that if I'm not mistaken, La'Roi Glover said he had played 3-4 DE at some point. If that's true, he could potentially take the place of Hargrove in that 4-3/3-4 model.
    Very true. My concern though is that if you have a front four that features Glover, Kennedy, Bunkley, and Little, because of the presence of three defensive tackles with one lined up at end, you may be giving away the shift prior to actually executing it.

    With Hargrove manning the RDE spot, the Rams could still play 4-3 out of that look. Or they could shift. We wouldn't be showing our hand as much as we would if we had Glover at RDE. But from a standpoint of can Glover do it, he certainly can.

    Interestingly enough, you could also show more of a 5-2 front like this:

    Code:
      RDE       DT      NT       DT      LDE
    Hargrove  Glover  Kennedy  Bunkley  Little
                 LB                 LB
             Witherspoon          Chillar
    And then move both Hargrove and Little up to rushing OLBs on either side of Witherspoon and Chillar, and essentially accomplish the task of using Glover and Bunkley at DE in a 3-4 alignment.

    It would be pretty interesting to see the opponent's reaction if Haslett sent out five linemen and two 'backers on maybe a 3rd and 4 or less, only to have the front seven shift into a 3-4 and completely throw a wrench in the QB's pre-snap read.

  4. #4
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    Re: DT Brodrick Bunkley, Revisited (long)

    thats cool having little at OLB in 3-4

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    Re: DT Brodrick Bunkley, Revisited (long)

    Nice work, Nick. Let's hope Hargrove gets more consistent this year. He sure has the potential. With the right coaching this could be his year. To me that's the wildcard right now.

    If we take Ngata instead of Bunkley how would you see him fitting into the defensive schemes? Would he be a backup to Kennedy only or would we ever see him and Kennedy on the line together?

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    Re: DT Brodrick Bunkley, Revisited (long)

    That's an interesting analysis regarding the draft and the defensive scheme. I don't know if we would necessarily have to draft Bunkley in order to switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 on an audible, or in other words, it wouldn't be dependent on that (which I'm sure you are not suggesting, just throwing that out there).
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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: DT Brodrick Bunkley, Revisited (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by viper
    If we take Ngata instead of Bunkley how would you see him fitting into the defensive schemes? Would he be a backup to Kennedy only or would we ever see him and Kennedy on the line together?
    I think to see him and Kennedy on the line at the same time, it would have to be a down which we were expecting a run. Probably a short yardage down or one inside the red zone, maybe inside the ten. That way you'd better clog up the running lanes and keep blockers off of your linebackers.

    As for Ngata, I think he'd probably take Kennedy's place on the nose in the 3-4, meaning Kennedy would not be on the field in that package, and then would rotate with Kennedy as the nose in the 4-3. While a player like Bunkley could start next to Glover (or Kennedy for that matter) and then just slide over, I don't think you could put both Kennedy and Ngata on the field in a 3-4, unless you want to try Ngata at end, which I don't think is as ideal.

    So with that said...


    Quote Originally Posted by bigredman
    That's an interesting analysis regarding the draft and the defensive scheme. I don't know if we would necessarily have to draft Bunkley in order to switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 on an audible, or in other words, it wouldn't be dependent on that (which I'm sure you are not suggesting, just throwing that out there).
    Agreed, we don't have to draft Bunkley to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Technically we could do it now with Kennedy and Glover on the line, with Glover taking one of the end spots for whichever end stands up. However, I tend to like what Bunkley brings to the table more in terms of athleticism, strength, and youth. I think Bunkley would hold his ground better than Glover as a 3-4 end.

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    Re: DT Brodrick Bunkley, Revisited (long)

    He's not my ideal, but reading this, it appears as if he could be a nice Lineman. On the flipside, He is like the defensive version of Jay Cutler, IMO. He's been built up so much by the media, and may turn out a big reach in time. I still think a trade up(For Hawk) or down(For Carpenter or Lawson) is more likely.

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