I would rather not spend the first day of the draft on outside linebacker prospects and then have to wait a couple of years for them to be able to take the field. Do you realize that if something were to happen to Joey Porter we would have ZERO 3-4 OLBs?
First off, whatever is going on with Alonzo Jackson, he doesn't have the speed to play OLB. Maybe...MAYBE he can be a situational pass rusher. Clark Haggans is destined to be the next Justin Kurpeikis. Please wake me two years after you have found a couple more Joey Porters. In all likelihood I will go back to sleep and ask you to wake me a couple years after you have found a few defensive linemen and a nose tackle who fit the 3-4 defense. Some five years down the road I will be asking you to wake me a few years after you have found a couple middle linebackers and then Shawn van Winkle will need safeties again.
Until it is realized that outside linebackers in the 3-4 are the default pass rushers, a fair argument for the 4-3 cannot be made. Right now we have better personnel for the 4-3 than we do the 3-4, which is already far too expensive in terms of cap space and player latency.
How patient are you for watching a player ride the pine for a year, then perform ho-hum for a year, then suddenly do what you drafted them to do? They all say the same thing: "Last year I was thinking too much, this year I'm just reacting." That's being "patient to a fault" in my opinion.
It's wonderful to watch them develop, but I want my defense supported every year, not with the timing of cicadas at the expense of the offense. How about going 4-3 and letting them develop in college like the rest of the NFL? That's my only reason for abandoning it; you can't support it in today's NFL without devoting your draft to it.
Right now, at a minimum, we need two outside linebackers, one cornerback, and a nose tackle. After you draft them, you can't use them for a year; by then you will need something else and have to wait. So, there will be no new outside linebacker to watch next year regardless of your expectations. Not without introducing a backup to the roster and shifting a player around, even then you wait.
To keep this 3-4 we must draft entirely defense in April, and then wait. That's the only way to keep up with it at this point.
Meanwhile the rest of the NFL replaces players like hankies and have passed us by. We will ALWAYS be a player or an injury away from success, then waiting.
How long have we been building this defense now?
How many long-term contracts were committed to attempt this in futility? To achieve this defense you must abandon the offense. That is what history has taught us about the Cowher 3-4. To piece-meal this defense results in has-beens on the field before it is completed.
What we are currently watching is the mistake of underestimating the speed necessary in the secondary when this defense was constructed. You need merely look at OLB depth on this squad to see the same problems. The defensive line has been ignored and is now razor thin. Lesser players are kept due to their knowledge of the system. It's not like we are gaining on this.
I see three players whom I would not upgrade - Joey Porter, James Farrior, and Aaron Smith - who seem to have the responsibility of guarding Gildon's missing lane. The rest we have to wait on or should be replaced. Kendrell Bell you ask? I don't know, are we smart enough to use a Kendrell Bell?
Not only must we draft strictly defense, we must hit on all cylinders then wait a year. That's not a pleasant scenario if you look at the current depth chart.