Offensive styles can dictate draft picks

As the draft approaches, the type of offense a team runs can sway their ranking of a player. Teams want to make sure they draft a “scheme fit.”

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to hear about the players that are going to be the drafted to the NFL’s 32 teams, but one aspect that is often missed is that a player may be an ideal fit with one system but not a glove fit with a different scheme.

This weekend is a good time for a primer to what the basic schemes and the blocking styles are for offenses and the base defense and coverage schemes are for defenses, so draft fans can have a little better insight as to why a player will be so much higher on one team’s draft board than another team because, simply stated, they’re a better fit with some schemes than with others.

As it pertains to offense, there are several different base styles. The Vikings, for example, run a vertical power scheme, which attacks north to south in both the running game and the in their blocking scheme, which is a man-to-man power blocking mindset. To draft an offensive lineman, he will need to be versed in that style. It can be taught, but ideally they target players who fit that mold. But it is far from the only one.

Most fans are familiar with the West Coast offense, which is typified by mixing the run and pass in generally short chunks, moving the team up and down. However, teams like New Orleans run a West Coast offense, but it has a significant vertical downfield component to it.

Power offenses – attacking offenses that don’t try to disguise much – have both a run-first and a vertical passing component to it. Others teams use a matchup offense, going after specific defensive matchups the opponent will throw at them. There are some who run the classic pro-style offense that has been around forever, while others run a spread offense that typically doesn’t have a tight end or, if it does, he’s lined up as a slot receiver to spread a defense out.

The same is true for blocking schemes. Most north-south blocking schemes between the tackles are known as power rushing, but some teams go with a man-to-man power scheme while others do their blocking as a straight power scheme regardless of what the defense shows. Others will use a zone blocking system designed to isolate defenders and create holes, while within that scheme is a zone stretch approach the routinely attacks the seam outside the tackle.

Here are the primary designs the 32 NFL offenses run. The first is the base offense and the second is the blocking scheme. While some teams run identical systems, there are a lot of differences to them, which makes it imperative that a player be able to adapt to the new system that they’ll be coming into when they arrive in the NFL.

Atlanta – West Coast, Stretch Zone
Arizona – Vertical Power, Man/Power
Baltimore – West Coast, Zone
Buffalo – Power Run/Multiple, Power
Carolina – West Coast, Inside Zone
Chicago – Matchup, Man/Power
Cincinnati – Pro, Straight Power
Cleveland – Pro, Zone
Dallas – Vertical Power, Stretch Zone
Denver – West Coast. Stretch Zone
Detroit – Matchup, Stretch Zone
Green Bay – Matchup, Man/Zone hybrid
Houston – Pro, Multiple
Indianapolis – Spread, Straight Power
Jacksonville – Multiple, Zone
Kansas City – Matchup, Stretch Zone
Miami – Spread, Zone
Minnesota – Vertical Power, Man/Power
New England – Spread, Man/Power
New Orleans – West Coast Vertical, Zone
New York Giants – Matchup, Stretch Zone
New York Jets – Spread, Zone
Oakland – Matchup, Man/Power
Philadelphia – Matchup, Stretch Zone
Pittsburgh – Pro, Zone
St. Louis – Vertical Power, Man/Power
San Diego – West Coast, Zone
San Francisco – Matchup, Man/Power
Seattle – Vertical Power, Stretch Zone
Tampa Bay – West Coast, Zone
Tennessee – Spread, Man/Power
Washington -- Matchup, Stretch Zone

When the names come off the board on draft weekend, some of them may be a bit surprising, whether viewed as being too high or too low. But oftentimes where a player goes could depend as much on what offense or defense is being run as how talented a player was in college.


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