Originally Posted by fontaine
Hmm. . . we took Wolfe as a DT who could penetrate and on obvious passing downs shift Ayers inside for pass rush who'll be in his final year so I don't agree.
Jackson has hardly played this season (if you don't count garbage time) and is still nothing more than a project who needs to put in a lot of offseason strength and conditioning work so it makes no sense to go into next season relying on him and not looking for an upgrade from guys like Jackson, Siliga, and Unrein. Two out of those have hardly played.
We can definitely do better there.
I think we have options here anyway because we could always look to shift Wolfe inside and have someone like Ayers start so the draft will at DL will really depend on what happens in free agency.
We drafted Wolfe to play DE. That was the report almost as soon as we drafted him. Myself, and pretty much everyone else, thought that was stupid and that he'd be playing DT, the report was clearly wrong. It turns out I just didn't understand the defense we would be playing.
Del Rio later said that for Wolfe to play DT, he'd have to gain significant weight, but that he could see that as his long term position. That was, of course, before we went on to become one of the most dominating defenses in the NFL.
I can't imagine, at all, that we change our scheme after the year we've had. Super Bowl win or no, this defensive scheme is a beast and Wolfe has been dynamite as a DE. Malik Jackson is his direct backup, though we've given him 100+ snaps this year mostly at DT to get him some experience, at least according to PFF's snap data.
Ayers has only played DE for us this season, and almost exclusively on pure passing downs. He's played 317 snaps this year and 216 of those were on passing downs. (Dumervil and Wolfe are both over 900 snaps for the year with a much more equal run/pass ratio). His usage this season was vastly different than how we used him last year. And if we continue to use the scheme we used this year, I don't see Ayers playing a two gap 5 tech DE next year.
With all that being said. I agree with your point that we could go a variety of routes with the draft. It will be interesting to see which route we go, but with the success we've had, I think the odds suggest we keep our scheme and Wolfe the same.