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A Word On Pickett Playing Nose Tackle

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A Word On Pickett Playing Nose Tackle

A few of you have objected to my questioning Ryan Pickett's ability to fit as a nose tackle in the 3-4. And yes, the idea of a nose tackle taking up blockers and clearing the way for the linebackers is a valid one and it's something I think Pickett would be decent at. Not great, but decent.

And that's the thing.

We've just suffered through three years of mediocre defensive football. Do we really want a repeat of that? My misgivings when it comes to Pickett playing nose is not in his ability to execute his assignments. He would be fine in that respect. But it's not enough, not for me anyway. The nose and the weakside backer are the two most important positions in the 3-4. I don't want a merely 'adequate-to-get-you-through-the-season' type guy playing at one of the two most important positions. I want a problem for offenses. I want a guy who can not only take on two blockers but also shed them and knife through to make the tackle for a loss. I want a guy who the quarterback is afraid of. Ryan Pickett is a good football player, but he is none of those things.

Now, I hear your objections already and yes, I realize those types of guys are hard to find. But that is Thompson's job, to find the best players he can at every position. I recognize that he may not be able to find someone this offseason, but to simply put up Pickett's name on the board and say 'Done' is haphazard and dangerous. (I don't really think that's what the Packers are doing, but I've been surprised before)

Again, don't mistake my misgivings about Pickett for me doubting his ability. He's a fine football player. But he's not a difference maker, and having one at the nose would help the defense exponentially.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (6) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ron La Canne's picture

Can't disagree with your evaluation of Pickett. He's a good (i.e. average) football player. He has never come close to All-Pro status. Next year will be his 8th year in the NFL and he has already started to show signs of slowing down. Lateral movement this year was very restricted. Could be he didn't fully recover from his pre-season hamstring until very late in the year. They'll have to look for a wide body to fill that role.

Keith's picture

This idea that you need a wide body to play the nose is a misconception. Sure, a big dude on the nose is ideal, but it isn't necessary. Chris Hoke, the Steelers backup NT is only 305 and he did a very solid job filling in for Hampton when he was injured. If you can't get a Hampton or Kris Jenkins to play nose, then you want an active, high motor, two gap player. So if I had my choice, I would rather have a guy like Hoke who is active and can cover two gaps, than a guy like Pickett, who is just going to take up space and not do too much moving around.

Mr.Man's picture

Who played NT for the Cowboys this year? And I don't recall Hampton making a lot of tackles for the Steelers.

Ron La Canne's picture

The middle guard needs a body type/strength to occupy more than one O-line member. Attack and destroy the center and require a guard to help out is his mission. Whether or not he is 350 or 305 he needs the strength and mobility to acccomplish that task. To me that's a wide body.

packeraaron's picture

Mr. Man - you are not seriously comparing Hampton and Pickett. Are you?

Keith's picture

A NT's main job isn't to make tackles, it's to maintain gap responsibility, and most NT's are responsible for two gaps. As Ron mentioned above, Pickett's lateral movement seemed restricted this season, which is a cause for concern since he will (most likely) be covering two gaps. Further, from my observations, Pickett has a terrible habit of simply standing up and not staying low... that's right, he plays with a poor pad level. That just won't cut it at the nose.

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