Most fans think, Nose Guard, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End and Linebacker when Front 7 is mentioned. However, Front 7 techniques are what determines who plays where and how. 4-3 and 3-4 defenses have different philosophies when deciding who to man their teams with.
Since a 3-4 uses three defensive linemen, they’ll use two linebackers or dual positional guy to play on the outsides of the DL to create more of an even match-up. Therefore, what they look for in their “front 7” will be different than in a 4-3.
A 4-3 uses four DL, and typically only one LB because they only use three, not 4 like in a 3-4. If a team uses a 12 personnel (1 RB, 2TE), they need to be blocked, hence seven players, nine spots.
Teams don’t use a 12 man front often, and certainly not part of their standard offense, so defenses won’t want to waste a roster spot on a guy who may only play a few snaps a game. Therefore, franchises want guys who can play two different techniques when the needs arises. When bringing in new players, they also decide who best fits what they have already. Chicken or the egg.
Front 7 guys can line up head up, off or inside a shoulder of a C/G/T. When they are off to either side, that’s the odd numbers, except when playing across from the TE, that’s 7 technique. To add more confusion, a player can be in an even position and be an I, like in the diagram below.
Here’s the explanation of the types of defensive linemen, where they play and body type. Remember, 3-4 and 4-3 look to different types, but both change players based on the play.
Front 7 Techniques
A true NG in a 34 defense. Needs to be country boy strong (or Poly Power guy) and eat up 2 blockers and not get moved. Athleticism is overrated at this position. The job isn’t to make tackles, it’s to allow the LB’s free to roam and stop the run. Squatty body, big ass, thick legs.
Similar to the 0 Technique. He is lined up on the inside shoulder of the guard. He needs to be able to eat up both the center and guard on run plays. If he can split the double team and take the tackle in the backfield, great. If not, he shouldn’t be moved off the ball and eat up blockers. Also needs to have the ability to slant across the guard’s face and get into the B Gap. This requires a little more athleticism than the 0 Technique. This is something that happens during both blitzes and line games. Squatty body, big ass, thick legs, more athletic than the 0, but better be able to eat up blockers.
This guy is not only strong (Not as strong as the 1T), but athletic. Lines up on the outside shoulder of the Guard. Must be able to beat double teams by using a variety of techniques. Need both quick feet and quick hands. This is a rush the passer guy, but needs to stay gap sound and make sure to stuff the run. Must be violent with his grip and able to disengage from the G/T, also able to cross the face of both the Guard and Tackle. He is the most violent player on the field. Needs to be a quick twitch player.
Pound for pound, this is probably the best athlete on the field. This is guy rushes the passer, sets the edge, and disengages while having a variety of pass rush moves. Must be able to convert speed to power, power to speed on his rushes. If 5 Techs are only a speed rusher, after about 3 games of film, he will be stoned by Tackles. They will set deeper and then get their hands on you and you’re finished.
If he is only a power rusher, he can be taken out with the help of a TE because there’s no threat of him going around the tackle. If he can do both, he’s getting a big pay check. He must be the guy who gets home to the quarterback and finishes first, not the guy who gets there late and is finishing off the tackle.
Not only can he rush the passer and make sacks, he also must set the edge for the run game. That is all about funneling everything inside where more player are there to to take him down, keep the back away from an open field. He should line up on the outside shoulder of the T.
This is the DE who lines up either heads up or on the inside shoulder of the TE. Needs to be quick, twitchy, and able to get his hands on the TE to re-route/disrupt his get-off in the pass game. This guy lines up opposite the 5T. Also needs to be strong enough to defeat double teams of the Tackle/TE while setting the edge. Not a glamour position. Still need that edge set.
These are the fastest of all the DL. They are also the best twitch players on your team. They have one goal in mind…get to the QB. They can also stop the run on the way to the quarterback. He guy may be smaller, but needs a host of moves (similar to the 5T) because he can’t only rely on speed to get to the QB on the edge. He needs to use a spin/rip/swim move to get home. He is your “specialized pass rusher” who plays a lot on 3rd Down. Very little concern for the run game.
Hope this helps build your football knowledge. As always, you can comment below if you want more help, or send a DM to @the_teal_zone Thanks for reading!