Cliff Avril Willing to Switch to 3-4 Now Makes Sense in New Orleans

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterMarch 8, 2013

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 30:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears avoids a tackle by Cliff Avril #92 of the Detroit Lions during a second quarter play at Ford Field on December 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Defensive end Cliff Avril has played for five seasons in the NFL for the Detroit Lions in their 4-3 defensive scheme. Just because he’s been in the 4-3, don’t pigeon-hole him as someone who can’t be helpful to a 3-4 team.

Avril told Michigan Live that he is willing and believes he could make the switch to a 3-4.

I think I can do it. I thought I was going to be a 3-4 coming out, obviously. I ended up getting drafted to the Lions at the defensive end position. The weird thing is all the guys out of Purdue from the last few drafts who played end became 3-4 ends. I'm the only one out of all of those guys who played linebacker and became a defensive end. Maybe I'll join that club, if it's the case.

Avril has 39.5 sacks over his five seasons in the NFL and has averaged just over 9.5 in his last three seasons. At 6'3" and 260 pounds, Avril is more of a tweener anyway than a pure defensive end.

The first thing general managers should look at in Avril is his ability to get to the quarterback. Take away the definition of position and Avril is simply a pass-rush specialist.

The New Orleans Saints are in dire need of guys who can rush the passer and they are switching to a 3-4 in 2013. He’s not an elite pass-rusher, but he’d be the top option on the Saints roster if Mickey Loomis pulled the trigger.

The Saints might not have enough money to pay Avril the kind of money he wants—he told Sirius/XM NFL Radio he would love to get Mario Williams’ six-year, $100 million deal—but Loomis has a card to play that Detroit, or the Cleveland Browns (a team linked to Avril as interested) don’t.

New Orleans is a playoff-ready team with a chip on its shoulder after last season’s bounty debacle. If Loomis can convince Avril to take less money and play for a championship ring, it could be a win-win situation for both Avril and the Saints.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.

Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and the author of “100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die.” Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.