NFC Notes: Vernon, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Redskins

As part of new defensive coordinator James Bettcher‘s blitz-happy, aggressive 3-4 defense, the Giants will be moving Olivier Vernon from a defensive end to a pass-rushing outside linebacker. As a result of this change, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com believes the 27-year-old will end up being the key to a successful Giants defense.

“We know [Olivier Vernon] is a dynamic guy,” Bettcher said. “He’s a guy that can rush from different angles, a guy that you can move around and put in different matchups. And he’s embraced everything that we’ve done to this point. I’ve loved working with him and I think he’s making some great progress, not just in this scheme, but I think as I’ve looked at him as a player, he’s sharpening his tools right now.”

Since joining the Giants prior to the 2016 season, Vernon has compiled 15 sacks. While the defender averaged more sacks during his final three seasons with the Dolphins, Lombardo believes the position change should boost the former third-rounder’s numbers.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • If the Seahawks want to push for a playoff spot next season, ESPN’s Brady Henderson believes five players will have to lead the way: quarterback Russell Wilson, free safety Earl Thomas, linebacker Bobby Wagner, defensive end Frank Clark, and receiver Doug Baldwin. Thomas is a particularly surprising inclusion considering his uncertain status for next year. However, consider the losses of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, Thomas’ savvy could be particularly valuable to a younger Seahawks defense.
  • Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jenna Laine looked at the players who would be crucial to a Buccaneers playoff run: quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick, wideout Mike Evans, defensive tackle Vita Vea, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. The 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea is of particular intrigue, as Tampa Bay will be eyeing match-ups with a handful of notable quarterbacks and running backs next season.
  • Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington says no one would be surprised if the Redskins add an offensive guard before the regular season begins. If their supplemental picks go as planned, the organization should be armed with 11 selections in next year’s draft, so the writer believes the team could bail on one of the picks for some reinforcement on the offensive line. Following an underwhelming season, guard Shawn Lauvao would probably be the current member of the line who is most at risk of losing his starting gig.
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