Olivier Vernon is an important piece of coordinator James Bettcher’s aggressive 3-4 scheme. They are counting on him to help improve their pass rush, which made only 32 sacks last season.
Vernon, 27, should not have much of a transition moving from a 4-3 defensive end to a pass-rushing outside linebacker in the 3-4. He played the position at times in college at Miami and during his first four seasons in the NFL with the Dolphins.
“We know he is a dynamic guy,” Bettcher said this spring, via Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media. “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.”
Vernon averaged 7.5 sacks per season with the Dolphins, including 11.5 in 2013. He averaged the same in his two seasons with the Giants.
Lombardo writes that “it isn’t a stretch to say that Vernon is the most important player on the entire defense.” Indeed, the Giants need Vernon to get after the quarterback to improve on their 31st total defensive ranking of last season.