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Quinton Coples, Dion Jordan represent new trends

Heading into his second season, New York Jets defender Quinton Coples is moving to outside linebacker. The Jets need pass rushers and believe Coples can be more effective standing up. This has attracted a lot of media attention.

In Miami, there's already a question about where No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan will play. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland admits that Jordan could wind up as a linebacker in the team's base package.

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The New England Patriots' top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, second-rounder Jamie Collins, can play both defensive end and outside linebacker. His arrival has folks in Boston wondering if the Patriots will use more 3-4 looks this season.

All the attention on projected position with these young pass rushers misses the point. All three players aren't going to play just one position or line up in one scheme. Their ability to play a variety of roles is precisely why they were drafted so high in the first place.

The lines between a 4-3 defense and 3-4 defense have been eroding for years, and now have been all but erased. The terms almost are meaningless by now because the majority of NFL defenses are wildly multiple, transforming formations from snap to snap, week to week, season to season.

The changing schemes are starting to render our old position labels out of date. Coples isn't an outside linebacker, defensive end or defensive tackle. He's all three, depending on the down.

Jordan and Collins aren't just linebackers or defensive linemen. They will be everywhere. They don't fit in a box.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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