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Martin Mayhew: 4-3 OLBs deserve more Pro Bowl recognition

Martin Mayhew thinks DeAndre Levy should have made the Pro Bowl, and he has a great idea for how 4-3 outside linebackers can get the recognition they deserve in the future.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to make the Pro Bowl as an outside linebacker, your best bet is to play in a 3-4 defense and rack up a large number of sacks. Just look at the outside linebackers who made this year's Pro Bowl:

Connor Barwin (Eagles): 14.5 sacks
Elvis Dumervil (Ravens): 17.0 sacks
Tamba Hali (Chiefs): 6.0 sacks
Justin Houston (Chiefs): 22.0 sacks
Clay Matthews (Packers): 11.0 sacks
Von Miller (Broncos): 14.0 sacks

Racking up sacks may grab people's attention, but that's only one aspect of playing outside linebacker. And for a player like DeAndre Levy, who isn't asked to rush the passer all that often, it's a very small aspect of playing outside linebacker for the Detroit Lions. He only had 2.5 sacks in 2014, and he only has 3.5 sacks in his entire career. However, he recorded an astounding 151 tackles for the Lions in 2014, and he also had a safety, five pass defenses and an interception.

Quite simply, Levy deserved to be a Pro Bowler, but he was snubbed for the second year in a row. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is sick of seeing Levy and other 4-3 outside linebackers not get the recognition they deserve, and he's going to do something about it.

"DeAndre has been an outstanding player for us as you know, should be in the Pro Bowl, and I'm going to make a recommendation. I'm on the GM advisory committee. I'm going to make a recommendation that we elect a Pro Bowl team with a 3-4 defense and a Pro Bowl team with a 4-3 defense. You see guys like DeAndre and like Lavonte David that don't really get the credit they deserve and get an opportunity to be Pro Bowlers because in the 3-4 these guys have so many sacks. A lot of fans are voting for guys with sacks, but there's some 4-3 outside linebackers who are outstanding players and I think they should be recognized as such."

This is a pretty smart solution to the overload of 3-4 outside linebackers in the Pro Bowl, and I hope this change happens in future years. Levy may not have a ton of sacks, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be a Pro Bowler, and differentiating between 3-4 and 4-3 outside linebackers would make sure that players like him get the recognition they deserve in the future.

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