The NFL’s best hybrid players
The NFL's switch from generalization to positional specialization has never been more pronounced, and it seems to be even more so every season. In 2015, teams played in sub-packages on 65% of their downs, which means that what was once known as the base defense for any team (straight 4–3 or 3–4) is no longer the norm. With that change comes a desperate need for players who can do many things very well. Jacks of all trades will find themselves more employable than ever, whether it's a defensive lineman who can wreak havoc in multiple gaps, a slot corner who can also deal with top outside receivers, or a running back good enough with routes to be a major concern in the passing game.
Our top 10 hybrid players reside mostly on the defensive side of the ball, because that's where so many paradigm shifts have happened over the last decade.
Just missed the cut
Patrick Chung, Patriots: Chung plays a linebacker/safety hybrid that has him rolling deep in coverage at times, but his primary role is to help enforce against the run and short pass. Like Tyrann Mathieu, his presence creates an unwelcome variable for enemy offenses.
The next big thing
Allen Hurns, Jaguars: We don’t cover slot receivers who also play outside in this piece because there is a whole list of slot guys upcoming. But Hurns is a specifically interesting case—he ran 37% of his routes in the slot last season, and he's equally strong with the kinds of outside vertical routes the Jaguars prefer. Look for him to perhaps become a new style of hybrid receiver—the guy who moves equally to the slot from outside before he's relegated there by size or age.