You have to give Remi Ayodele credit: when the Saints first brought the guy in he was cast off in almost every fan's mind as a camp body at best. He spent 2006 and 2007 going to the Cowboys, then Ravens, then back to the Cowboys, never really seeing the field. In 2008 he got a little action with the Saints later in the season thanks to injuries but he never impressed and the assumption was going into the 2009 season that he'd be extremely fortunate to make the 53-man roster as a role player backup.
Instead, for two seasons, he's been a starter on the defensive line and the go-to gap plugger on running down situations. How did he fare? Overall, I'd say fine. I have him at a GPA of 2.38 for the 2009 season, which is pretty low compared to other players, but he was able to bump that up to 2.55 in 2010. While he got the season off to an incredibly good start this past year, I feel like his GPA and performances faded down the stretch. He was seldom a liability in running situations, but he was never mistaken for a difference maker either. Evidently, with the recent signing of Shaun Rogers, the Saints made it clear it was time for an upgrade.Let me share with you guys some statistics from Pro Football Focus on Ayodele. PFF is similar to what I do with the player grades - it grades every significant impact a player has on any individual play (good blocks, bad routes etc.). For the most part it's amazing how remarkably similar/comparable my grades compare to their ratings - though their scoring system is quite different from the generic academic scale.
In 2010, they gave Ayodele a run stopping rating of +2.7 and a pass rushing grade of -7.4. The year before, he was +.6 against the run and -12.1 rushing the passer. Seems like they agreed with me that 2010, overall, was a year in which Ayodele made strides with his game. It also states the obvious that his contributions against the run are positive and his contributions on passing plays are negative.
Now here were Rogers' PFF numbers for 2009 and 2010. These are interesting because I don't give out player grades for other teams/players, and it'll give us a good comparison (based on the fact that we can assume PFF generally agrees with my evaluation of Ayodele).
Rogers came out in 2010 with a -.6 rating on run defense and a +13.2 on pass plays. Not what you expected, huh? In 2009, by comparison, Rogers was +1.1 against the run and +13.2 again on pass plays.
The conclusion is this: despite Rogers' mammoth size, he's not necessarily that much of an upgrade from Ayodele in the run stopping department. In fact, you could argue that they are either comparable or even that Ayodele comes out slightly ahead. What's undeniable is that Rogers represents a massive upgrade (no pun intended) in pass rushing situations. That statement is echoed by his career sack totals. So clearly, the Saints made this move because they saw little to no downgrade in the run defense with this move (and hopefully a slight upgrade) and a huge difference in the pressure they can bring on quarterbacks.
Also worth noting: Rogers was the worst Cleveland Brown rated defensive player in both 2009 and 2010 with regard to penalties (-5.7 and -5.6). Ayodele, by comparison, was -0.5 and -0.9 in each year. So the Saints get a nastier player but there's a clear drop off in terms of discipline.
So after looking at these numbers, do you feel like Rogers represents a big upgrade over Remi Ayodele?