With the shift from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense, the New Orleans Saints will have major changes along their defensive line with some players embracing position changes that most have never tried. Other players aren't as scheme-versatile as others and will be released resulting in minimal depth along the line.
The defensive ends on the team right now are Cameron Jordan, Akiem Hicks (who has been discussed as a NT), Tyrunn Walker and Tom Johnson, and nose tackles only have Brodrick Bunkley down as their entire depth chart there.
Besides looking in free agency, the Saints could look to add line help later in the draft or in the undrafted signing period shortly after. That's usually their M.O. when adding depth to a seemingly set position aside from the nose.
The guys that I have here are players that are not going to be high on people's boards and, maybe, I'm "high" just suggesting them, but these prospects could help build a good foundation for their new scheme.
William Campbell, Michigan, 6' 5" 318 lbs.
Campbell was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school and for three years, was also the prime example of underachievement. All that changed before his senior year at Ann Arbor. The coaching staff took particular interest in him and hailed the "new" Campbell heading into the 2012 season.
Campbell's stats might not jump off the page at you but on film, he is as disruptive as they come and has a great motor. He never quits on a play. Very solid in stopping the run. He played in Greg Mattison's, ex-Baltimore defensive coordinator, 3-4 base formation last season and earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.
Campbell is in the mold of Hicks, in that he is big enough to flex inside, but his skills are best used at DE.
William Gholston, Michigan State, 6' 7" 278 lbs.
Staying in the state of Michigan, apparently, I bring you Mr. Gholston of Campbell's arch-rival Michigan St. Spartans. Gholston's middle name might as well be chaos because that's what he causes. It's amazing to watch him rush the passer and stretch out run plays.
Gholston's best position might be as a defensive end in a 4-3 base defense, but his play can easily translate into a 3-4 end and be a perfect compliment to Jordan. In that scenario, you would slide Hicks into the nose. His character issues might be a reason his second round talent is being pushed down into the fifth round, but those troubles should be behind him.
Gholston's game has an eerie similarity to J.J. Watt's. His 10 pass knockdowns should attest to that.
Joe Kruger, Utah, 6' 7" 280 lbs.
Kruger is a DE version of his brother, Paul. He might not be as skilled as his brother, but Joe makes up for it with his motor and his smarts. He had six sacks last year to go along with eight tackles-for-loss and, not to mention, one crazy pick-six he had against Northern Colorado.
That interception showed a flash of the athleticism he possesses, and it also revealed that he had a little playmaking ability that his brother has in the NFL. He'd be a nice rotational guy to have.
T.J. Barnes, Georgia Tech, 6' 6" 369 lbs.
Barnes is a mammoth of a man. This guy would make ex-Saint Shaun Rogers look about as big as Darren Sproles next to him. He is another guy that is not going to jump out at you on the stat sheet, but he will eat up blockers and space and keep inside linebackers clean to roam.
The downfall with a guy like this is that he might not be able to stay on the field on all downs. Does he have the athleticism? I think he does, and his ability against the pass is not bad enough where he is a liability. He would provide great depth just like the others here.
Anthony Rashad White, Michigan St., 6' 2" 320 lbs.
White is the last guy from the state of Michigan here, but certainly not the least, especially in the midsection. This Spartan was well equipped to eat space in the Big Ten, and he did it well. He had big shoes to fill after Jerel Worthy was drafted and filled them nicely.
Despite his larger stature, he has the mobility and agility to develop very good pass rushing skills, but for now that part of his game is a liability for him. He will be a steal in the seventh round or after the draft.
Anthony McCloud, Florida St., 6' 2" 322 lbs.
McCloud will get lost in draft talk when people are referring to Florida St., and that can be expected when your teammates are named Brandon Jenkins, Tank Carradine, Bjoern Werner and Everett Dawkins. Who do you think took up most of those blockers to allow those players to get one-on-one matchups?
That was McCloud.
He is pretty good against the run, also. Right now, he is a projected to be selected in the sixth or seventh round, and his pre-draft workouts won't wow people, so that won't change. He know his job and does it well. I don't care if he doesn't test well. Give me someone with that mentality, and they would excel with Rob Ryan.