Akiem Hicks at DE? Will Smith at OLB? What does this mean?



As a faithful reader of CSC, I have seen a variety of opinions when it comes to Akiem Hicks and Will Smith. It's hard to know what to make of these changes, but I will try to do so.

1) The Saints have more confidence in their DL than we do. I guess we can all agree that Jordan, Hicks, Bunkley, and Jenkins are safe. But after that, what is the Saints coaching staff seeing that we are not? I have assumed all along that Kenyon Coleman will make it for his familiarity with Ryan's system, since he was a Brown and Cowboy lineman under Ryan. But I assume that the Saints will carry more than 5 DL to start the season. So who will make the roster as a DL while Smith plays LB? Will Tom Johnson, Greg Romeus, or Tyrunn Walker be that guy? Or will a linebacker like Rufus be asked to put on a few pounds and attempt to become a force at DE, rotating with Jordan/Hicks? I don't think we can expect Hicks to be in on every play, with how big he is. So who will he platoon with?

2) The Saints will do ANYTHING to have the best 4 players possible at LB. Let's get real here. Outside of Lofton, who has LOCKED in a LB spot as a starter in our new 3-4 defense in 2013? There are a few capable bodies to man spots, but to think that anyone else has a guaranteed spot as a 16 game starter is simply an assumption. Moving Smith to LB tells me that the Saints are not sold on Martez or Junior either. When a coach shifts a guy to a different position, it's with crossed fingers. We now have 3 guys who will do just that, competing for an OLB spot. Throw Vilma in the mix and you can see that the Saints want to be absolutely sure that the 2 best candidates are manning that very important OLB position.

3) The Saints are riding Brodrick Bunkley and John Jenkins. By moving Smith to LB, Hicks will be needed to take a huge amount of snaps at DE. Unless Coleman will be on the field a lot, I can't see Hicks playing NT too. I have predicted that Bunkley will platoon with Jenkins and will stick with that. I actually believe that Bunkley will be better in this defense than he was under Spags in 2012. I know I'm not going off on a limb here, because Bunkley was terrible last season. But I do feel that with Jordan and Hicks beside him, he will be much more productive.

4) Chase Thomas better bring his "A" game. If Vilma and Smith make the roster as OLBs, it would be hard to see Thomas on the roster with Gallette, Butler, and Wilson also manning spots. He still has to beat out Rufus if the Saints keep 6 OLBs.

5) This is Will Smith suicide. I'm sorry, but from what I've seen the past few seasons, I can't see Will Smith being a starting OLB. Why?

Dwight Freeney: Became a rush LB in 2012 after being one of the most dominant DEs in the league.

2008: 10.5 sacks, DE

2009: 13.5 sacks, DE

2010: 10 sacks, DE

2011: 8.5 sacks, DE

2012: 5.0 sacks, OLB. Made the pro bowl the previous 4 years.

I've always seen Dwight Freeney as a hell of an athlete. While he a year or so older than Smith, I can say that Freeney was always more explosive and athletic than Smith. To make this transition at 31 will be challenging. I really don't see how he does it, even though I hope he does.

So what do you think? What's going on with our DL? Are you confident in these moves?



This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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