When Junior Galette came to the Saints last season as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Stillman College, it was a safe assumption he was the epitome of a camp body. He shocked us all when he made the final 53-man roster at the expense of veteran Bobby McCray, and that was done on the heals of a monstrous pre-season that saw him constantly disrupting offenses with pressure in the backfield.
As one of the last guys to make the team, that's usually a player that shuffles between the active roster and the practice squad, but Galette managed to stay on the team for the entirety of the season. That was the encouraging part. The less encouraging part was that Galette only played in four games, registered four tackles and never really got any sort of shot at showcasing his skills. At that point we all kind of assumed he was a one trick pony as a speed rusher coming off the edge and that he was too much of a liability in run support to put out there. I honestly questioned whether he'd even get another shot with the team this upcoming season.
While many promising young players effectively get a "redshirt season" to learn the ropes, the fact that Galette got almost no reps told me that his Herculean pre-season effort was just a flash in the pan.
Then came the offseason, and Gregg Williams had the following to say about Galette:
"The guy I'm really anxious to give him his chance next year is Junior. He's earned the right to get a chance now."
Williams doesn't usually go out of his way to praise his young, unproven and raw players. If anything, he tends to be incredibly harsh on them, so those comments were nice to hear. Still, the big question is whether Galette will be able to round out his game and become useful to the defense.
We know he has the ability to became above average as a pass rusher. Does he have the ability to become above average as an every down defensive end also? That's the big question. But maybe he doesn't need to. Gregg Williams is better than anyone at finding ways to put guys on the field giving them a chance to succeed by letting them play to their strengths.
That being said, 53 players is a tight roster and it's hard to justify keeping a guy that can only come in on 3rd and more than 5, because you're terrified of how he'll handle himself in any other situation. While it's a nice luxury to have a pass rushing specialist, 3rd and more than 5 doesn't come up often enough to really justify keeping a guy that can only excel in that situation.
In 2010, Galette's liabilities outweighed his strengths and he needs to work hard to tip the scales. The good news is Galette is up to 266 lbs. from 258 lbs. in weight, so the added power will hopefully help him hold his ground on running plays. The key for him will be to significantly improve other areas of his game without seeing a drop off in his ability to get to the quarterback. If he can do that, there will be a place for him in the lineup, because we all know the Saints are desperate for explosiveness from his position.
Do you see Junior Galette making the team in 2011 and making an impact?