As you have been browsing through different mock drafts this off-season you have probably noticed that a lot of the selections for the Saints with the 27th pick are defensive end Scott Crichton or offensive tackle Antonio Richardson. Though these are players of positions where the Saints need help, I think that the Saints could do themselves better by taking a hybrid, 3-4 pass rusher. The particular player that I have in mind is Dee Ford out of Auburn.
Dee Ford began the offseason as a middle round prospect. He had a solid senior season getting 31 tackles and 10.5 sacks, but there were worries about his size as a defensive end. To me, the 6-2, 240 pound pass rusher has a lot of similar characteristics to current Saint Junior Galette, who by the way tallied 12 sacks in 2013. Both players are explosive off of the ball and like to use the speed rush. Having them opposite of each other would be a terror for offensive lines.
This past weekend Ford participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and proved to the critics that they ought to take a second look at him. He had two sacks and a pass deflection before halftime alone. If you noticed in the highlight video that I attached, at times Ford was blowing by the offensive tackles before they even got out of their three-point stance. Because he was causing so much trouble, he started receiving double teams and chip blocks in the second half.
At the current moment, Ford is projected to go anywhere from the later portion of the first round to the middle of the second round. His stock will only continue to rise if he puts on a good showing at the NFL Combine in late February.
To me Ford would be a great investment by the Saints. Even if he is a tweener-type player, those are the types of players that Rob Ryan can take advantage of the most because he can implement so many different schemes involving them. The Saints did bring in outside linebacker Victor Butler from Dallas to act as their versatile pass rusher, but now there is no guarantee that he will be able to play at or near 100 percent because of his ACL tear.
A team that runs the 3-4 is going to fall in love with this guy. I think the Saints could be one of those teams. He has a lot of the intangibles that make up a dominant pass rusher and I just don't think that they can pass that up. Pay attention to Dee Ford these next couple of months because come the draft in May, I think he will one of the Saints' top rookie prospects.