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New Orleans Saints 2017 Draft Targets: Haason Reddick should be the pick at 11th

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The 2017 NFL draft is less than three weeks away. Our draft profile today will tell you why this player could fill multiple needs for the New Orleans Saints.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints need an outside pass rusher! Every single fan of the team has been screaming those words since Junior Galette misplaced his psych meds and wound up in the asylum known as Washington. Cam Jordan is an outstanding football player, and a very good pass rusher from his defensive end position. Defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Sheldon Rankins both provided solid interior pass rush last season, and look to be a position of strength in 2017.

The attempts to provide any kind of consistent outside pressure opposite Jordan has been a failure. 2015 second-round pick Hau'oli Kikaha showed potential in his rookie season, but is coming off of his 3rd major knee injury that caused him to miss last year. Davis Tull was a hopeful mid-round pick that same year that didn't pan out. Kasim Edebali and Obum Gwacham have both flashed ability as speed rushers; but neither were able to sustain any kind of consistency to be effective. Naturally, Edebali and the Saints moved on.

Free agency hasn't provided the answer either. Darryl Tapp is a high-effort player, but is nothing more than a role player, and Paul Kruger should have had a return policy on his contract. 2017 free agent signee Alex Okafor has shown good disruptive ability when with Arizona, but tailed off a bit over the last two seasons. 2016 draft pick David Onyemata seems to have terrific potential, but is still a raw athletic project. Coach Sean Payton admitted coming into this offseason that a pass rusher was the team's 'top priority'.

The New Orleans Saints need a playmaking linebacker!!! A frustrating cry heard from many that have watched this team all their lives. Particularly us oldies who remember the days of "The Dome Patrol" through the 80s and 90s, or even watching Jonathan Vilma patrol the field from 2008-11. Watching David Hawthorne, Curtis Lofton, and James Laurinaitis constantly two, three, or TEN steps behind in coverage have made Saints fans physically ill for five years.

Stephone Anthony has not translated his athletic ability into consistent play recognition and just does not look like a first-round draft pick at this stage of his career. Dannell Ellerbe is one of the best players on the field when he's actually on it. The problem with that is that Ellerbe has only appeared in 15 out of a possible 32 games as a Saint, and has never completed a full 16-game season. Craig Robertson was the team's best free agent acquisition of a year ago, and capable of playing any of the linebacker positions.

The signing of A J. Klein away from the Panthers will hopefully solidify the middle linebacker position, and Manti T'eo was added from San Diego to provide depth. The Saints have lacked a difference maker out of this position for quite some time.

Enter a player who could fill both needs immediately: Haason Reddick, OLB/DE (Temple)

Mock drafts have Reddick going anywhere from the top 10 to the mid-20's of the first round. His senior year alone, he had over 30 quarterback pressures and 10 sacks. Reddick primarily played defensive end for the Owls, after originally walking on as a defensive back. His smaller size and tremendous athletic ability will likely project him as a weak side (WILL) linebacker in the NFL.

Reddick's raw athletic ability was on full display at the NFL's scouting combine. His 7.01 second 3-cone drill and 4.37 second 20-yard shuttle were in the top 10 among both linebackers and defensive linemen. His 11-foot-1-inch long jump ranked in the top 5 performances of both positions. The 4.52 second 40-yard dash Reddick posted were tops among every defensive lineman and linebacker in attendance. (Michigan safety/linebacker Jabril Peppers did run a 4.51).

It isn't just the combine performance that has caught the attention of professional scouts. Reddick's game film shows a player that is an explosive athlete right off the snap. He does need to add some bulk to be more effective against bigger tackles at the point of attack, but he has very good strength for his size. Reddick is still effective against the larger tackles because of an explosive first step.

Offensive linemen have difficulty getting a firm hold on Reddick because he has outstanding agility, nice lean, and bend around the edge, and a deadly twist move in close quarters. Reddick's eyes are always on the backfield, evidenced by his 21 tackles for loss last year. Although inexperienced in pass coverage, Reddick is an incredibly fluid athlete with loose hips and excellent reaction. He is tenacious in both sideline to sideline and downfield pursuit.

Critics of Reddick say his smaller frame would prevent him from being effective in a 4-3 defensive scheme, which is the Saints base defense. New Orleans' own Dannell Ellerbe and Craig Robertson are each less than 245 pounds. Two players that Reddick has often been compared to, Jamie Collins and Ryan Shazier, both weigh less than 250-lbs. Reddick's explosiveness is somewhat reminiscent of Denver's Von Miller, one of the most disruptive defenders in the NFL, who actually has a leaner frame than Reddick at 6-foot-3, 237-pounds. The Broncos primarily ran a base 4-3 defense from 2011-14, and Miller produced 49 sacks over 56 games. Denver's defensive coordinator in 2011? None other than current Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.

Haason Reddick has the ability to play any of the linebacker positions, and shows the potential to be a dominant NFL defender for years to come.

Poll

What would be an honest reaction if the Saints took Haason Reddick at 11th?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    I’d crap my pants with disgust
    (67 votes)
  • 36%
    I’d be fine with it
    (391 votes)
  • 26%
    It could work, but meh
    (283 votes)
  • 31%
    I’d love it!
    (337 votes)
1078 votes total Vote Now