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2017 New Orleans Saints Draft Targets: Taco Charlton

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The University of Michigan pass rusher is poised to make a big impact in the NFL. Although he may not have the production numbers, Charlton has the untapped potential to become a star in the NFL.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Michigan vs Florida State Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Taco Charlton, like a certain other Michigan defensive player, has been in flux in terms of draft position for some time now. Standing at 6-foot-6 and 277 pounds, Charlton is a player that didn’t produce for long at Michigan, but he did produce extremely efficiently. Under Don Brown’s tutelage, the entire Michigan defense was elevated, and Charlton was a standout even among players like Chris Wormley and Jordan Glasgow.

Charlton’s biggest asset is his twitch and athleticism. He is excellent at getting a jump around tackles, and his speed is impressive. Where he can lack at times is in his hands, as when he’s engaged he can sometimes get stood up. Charlton’s shown flashes of great pass rushing moves at Michigan, but he will need to be in the right situation to hone them.

In 2016, he had 43 tackles and 13 TFLs (tackles for loss). He was consistently disruptive in the backfield, but he struggled the few times he was asked to cover. He is very much a 4-3 end, but he appears to prefer a two-point stance to having his hand in the dirt.

Also worth noting is that Charlton is experienced in playing with a quality bookend. Wormley is seen as a second or third round pick due to his lower ceiling, but he consistently produced for nearly three years at Michigan. Charlton had 9.5 sacks in 2016, but his potential is being viewed as nearly limitless.

He can be impatient against the run at time, starting to go downfield when he should be setting the edge. This is not uncommon among college ends, particularly college ends in an advanced defensive system like Brown’s. The right situation will be important for Taco, as he is still relatively inexperienced.

Picking Charlton would likely require the 11th pick, as he’s being projected all over the first round and likely wouldn’t be on the board at 32. He would be a test in patience for Saints’ fans, as he may have more pass rushing potential than anyone in this draft not named Myles Garrett. However, his initial floor is much lower than a player such as Charles Harris or Derek Barnett. He’ll likely need to get stronger at hand-fighting out of the gate, but he could be an invaluable addition to the Saints’ defense.