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New Orleans Saints Cannot Afford to Ignore Pass Rush

Alex Okafor won’t be enough.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

As we get closer and closer to the 2018 NFL Draft, the holes left on the New Orleans Saints roster and getting fewer and fewer. The Saints have addressed Safety, Linebacker, Tight End, Offensive Line, and Cornerback. Even after the re-signing of Alex Okafor, who is recovering from a torn Achilles, the Saints still lack an elite pass-rushing option opposite Pro Bowl DE Cameron Jordan. Bleacher Report acknowledges that if the Saints ignore pass rush in the upcoming draft, it would be their biggest mistake.

The New Orleans Saints had a good defense in 2017—ranked 10th in scoring, allowing 20.4 points per game—but not a great one. The Saints pass rush, likewise, was good but not great. While it did amass 42 sacks in the regular season, it only produced six in two postseason games and one against the Vikings in the divisional round.

Perhaps if the Saints had gotten better pressure against Keenum, the Miracle in Minneapolis would never have happened.

New Orleans needs a consistent pass-rusher across from Cameron Jordan. Jordan finished the regular season with 13.0 sacks. No one else on the team had more than 4.5.

The Saints should be thinking edge-rusher in the first round as they don’t possess a second-round pick. They’re not going to land Bradley Chubb with the 27th overall pick, but they may be able to grab a guy like Arden Key or Texas-San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport.

Edge-rusher might not seem like New Orleans’ biggest need, but adding one who can come close to double-digit sacks as a rookie could do wonders for the defense and get the Saints closer to the Super Bowl.

With so many teams early in the draft to likely find their next franchise Quarterback, it would not be an absolute shock to see pass rushers start for fall in the first round.

After all of the hype around the New Orleans Saints potentially targeting Baker Mayfield (and now Lamar Jackson as Mayfield’s hype continues to grow across the NFL), the Saints should be absolutely ecstatic if a player like Marcus Davenport, Maurice Hurst, or Harold Landry were to fall to them at 27th overall.