The New Orleans Saints have been looking for pass rush help since the Air Jesus BC’s made an appearance back in The Land Before Time.
Don’t look at me like that. It’s true!
While I’ve been a big proponent of the fact that a passing offense as prolific as the Saints needs a stout secondary to compliment it, ask anyone and they will tell you that quarterbacks fear being put on their backside more than they fear throwing an interception to a cornerback.
Following their 2009 Superbowl win, the Saints sat comfortably at 32nd overall right behind the Indianapolis Colts who already had both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis as bookend edge rushers in their zone heavy scheme.
If I’m the Saints and I’m projecting the picks before me, defensive end is a possibility, but not expected.
Alas, with the Colts on the clock, Paul Tagliabue makes his way up to the podium and announces that Indianapolis has selected DE/OLB Jerry Hughes of TCU with the 31st pick.
Word on the street is (and you didn’t hear this from me) it left the Saints scrambling, which resulted in Patrick Robinson being the selection at No. 32 followed by the prioritizing of a little known pass rusher by the name of Junior Galette out of Temple as an undrafted rookie free agent.
We know how that story unfolded, but fast forward 8 years and the scenario is eerily familiar.
- In 2009, the Saints were able to put together a good secondary that spurred them on to win the Superbowl.
- In 2017, the Saints were able to put together a good secondary that spurred them back to the playoffs.
- In both 2010 and 2018, the most logical step to improving on an improved secondary would be to juice up the pressure from the defensive line.
- Both Defensive Coordinators in Dennis Allen and Greg Williams are known for their pressure packages and high use of DB’s with up to 5 and 6 on the field at the same time.
- Cam Jordan and Will Smith were both coming off 13.0 sack seasons and were both 28 years of age.
- Drew Brees had thrown for fewest yards and attempts as a Saint. 514/4,388 in 2009 and 535/4334 in 2017.
So obviously to complete this little theory of mine, I need to find that edge rusher that’s comparable to Jerry Hughes right?
Insert Harold Landry, DE/OLB out of Boston College.
As of right now, people think it’s a pipe dream that Landry last until 27 — but is it really?
Historically, “tweeners” go later than earlier in the draft, especially if they have “tweener speed”. While Landry is being compared to Vic Beasley, he is a touch under him athletically. Beasley separates himself with a significant uptick in speed, (4.53 vs. 4.64), vertical (41” vs. 36”), strength (35 reps vs. 24 reps), and broad jump (130” vs. 119”) - suggesting Landry isn’t quite the prospect that Beasley was.
Landry is, however, closer to the likes of Jerry Hughes and Dee Ford athletically, who went 31st and 23rd in their respective drafts.
However, the caveat is in 2010 when there were three mid-round edge rushers (Brandon Graham, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Derrick Morgan) that likely pushed Hughes down. In 2018, there is only Marcus Davenport in front of Landry for second edge rusher behind Bradley Chubb. This is much closer to the 2014 situation that saw Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack, and Jadeveon Clowney go top 10 putting Ford in higher demand following the middle rounds.
This leads me to believe that Landry could go somewhere between picks 20 and 23.
With my belief that after missing on Pro Bowl level talents in Wilkerson, Suh, and Graham during free agency, the Saints “must” find that level of talent in the draft and low, and behold the only “must” that’s been left unaddressed is pass rusher.
Guess which avid trading partner has a pick at 23rd?
If the board falls a bit better than it did for the Saints in 2010, things could come full circle and they may find themselves adding a player that’s been compared by Mike Detillier to former edge terror and Saint Pat Swilling. Domefield Advantage anyone?