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Why the New Orleans Saints Could Win it All, Part VI: Defensive Line

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The Saints paid a hefty price for a pass rusher.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

To see previous Parts, click below:

Part I: Offensive Line

Part II: Running Backs

Part III: Wide Receivers

Part IV: Tight Ends

Part V: Quarterbacks

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The Saints did the best they could to keep a healthy defensive line on the field in 2017. They lost Nick Fairley at DT before the season started. They signed Alex Okafor to play defensive end, but they lost him to a torn Achilles in an overtime win against the Washington Redskins. The Saints also lost 2017 NFL Draft pick Trey Hendrickson early in the season. To start 2017, some combination of Hendrickson and Okafor were expected to be the pass-rusher opposite Cam Jordan. Instead, the Saints were forced to rely on players like George Johnson to fill that void.

In the middle of the line, the Saints had Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata, and Tyeler Davison, with Rankins and Onyemata taking big steps forward in 2017.

So here’s why they’re better in 2018:

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The biggest reason the Saints defensive line should be improved in 2018 starts and ends with 1st Round Pick Marcus Davenport. After selecting the UTSA DE with the 14th overall pick, the Saints hope to finally have that elite pass rusher opposite Cam Jordan for the first time since belt-wielder-who-won’t-be-named.

But Davenport isn’t the only player who should help the Saints defensive line in 2018. The Saints also re-signed Alex Okafor, who was on his way to a career year in New Orleans before his injury. The Saints also should have a healthy Trey Hendrickson in 2018 and can look for continued growth from young players like Rankins, Onyemata, and Davison.

And with mutual growth from the secondary (spoiler alert), the defensive line should have an extra half second to wreak havoc on opposing QBs.