Our friend Christopher Gates over at SB Nation’s Daily Norseman on the Minnesota Vikings, was kind enough to answer a few questions about one of the new additions to the New Orleans Saints: OL Nick Easton.
What do you think Easton’s long-term position is on the offensive line? Center or Guard? Maybe Tackle? Right side or left?
Easton was a pretty capable performer at center when he got some starts there, but the drafting of Pat Elflein in 2017 pushed him to the left guard spot. Honestly, I think he might be a better center than a guard, and it sounds like that’s where he’s going to play with the Saints. He’s certainly not at Max Unger’s level or anything, but given his abilities, I think he could be a pretty solid player at that spot for New Orleans. He didn’t play on the right side with the Vikings that I can recall, and the one season that he started at guard he played on the left side, so if the Saints don’t like him at center that’s probably his best fit.
Easton missed 4 games last year and 5 games the year before that. Are we at a point where we should be concerned that he’s injury prone?
I think it’s certainly a concern, particularly his most recent injury. The games his missed in 2017 were because of a broken ankle, which is something you’re generally not concerned about guys recovering from. He missed all of 2018 because of a herniated disk that he suffered during Training Camp, and that’s the one I think people have to be worried about. Those sorts of injuries aren’t the kind that you screw around with too much, and I know that Easton hasn’t played a meaningful football game since December of 2017. But those sorts of injuries are tricky, and they’re not going to know if he’s fully recovered until he actually gets out there and starts trying to push people around again.
What were Easton’s biggest strengths and weaknesses on the offensive line?
The Vikings’ coaches like Easton’s athletic ability, and he seems to be a very good pulling guard. The players he went against in practices reportedly said that they hated going against him because of his attitude, which for an offensive lineman I think is a positive. I think that he’s much better in space than he is as a straight-up blocker, and though I’m not entirely familiar with the sorts of blocking schemes the Saints run, I’d be shocked if they didn’t use him that way.
At 4 years and $22.5 million (with only $4 million guaranteed), did the Saints overpay for someone who has yet to prove himself as a capable NFL starting offensive lineman?
Of the three Vikings’ free agents the Saints signed, I think Easton is easily the one I’d be most concerned about. As you said, he has limited starting experience, and while he’s been alright as a starter, he doesn’t really jump out in any way. Couple that with the fact that he is coming off of a pretty serious injury, and that contributes to people being surprised with how much the Saints were willing to give him.
As far as you are aware, were there any locker room concerns with Easton during his time in Minnesota?
I don’t recall hearing any off-field or locker room concerns with Easton that would lead anyone to believe that he would present any issues that would disrupt team chemistry or anything.
Thank-you, for taking the time to talk with us! Saints fans, make sure you check out their work over at Daily Norseman. You can follow them on Twitter at @DailyNorseman, and of course, as always, you can follow me on Twitter @dunnellz.