The New Orleans Saints defensive line was arguably one of their best units in 2020, due in no small part to up-and-comers like Trey Hendrickson and Carl Granderson instead of the typical anchors to the line like Cam Jordan and Sheldon Rankins.
Granderson, who joined the Saints in 2019 after pleading no contest to a sexual battery charge from 2018, has played well with limited opportunities. He has a long way to go, both on and off the field, before he could be trusted as a play-maker, but he’s making all of the right strides.
Carl Granderson - At a Glance
- Approximate Value: 2
- Defensive Grade: 65.8 (12th best on the team)
- Tackling Grade: 25.5 (2nd worst on team)
- Run Defense: 52.3
- Total Snaps: 330 snaps on defense and 184 on special teams
Granderson is entering his age 25 season, so there’s reason to think he could improve on his 2020 numbers that included 9 quarterback hits and 2 forced fumbles. His 9 QB hits equate to an average of one hit in every .02 snaps. Cam Jordan, for reference, averaged a QB hit in ever .017 snaps.
Granderson’s strengths remain as a pass rusher as his tackling grade indicates his struggles defending the run. This is likely why Granderson played 194 snaps rushing the quarterback and only 131 snaps in obvious running situations. With increased snaps has come increased tools to his pass-rushing playbook. Last year, he was fairly limited as just a guy who could try to overpower you to get to the quarterback:
Rookie DE Carl Granderson got 1 snap vs. Tyron Smith in week 4 and got indoctrinated into the snatch/trap king's catalog of victims pic.twitter.com/hBg4a1H1Xy— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 2, 2019
Now, he’s starting to add more finesse moves to his repertoire as evidenced by this spin move late in the season last year:
Carl Granderson only played 15 snaps Vs. the Falcons, but watch the move he puts on this right tackle late in the fourth pic.twitter.com/w1eWxnEXrk— Andrew Bell (@AndrewBell_98) November 23, 2020
If Granderson can continue to grow and improve as both a player and a person, he could provide incredible value with only a $855,000 cap hit in 2021. If team sack leader Trey Hendrickson signs with another team in free agency, the Saints could look to players like Carl Granderson to help fill in that void.
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