Right now, the New Orleans Saints are in a precarious position on their defense. The secondary and defensive line is thin, and if they suffer just one injury at those positions, they could find themselves in dire straits early in the season. While there are a plethora of defensive ends on their roster, the defensive tackle position is basically David Onyemata and whoever else can be on the field at the time.
While Malcolm Roach and Shy Tuttle have both shown flashes at the position, there’s clearly a lot of work to be done there. The Saints were 19th in the league last season in run stop win rate, at 30 percent overall. Some more consistency at the tackle position would surely help those numbers.
Defensive tackle was an overlooked position for the Saints this offseason, and most of the tackles available are on the wrong side of 30. So is the next interior stopper for the Saints already on the roster?
Here’s a quick look at the defensive ends the Saints have on their roster right now. There’s Cameron Jordan, who isn’t going anywhere on the line (even if he is occasionally mixed inside of the tackles) full-time. Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner weren’t drafted to play tackle, and this is Davenport’s last chance to earn another contract from the Saints. That would leave Noah Spence, Carl Granderson and Tanoh Kpassagnon.
The oft-injured Spence doesn’t seem like a full-time solution, and coming off of an ACL tear it’s hard to imagine him getting regular snaps. Furthermore, Spence doesn’t have a frame that agrees with being inside. CSC’s Gregory Layfield has laid out the high hopes for Granderson at defensive end, and he can be a key rotational piece for the Saints while Turner figures things out at the NFL level.
That ultimately leaves Kpassagnon — with the caveat that he bulks up a bit. Kpassagnon is 6-feet-7-inches and 289 pounds, so it’s fair to say that he is large. He’s never been a sack master, so if the Saints can convert him into a strong presence on the inside, that would more than pay off his signing.
Kpassagnon is a player with insane reach and good speed, but at his height it could be a little harder to get off the line of scrimmage from a three or four-point stance. That’s ultimately the biggest challenge in converting him.
The Saints, however, will have to get creative inside. While Roach and Tuttle are by no means slouches, having a three-man interior rotation with them and Onyemata is a recipe for disaster. If Kpassagnon was brought in with the thought of putting him inside to help out a sparse position, then that makes the decision to bring him in make a lot of sense.