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Kwon Alexander visit sends mixed signals for Saints defense

Continuity is always good, but is it best in this case?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With Kwon Alexander reportedly visiting the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, the rumor mill is buzzing. Linebacker is a position in flux for the Saints right now, with both Zack Baun and Pete Werner ostensibly vying for on-field duties alongside Demario Davis when the Saints have multiple linebackers on the field.

Alexander would bring some much-needed depth to the position, but signing him would raise as many questions as it would provide answers. First of all, although he appears to be running well, coming off of a late-season Achilles tear is no mean feat. The first thing Alexander needs to get legitimate reps for the Saints is a clean bill of health.

Another question swirling around Alexander is where would his role lie on the Saints defense in its current iteration? Alexander doesn’t do a lot of pushing in the trenches, which would make him a situational player. With the Saints’ interior pressure already suffering after David Onyemata’s suspension, they need to find every-down difference makers at the second level.

Alexander logged 27 tackles for the Saints last season (and another 30 with the 49ers), but the fact that his forte lies in pass defense could bode well his chances of being sign. Due to Davis’s excellent blitzing ability and his nose for the ball, Alexander would be able to drop into coverage with abandon. That’s a good thing for a team mostly populated by young linebackers.

The concern is that this could stunt the growth of players the Saints have been fairly high on. The Saints traded up to No. 74 to land Baun, so his growth would have to begin soon. Furthermore, drafting Werner shows the Saints clearly have a future planned at linebacker.

None of this, of course, undermines the fact that more competition is always good, and Alexander would challenge those young players. If they win the position, then they earned the spot outright. If Alexander does, the risk of blown coverages is drastically reduced, as Dennis Allen’s coverages aren’t overly friendly to young players. But Werner and Baun need to get reps if the Saints are going to see what they have in them.

Ultimately, Alexander played well enough after being signed last season to warrant a good hard look — If he’s healthy. If the price is right, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing a player of his caliber. However, cornerback and defensive tackle have to be at the front of their minds as the season approaches.


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