With all of the talk around wide receivers, cornerbacks, and defensive tackles, it’s hard to remember that the New Orleans Saints also lost key contributors to their special teams unit this offseason.
Justin Hardee, a specials teams ace on both the punt and kickoff units, is now a member of the New York Jets, and the Saints will need to find someone to replace the former Illinois standout.
Bleacher Report pegs Wisconsin safety Eric Burrell to be that guy, as they named Burrell as the best undrafted free agent on the New Orleans Saints roster:
While the Saints moved on from Trill Williams pretty quickly, they’ve held on to fellow undrafted safety Eric Burrell thus far. The former Wisconsin strong safety could stick as a developmental safety and special teamer.
The 6’0”, 195-pound defender possesses the strength, aggressiveness and big-hitting ability to make an impact on the back end and in punt coverage. In seven games with the Badgers last season, Burrell logged 23 tackles, two tackles for loss, two passes defended and an interception. He had three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 2019.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Burrell will be the Saints’ depth. They are loaded with safety talent—including Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins and P.J. Williams—and may not have a spot for Burrell in the defensive lineup. Look for him to initially find a home on special teams or as a member of New Orleans’ practice squad.
In addition to possibly finding time as a special teamer, the addition of Brian Poole could mean C.J. Gardner-Johnson might see time as an outside cornerback, leaving a potential opening to backup Poole as a slot option. Burrell saw time in the slot while at Wisconsin, and regardless of where he lined up, he provided above-average coverage.
We’ll see if Burrell is able to crack the final Saints roster.
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