The New Orleans Saints looked to address what was a pretty depleted defensive tackle group as the team saw both David Omenyata and Shy Tuttle sign with division rivals the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers respectively. The Saints went out and signed former Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Khalen Saunders who had a career year in 2022, and knows all about winning having won 2 super bowls with the Chiefs.
Saunders had a career year with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022 playing in a career best 16 games and recording a career high in several categories including snaps (511) tackles (48), sacks (3), and quarterback hits (8). When you watch him on tape immediately what stands out is his speed and athleticism, Saunders ran a 5.01 40 at the NFL combine in 2019 which is just flat out impressive for a defensive tackle to give you an idea former Chief Dontari Poe ran a 4.98 40 and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Gerald McCoy ran a 5.04 40.
Another thing that stands out with Saunders game is something you really can’t measure or record with a stopwatch. His effort is just something that needs to be admired, every play I’ve seen he’s hustling nonstop and trying to make a play even when he isn’t near the ball. Playing in Kansas City with a winning mentality will do that for players, it’s infectious and makes guys hustle and really just boost morale and attitude all around. From a pure football standpoint Saunders plays he run really well and gets off the line fast and initiates that first contact and with his size, strength, and athleticism he’s often won more battles than lost on the line of scrimmage. He does have potential as a pass rusher and with just his pure power could be the most impressive and powerful force at the defensive tackle position the Saints have seen in a while. Everything I’ve seen and read about Saunders shows he’s a great teammate and locker room presence which has been the something the Saints have valued when it comes to brining in players. Saunders should make immediate and positive impact on this Saints defensive line group heading into 2023 and could easily become a fan favorite as training camp and the season moves along.
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