Saints 2020 Year-in-Review: Carl Granderson

New Orleans DE Carl Granderson progressed from his promising 2019 season.  With the loss of Trey Hendrickson, even bigger things are expected from Granderson in 2021.
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At the conclusion of the 2018 NCAA football season, defensive end Carl Granderson of the University of Wyoming looked ready to embark on a promising NFL career. Granderson had a productive collegiate career, recording 16.5 sacks, 36 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and forcing 3 fumbles. His size, athleticism, and production had many experts predicting he’d be drafted in the middle rounds and perhaps even a Day 2 selection.

Unfortunately, Granderson found himself mired in legal problems just before the draft. He would plead guilty to sexual battery and would receive a six-month sentence. Those issues caused him to fall out of the draft, but New Orleans took a chance and signed the undrafted Granderson to a three-year contract.

New Orleans defensive end Carl Granderson (96) stops Titans running back Dalyn Dawkins (28) © George Walker IV / Tennessean.com, Nashville Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

New Orleans defensive end Carl Granderson (96) stops Titans running back Dalyn Dawkins (28) © George Walker IV / Tennessean.com, Nashville Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Granderson would miss the entire preseason and first half of the 2019 regular season while serving his sentence. He’d finally midway through his rookie year, flashing the potential that many coaches and scouts coveted. In nine games of action, he had a sack, 2 tackles for loss among his 11 total tackles, and 3 QB pressures.

His legal issues now behind him, Granderson was expected to be a bigger contributor to a deep New Orleans defensive line in his second season. Today's Year-in-Review spotlight looks back at Granderson's progress.

CARL GRANDERSON

Dec 6, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia; Saints defensive end Carl Granderson (96) hits Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) causing a fumble. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 6, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia; Saints defensive end Carl Granderson (96) hits Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) causing a fumble. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Granderson made an immediate impact during the regular season opener against the Buccaneers, recording a key sack, forcing a fumble, and adding two pressures in just 23 snaps. Despite a deep edge rotation of Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and a breakout season from Trey Hendrickson, Granderson earned snaps as a situational pass rusher.

Granderson wouldn't pick up his second sack of the year until a Week 13 home win over Atlanta, but gave the defense quality snaps every week. He had the most disruptive game of his young career in a Week 15 loss to Kansas City, recording 1 sack and 4 QB pressures. He capped off the regular season with 2 sack performance in a road victory over Carolina.

Dec 20, 2020; New Orleans Saints defensive end Carl Granderson (96) sacks Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15). Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY 

Dec 20, 2020; New Orleans Saints defensive end Carl Granderson (96) sacks Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15). Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY 

Granderson recorded 5 sacks, 11 pressures, 2 forced fumbles, and 9 QB hits despite playing on just 28% of the defensive snaps in 2020. His run defense improved from his rookie season, while showing an impressive combination of power and explosiveness as a pass rusher.

Carl Granderson is in the last year of his rookie contract, but will only be a restricted free agent in 2022. With the loss of DE Trey Hendrickson in free agency, Carl Granderson has an opportunity to step into a prominent role for the New Orleans defense.