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Saints need a Hybrid at Linebacker | NFL Combine Prospects

The NFL teams are embracing the role of a hybrid (tweener) on rosters in recent years. The Saints can use a hybrid player on defense in 2020.

The NFL teams are embracing the role of a hybrid (tweener) on rosters in recent years. The Saints can use a hybrid player on defense in 2020.

Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons recorded a 4.39 seconds 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine. Simmons is a hybrid player at 6-4 and 230 lbs. Remarkably, to watch Simmons run in 4.39 seconds at his height and weight was incredible. 

Rams DE Michael Brockers was on NFL Network giving an analysis of Simmons.  He compared Simmons to how the Rams used LB Mark Barron on their 2018 roster.  Barron is a hybrid inside linebacker.  He possessed the skills to play safety at times and cover tight ends or slot receivers. 

NFL scouts and analysts coined the phrase for hybrid players as tweeners.  Hybrid players are weapons for defensive coordinators in today’s professional game. These players add a new dimension to a coach’s game plan.  Coaches will disguise pass coverages and add new packages on defense.  These players are valuable and defend well against fast, strong, and tall tight ends and wide receivers. 

Examine how Clemson used the Butkus Award winner in 2019:

The NFL is searching for linebackers and defensive backs able to cover these nightmare players for defensive coordinators. Saints fans realize there is a need in New Orleans. In December, the 49ers trailed 46-45 to the Saints. QB Jimmy Garoppolo located TE George Kittle at 6-4 on the smaller Saints DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson at 5-11. Kittle converted the 4th and 2 play with 39 seconds left in the contest.  Kyle Shanahan exploited Gardner-Johnson’s size against Kittle on the play. Gardner-Johnson missed the tackle, Kittle barreled down the sidelines into New Orleans territory and the rest is history.  

The recent defensive let-downs late in important games by the Saints are examples of why NFL coaches need faster, stronger, and taller defensive players at linebacker or safety.  If a player can cover a tight end, running back or slot wide receiver in passing situations, they will have a role on defense in today’s NFL.  Position versatility is the key. 

The Saints starting LB A.J. Klein is a free-agent. Some NFL analysts have New Orleans evaluating talent at the linebacker position to select in the first round.

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LB Patrick Queen - Hybrid

SIDELINE TO SIDELINE LINEBACKERS

  1. LSU LB Patrick Queen ran a 4.5 in the 40 yard-dash. He is a playmaker and can cover from sideline to sideline. It would be difficult for the Saints to pass on Queen if he slipped to #24. Queen’s draft projections range from the middle of the first-round to the firs-half of the second round.
  2. LB Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma at 6-2.5 and 242 lbs ran a 4.52 seconds in the 40. His size, strength, leadership, and natural gifts will make most NFL coaches ready to insert him into their starting lineup. Murray could be a great fit for the Saints.
Kenneth Murray - Linebacker

NFL Hybrids are also important players to an offensive line.  If a player can play multiple positions, it will increase their value to a team.  New Orleans will be in the market for someone to play Guard-Tackle or Guard-Center.  

Saints Terron Armstead can use a solid backup at the tackle position.  Armstead missed significant playing time over the past few years because of injuries.  Andrus Peat would slide over to the left and play his position.  However, Peat is an unrestricted free agent in 2020.  This has New Orleans in a quandary.  They would need to re-sign Peat or recruit an all-around lineman in the NFL Draft or free agency.

What are your thoughts on the Saints Linebaker Prospects? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Mike Detillier's 2020 NFL Draft Guide are ready for order at www.mikedetillier.com. Mike will hold an exclusive NFL Draft Masterclass for Saints News Network in March.