Projecting the Saints 53-man Roster: Defensive End
The New Orleans Saints have sacked opposing quarterbacks 100 times over the last two seasons, including 51 sacks in 2019. Twenty-nine of those takedowns last year came from the defensive end position, where the Saints boast one of the better young players in the game and one of the league's best all-around defenders. Roster spots on a deep New Orleans defensive line are mostly established, but a few offseason additions could add to the preseason competition.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS DEFENSIVE ENDS
- Anthony Chickillo (LB/DE)
- Marcus Davenport
- Mario Edwards Jr. (DE/DT)
- Carl Granderson
- Trey Hendrickson
- Margus Hunt (DE/DT)
- Cameron Jordan
Marcus Davenport (6’6” 265-Lbs., 23-Yrs old)
Davenport heads into his third pro season with questions surrounding his durability. New Orleans traded two 1st round picks and a 5th rounder to select the talented DE with the 14th overall selection of the 2018 draft. Davenport has been a disruptive presence opposite of Cam Jordan, tallying 6 sacks, 26 QB pressures, 5 tackles for loss, and forcing 3 fumbles last season. He is an athletic freak who also plays the run well but has been hobbled or missed key games with foot injuries in each of his two years.
Trey Hendrickson (6’4” 270-Lbs., 25-Yrs old)
A 3rd round pick in the team's 2017 draft haul, Hendrickson has developed into one of the Saints more dependable defenders. He plays with a tenacious intensity on the edge and had career bests in sacks (4.5), QB pressures (17), and tackles for loss (4) in 2019. Hendrickson lacks the athleticism of Davenport but has filled in capably in his absence.
Cameron Jordan (6’4” 287-Lbs., 31-Yrs old)
One of the NFL's best defenders at any position, Jordan continued to wreck opposing offenses in his ninth season, earning his third straight Pro Bowl bid and fifth in his career. He had a career-high 15.5 sacks and 49 QB pressures in 2019 and is also one of the league's best run defenders along the edge. Jordan can beat opposing linemen either inside or around the edge with a rare combination of speed, power, and moves.
ON THE BUBBLE:
Anthony Chickillo (6’3” 255-Lbs., 27-Yrs old)
The Saints added Chickillo as a free agent after spending the first five years of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also in the mix for one of the team's LB spots, Chickillo must improve his pass coverage but is a good special teams contributor with adequate pass-rushing skills.
Mario Edwards Jr. (6’3” 280-Lbs., 26-Yrs old)
Edwards contributed 3 sacks, 4 QB pressures, and a forced fumble in 14 games of action in his first year with New Orleans. The former 2nd round pick of the 2015 draft adds valuable versatility with his ability to play either DE or DT, giving him a slight edge to earn a spot on this deep defensive line.
Carl Granderson (6’5” 261-Lbs., 23-Yrs old)
Now free of the legal issues that caused him to miss all last offseason and the first portion of the regular season as an undrafted rookie, Granderson could quickly play a prominent role in the New Orleans defense. He had 2 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, and a sack in eight games of action as a rookie. Granderson has good length and strength at the edge, plays the run well, and could add a pass-rushing option for the Saints defense.
Margus Hunt (6’8” 295-Lbs., 33-Yrs old)
Hunt was 2nd round pick by the Bengals in the 2013 NFL Draft. The best three years of his career were with the Colts before signing with the Saints this offseason. Like Edwards, Hunt’s ability to play both inside and outside could allow him to earn a roster spot.
New Orleans will probably keep 4-5 players who can play the DE position. Granderson has exciting potential and has the upper hand for the fourth spot behind Jordan, Davenport, and Hendrickson. The battle between Edwards and Hunt could fill another defensive line spot, with either player capable of playing inside and outside. Still, Chickillo also has the experience and versatility to keep him in the mix. The biggest question from this position is whether Marcus Davenport can stay healthy and continue developing to give the Saints a lethal and disruptive 1-2 combination with Cam Jordan along the edge.