Saints' Defensive Interior a Huge Concern Going Into 2021

No David Onyemata on the Saints defensive line to start the season makes things a little bit tougher and their outlook cloudier.
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This week sees Saints football returning, as we look forward to several training camp practices that get started on Thursday. New Orleans has had plenty of storylines to follow going into the next couple of months, with the latest being without Michael Thomas for several months. We conclude our defensive preview with a look at the interior line, which now has a bunch of question marks going into 2021.

Previous Entries: Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety | Special Teams | Quarterback | Tight End | Running Back | Offensive Line

Saints Defensive Tackle Depth

  • David Onyemata
  • Shy Tuttle
  • Malcolm Roach
  • Ryan Glasgow
  • Jalen Dalton
  • Josiah Bronson
  • Albert Huggins
  • Lorenzo Neal Jr.
Tuttle tackles Dalvin Cook

Shy Tuttle is one of many Saints who have to have a larger role in 2021

Starter Troubles

David Onyemata will start the season suspended, which will force him to miss six games. New Orleans was already going into the year turning to Shy Tuttle and Malcolm Roach to pair alongside him, as they lost Sheldon Rankins (free agency) and Malcom Brown (trade). Now, they're having to figure out both spots. 

The Saints interior were once a big strength on defense, which helped them put together a big string of not allowing a 100-yard rusher. That got exposed in a big way when Malcom Brown was out of the picture. They're certainly going to be tested out of the gate facing the likes of Aaron Jones, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquon Barkley in the time Onyemata will be out.

Nothing But Opportunity

Jalen Dalton was one of the players that I previously highlighted to not overlook at training camp. Before sustaining a season-ending triceps injury, he was having a strong camp. He may be more suited as nose guy to eat blocks and be a strong run-stuffing presence, and Bob Rose highlighted his NFL journey at the end of June. If he can stay healthy, he has a great chance to make the final squad.

Ryan Glasgow had some playing time last year against the Falcons and Broncos in back-to-back weeks, totaling 34 snaps. He had some moments, but was mostly a practice squad presence. The opportunity is there for him entering his fifth season.

After Dalton and Glasgow, the Saints have two undrafted rookies looking to make their mark in Josiah Bronson and Lorenzo Neal Jr., as well as Albert Huggins. Huggins is on his ninth NFL team since joining the league in 2019, while Neal Jr. gets his career started at the same place his father did. On Bronson, when we previewed the undrafted rookie class, what stood out was his agility and power. He also got a big $165,000 guaranteed signing bonus from the team.

Geno Atkins is a popular name Saints fans are wanting on the roster with Onyemata out

Geno Atkins is a popular name Saints fans are wanting on the roster with Onyemata out

Veteran Addition Looming?

It won't be surprising to see New Orleans pursue a veteran defensive tackle. There's plenty out there, with Geno Atkins and Kawann Short being the popular names fans want to see added. Not to be forgotten, Jurrell Casey would be one of my personal picks. One wild card to potentially throw out would be Sylvester Williams, who spent several months with the team in 2019, but did not survive final cuts.

The Saints could see what they have at first, but this will be something to keep an eye on.

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