Is linebacker a sneaky need for the Saints in this draft? One player checks all the boxes

Is linebacker a sneaky need for the Saints in this draft? One player checks all the boxes
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The NFL draft is fast approaching, and the New Orleans Saints are currently armed with eight picks.

After fortifying some of their major weaknesses in free agency, New Orleans should be in a position where it doesn’t have to force a pick at a specific position when its turn comes around. Still, some positions could use more help than others.

With that in mind, let’s take a position-by-position look before the draft’s arrival to see who could make sense for the Saints in 2023.

Linebacker

Need: Sneaky high

The lowdown: The Saints run a 4-3 base defense, but they spend so much of their time in sub packages that they really only have two starting linebackers, and they’re set on those. Demario Davis may not be exactly the same player he was when he first signed, but at 34 years old he’s excellent in a different way and is coming off his sixth straight season with at least 100 tackles and 10 tackles for loss. Pete Werner was excellent when healthy last season, and is locked in next to Davis as the starting WILL. But the cause for concern is right there: Davis is 34, Werner has been injured in each of his first two pro seasons, and Kaden Elliss is not returning to keep everything afloat. The Saints could use a high-level backup plan at off-ball linebacker.

Potential fits: Iowa LB Jack Campbell, Clemson LB Trenton Simpson, Arkansas LB Drew Sanders, Utah LB Mohamoud Diabate, Texas LB DeMarvion Overshown, Michigan State LB Ben VanSumeren

Best-case scenario: The Saints definitely have a type when it comes to picking the linebackers they want to draft.

Since 2017, New Orleans has used five draft picks on linebackers. Each of those players stood between 6-1 and 6-3 and weighed between 233-241 pounds (and three of them weighed exactly 238 at the combine). Of the five, only Zack Baun (7.85) scored below eight on the Relative Athletic Score metric.

There are a handful of players in this class who fit those parameters — and one, specifically, who is essentially a supercharged version of what the Saints have drafted in the past.

It is hard to look at Iowa’s Jack Campbell and not think he’s a perfect Saints prospect. He is the biggest linebacker in the class at 6-4 and 249 pounds, and he posted elite-level marks across the board at the NFL combine. His 9.98 RAS is the best among this linebacker class.

Beyond that, Campbell was a two-time captain for the Hawkeyes and he was one of the most productive linebackers in college football the last two seasons, leading the FBS in tackles as a junior then winning the Butkus Award (given annually to the nation’s top linebacker) as a senior.

It’s possible Campbell could be gone before the Saints turn comes around in the first round, but it’s just as likely that he’s there when the Saints are on the clock in the second round. If the Saints are indeed looking for a linebacker, and Campbell is as high on their radar as his traits suggest he might be, that would be the likely spot for him.

Clemson’s Trenton Simpson and Arkansas’ Drew Sanders are also interesting options. Simpson (6-2, 235, 9.84 RAS) is a versatile plug-and-play linebacker who could thrive in sub packages, while Sanders (6-4, 235, 8.95 RAS) burst onto the scene with a huge year at Arkansas (103 tackles, 9.5 sacks) after transferring from Alabama. Both fit the size/athleticism requirements for the Saints.

Tulane linebacker Dorian Williams could potentially fill the need, but falls a little below the size threshold at 6-1 and 228 pounds.

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About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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