Jared Verse would normally be the Saints’ ideal prototypical pass rusher. Is he still?

Jared Verse would normally be the Saints’ ideal prototypical pass rusher. Is he still?
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INDIANAPOLIS — If you were to sketch it out, Jared Verse — almost comically so — looks like the prototypical pass rusher the New Orleans Saints have come to pursue in the NFL Draft. Verse stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 260 pounds, putting him in line with the Payton Turners, Isaiah Foskeys, Trey Hendricksons and Marcus Davenports of the world.

And that’s before you get to his film, where a big, strong explosive athlete sure seems to resemble the kinds of defensive ends the Saints have targeted.

But there are a few things to understand about Verse and the Saints before rushing to update your mock drafts. For one, the 23-year-old might not be available when the Saints pick at No. 14 — especially with their old coach, Sean Payton, picking ahead of them with the Denver Broncos just a few spots before. But more broadly, the Saints’ recent history with drafting pass rushers has been … mixed, to say the least.

Turner and Foskey have missed more games combined (43) than they have career sacks (3). Davenport, last with Minnesota, turned out to not be worth the price of trading up. Hendrickson is, by far, the best of the bunch, but he stars for the Cincinnati Bengals. And in 2023 alone, the Saints’ defensive ends accounted for just 14 of the team’s 34 sacks.

Is the Saints’ prototype still worth pursuing?

The simple answer may be that it depends on the player.

“My relentless effort,” Verse said when asked what he’s going to bring to the NFL. “I’ve told a lot of people this. I can’t promise you anything. I can’t promise you I’m going to go out there and give you 20 something sacks — I can promise I’m going to give you my all.

“I can change the whole (opposing) gameplan, change the way they block, plan they scheme, every way they play.”

As much as he appears to be an ideal Saint on paper, Verse wasn’t always that way. Before landing at Florida State, Verse was once a small recruit — literally and figuratively. He was 18, an inch shorter and 60 pounds lighter. He told reporters that he received only one offer in high school, committing to FCS University of Albany.

But in 2020, when the pandemic shut down in-person classes, and Verse suddenly had a lot more time on his hands, he committed to bulking up as he gained 40 pounds. From there, his game thrived. First, he earned defensive rookie of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association and an even better 2021 (9 ½ sacks) campaign helped him transfer to Florida State. Then as Seminole, Verse had two straight nine-sack seasons to help make him one of the top rushers in this year’s class.

At Florida State, Verse became “a different person.” He honed his technique under coach Mike Norvell, crediting the school’s staff for refining his areas such as hand placement and balance at the line. He also was asked to play in a variety of roles, from rushing in different stances to even dropping back in coverage.

“You look at me in high school, you look at me today,” Verse said, “you’d probably be like, ‘What the?’”

With reporters swarming him near the podium, Verse said he met with teams like the Chicago Bears (the ninth pick) and the Broncos (No. 12). He couldn’t remember if he had or planned to meet with the Saints, he said.

For New Orleans, the Saints’ lack of recent pass-rushing productivity has appeared to cause the team’s brass to at least reconsider their beliefs when it comes to certain traits.

At his season-ending press conference, coach Dennis Allen said he didn’t see the team moving “too far” from its preferred prototypes, though admitted a “bit of a change up” could add a “fastball” to the rush. At the Senior Bowl, assistant general manager Jeff Ireland said the Saints have to “evolve” to get the best athletes on the field.

“There used to be all these 6-(foot)-4, 34 -inch arm, 270-pound defensive ends, and now guys are getting to the quarterback and they’re a little bit smaller, a little bit faster,” Ireland said. “I still think you have to play with power, but they come in all shapes and sizes and you have to be ready to have a really clear vision for how you’re going to utilize that player.

“But they’ve really all come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. But I think you just have to be open to adding that player that (you) have a real clear vision on how you’re going to use him.”

With Verse, the vision isn’t hard to imagine.

“No matter what position I go, whether I go first round, second round, maybe all the way down to the seventh, I’m going to give everything I have,” Verse said.

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About Mary Weyand 12338 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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