It’s an unusual off season for everyone attached to the NFL — players, franchises and fans alike — as currently both sides are locked into a legal battle under an NFL imposed player lockout.
The lockout forbids teams to interact with players on any level, that doesn’t mean though they cannot meet with the current crop of college players leading up to the draft.
New Orleans has been busy in recent weeks and no doubt have racked up a rather big visa bill as they continue to court blue-chip prospects, having already met with the nations top talent including Muhammad Wilkerson and Cameron Jordan.
North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant is next in line to get the royal treatment by the Saints, according to the National Football Post, who seem to have an inside line to the comings and goings of the Saints franchise.
General manager Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton surely are anxious to sit down with young man to pick his brain and determine what kind of NFL player he wants to be as well as adress any character concerns.
Sturdivant was arrested for marijuana possession last July which raises an immediate red flag for most teams. The Saints however prefer to look past the surface and are not easily turned away from “problem players”.
Currently Sturdivant is projected as a second to third round pick and is ranked as the second best inside linebacker. Question is are the Saints willing to burn a second, or third round pick to try him at outside linebacker in their 4-3 defense?
Scouts believe outside linebacker will be his best position in the pro’s, that is the Sam (strong) and Will (weak) in a 4-3 defense versus the “strong” and “weak” inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Sturdivant can fit in both schemes.
In New Orleans case they have long needed play-makers at both the weak and strong outside linebacker positions to pair with stud middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
Last year the Saints lost starting strong side linebacker Scott Fujita to the Cleveland Browns in free agency and struggled to find a suitable replacement that could match his production, revolving veteran Danny Clark and Jo-Lonn Dunbar throughout the season.
The current starter on the weakside is 31-year old veteran Scott Shanle (32 this November), a good serviceable backer but one that doesn’t turn in the big play very often and lacks overall speed.
In the off season last year Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was prepared to move Shanle from the weakside to the strong side after the emergence of young linebacker Jonathan Casillas in the pre-season.