Linebacker rich Saints testing Martez Wilson at defensive end
By Keith Null
The New Orleans Saints and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo have a good problem, what do with all the linebackers currently on the roster, this after the team signed three good linebackers in free agency this year.
Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, and Chris Chamberlain were all brought in to help boost the defense.
Lofton should be the favorite to start at middle linebacker, Hawthorne on the weakside, and Chamberlain a top back-up even though he has proved productive in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense during his tenure with the Rams.
Besides these linebackers the Saints retained Jonathan Vilma (suspended), Scott Shanle, Will Herring, Jonathan Casillas, Nate Bussey, Ezra Butler, and Martez Wilson.
There are also newcomers Kadarron Anderson, Aaron Tevis, and Lawrence Wilson on th roster.
With so many linebackers in the mix it leaves little room for young promising players to step-up and make an impact, moreover outside linebacker Martez Wilson — who was originally drafted as a strong side linebacker — whom the Saints have decided to move to defensive end.
Given the plethora of options the Saints have at linebacker, coupled with the minimal depth at defensive end, it’s a move that makes sense for the team and for Wilson.
Wilson was originally a third round pick in last years draft out of Illinois and is a superb athlete that boarders on the “freakish” side.
At 6 foot 4, and 252 pounds, Martez has blazing speed after he was clocked at a 4.49 in the forty-yard dash — fastest at the NFL Combine in 2011.
Last season he demonstrated some good pass-rush ability as a DE/OLB hybrid.
He recorded ten tackles, and one very impressive sack on elusive Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Martez compares favorably to New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre Paul measurementally.
Pierre-Paul emerged with the Giants last season as one of the NFL’s premier 4-3 defensive ends, notching 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks.
If Wilson can learn the position quick enough to stick, even if he was half as productive as Pierre-Paul this season, then it’s still a win-win for the Saints.
Right defensive end Will Smith is still facing a four game suspension to start the 2012 season for his alleged involvement in the bounty program.
If the suspension sticks then the Saints are really in need of another good pass rusher.
Wilson is excited about the potential transition, and so far early reports from the teams on-going OTA’s are that they are pleased with his performance at defensive end.
Whether or not the move becomes permanent is still un-decided, but it seems the Saints have a diamond in the rough.