New Orleans Saints 2015 midseason defense report card

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Oct 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Kevin Williams (93) and defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrate a defensive play against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half of their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Cam Jordan: A+
You can’t get much better than Cam Jordan.  In fact, if you’re in a 4-3 defense, you can’t get better than Jordan at all, according to Pro Football Focus. Jordan currently ranks fourth in the NFL with six sacks, as he’s constantly in the backfield disrupting the opposing quarterback.  And as for stopping the run, good luck trying to get by him — he’s as good as it gets.  Through eight games, Jordan is the best player on the New Orleans Saints’ defense, and that big money extension is certainly paying off. Now in his fifth season, he has yet to miss a game.  That’s the kind of consistency winning teams look for.

DE Bobby Richardson: C
Richardson has been a pleasant surprise as one of those “nobodies” from the undrafted free agent market.  While he isn’t anything spectacular, the rookie is young and has shown tremendous growth as the season progressed.  He gets in the backfield on occasion to disrupt forming plays, but it’s his run-stopping abilities that have earned notice.  He works his tail off, and that’s what coaches want to see.  The Saints may have found one of those undrafted gems they’ve been so good at discovering in the past.

DE Kasim Edebali: C-
Edebali is third on the team with three sacks, which aren’t eye-popping numbers, but he is proving himself to be a pest to offenses.  The Germany native is finding himself in his second year, especially after the departure of Junior Galette and now Akiem Hicks in the pass rush.  Edebali has shown flashes of his abilities, but his inconsistency keeps his snap count low.  He’s growing.

DT Kevin Williams: B
Once arguably the best tackle in the league, Williams’ career has taken sort of a decline due to wear and tear that comes along with age.  However, since the six-time Pro Bowler signed with the New Orleans Saints this offseason, he’s been a pleasant surprise.  A plug in the middle of the line, he has excelled in run defense through eight games.  At age 35, Williams is giving the Saints everything he’s got left in the tank, and that’s exactly what they were hoping for when they signed him.

DT John Jenkins: C
Your average defensive tackle with no real glaring weaknesses or strengths, Jenkins is in New Orleans to plug up the middle of the field, and that’s what he’s doing.  He leads all linemen in tackles and is second in stops.  With Brodrick Bunkley out of the picture and a 4-3 scheme back in place, Jenkins’ role expanded.  He’s not having a great season, but he’s not having a bad season, and there’s are always room for improvement to bring that grade up.  He’s got the motor to do so.

DT Tyeler Davison: C-
Davison is a work in progress and could pan out to be a nice little steal out of the fifth round of the draft this year.  The rookie had a relentless motor in college, and he’s showing it in New Orleans.  He hasn’t posted big numbers through eight games, but he is second on the team in quarterback hits behind Cam Jordan.  The potential is there for Davison to improve.  Give him time and it should happen.

Overall Defensive Line Grade: C-
Cam Jordan aside, the defensive line is the weakest department in the New Orleans Saints organization.  With severe inconsistency in both the run defense and pass rush to start the year, this unit struggled tremendously, which ultimately led to big play opportunities for opposing offenses.  A few weeks ago, they would have earned a big, fat F. However, it seems they, along with the rest of the defense, are finally coming around.  This is a young defensive line with plenty of room to grow, and they’re showing it as the season progresses.

Next: Linebackers

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