New Orleans Saints: NFL Draft prospects coming at a bargain, part one

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Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

1. Yannic Ngakoue, Edge defender, Maryland

Age as a rookie: 21 (Birthday in March)

Listed height, weight:  6-foot-2, 255 pounds

Where He Wins:  Yannick Ngakoue (pronounced in-gah-kway) is a tremendous pass-rusher.  He tied with Florida Atlantic University’s Trey Hendrickson for the second-most sacks in the nation (14), behind only Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib (16).  What’s fascinating about Ngakoue is his consistency — he recorded one or more sacks in all but two games and made three or more tackles in all but four games.  He did have several games with multiple sacks but was generally productive regardless of opponent.

Ngakoue would fit best with the New Orleans Saints as a pass-rush specialist to pair with Hau’oli Kikaha at strongside defensive end.  He can rush the passer with a hand in the dirt or standing up, and is a better athlete than Kikaha with a reported 4.7 second 40-yard dash time.  There are concerns about Ngakoue’s size, with some analysts suggesting that he is shorter than his listed height.  He will also need to get stronger to deal with NFL offensive tackles.

Right now, Ngakoue too often gets blasted off of the line of scrimmage when defending the run.  Adding more muscle mass will let him transition into being more of a three-down player who can beef up the Saints’ pass rush along with Kikaha and Cameron Jordan.  Kikaha, who could teach Ngakoue a lot about hand usage and refining the rougher aspects of his game, would be an ideal veteran influence him.

Pro Comparison:  Elvis Dumervil.  Like Ngakoue, Dumervil is a vertically-challenged pass rusher at 5-foot-11.  Because of that and stretches of quiet production in college, Dumervil fell to the fourth round in 2006.  Dumervil has not let that deter him thanks to a tremendous work ethic and knack for getting after the passer, logging 96 sacks and 21 forced fumbles in his career.  If his future can be anything like Dumervil’s, the New Orleans Saints would be wise to keep Ngakoue’s name high on their list next spring.

Next: 2. Who's the best tight end available?