The 2016 Senior Bowl is this Saturday. Many coaches, scouts, and general managers will be on hand to see players that they will be drafting in the upcoming draft.
As for the New Orleans Saints, there are many different positions that they will be keeping an eye on. The most glaring needs for the Saints would be defensive tackle, weakside linebacker, defensive end, and guard. So instead of going in depth on just a few players, I’m going to give you a few at each position of need for the Saints so that the fans can keep their eye on them during the game.
The first position of need is defensive tackle, and there are going to be a large amount of them at the Senior Bowl. Starting with the South team, we highlight Jarran Reed out of the University of Alabama. He is 6-foot-4, 313 pounds, and was a force on the Crimson Tide defensive line. He started out at East Mississippi Community College and then transferred to the University of Alabama. As each year passed, Reed got better and better and was a force in the middle his senior year. He has great pass rushing moves and quick hands for a tackle, and is a standout against the run. He is one of the best overall defensive tackles in the upcoming draft and will definitely be on the Saints radar.
Next on the South team is Sheldon Rankins out of Louisville. He has been slightly under the radar for most, but expect to start hearing his name more after the Senior Bowl. He finished his senior year with 58 tackles. Rankins is pretty athletic for his size (6-foot-1) and is great at bull rushing. One thing that stands out with Rankins is how quick he is. He was making a lot of good offensive linemen look really bad at practice. Also, he has a good motor for a big man. If he keeps his production up, then he might just be getting his name called on the first night of the draft.
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Now, on the North team with
out of Notre Dame. Most scouts have him in the third or fourth round range. He has had multiple injuries in his past, which is a red flag, but if he can stay healthy he would be a good pick. Day also is a bit smaller than most defensive tackles at 285 pounds. Hopefully, he can put on some more muscle going into the combine and that would boost his stock some. He is explosive off the snap and can move laterally pretty well for an interior lineman. He could give the Saints some nice needed depth at the defensive tackle spot if they choose to pick him later in the draft.
Next is one of the most athletic big men in this draft, and that is Vernon Butler out of Louisiana Tech. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 316 pounds, this long armed tackle could be the steal of the draft, but my gut feeling is after the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine that his stock will rise tremendously. He could easily go late in the first round, but if he could somehow wind up in the second round for the Saints it would be a great pick. Having an athletic big man that can shed blocks and get to the quarterback is exactly what the Saints need, and this guy is good at it. I’m anxious to see how well he does against the competition at the Senior Bowl this weekend.
The last defensive tackle to watch is Adolphus Washington out of Ohio State. He is a tall guy standing at 6-foot-4, which is good when needing to knock down a pass. However, it can also hurt a tackle when trying to get leverage on the opposing offensive linemen. Washington will probably be a late round first round pick, but recently got cited for a first-degree misdemeanor and was suspended for Ohio State’s bowl game earlier this month. That will definitely hurt his draft stock, but Washington has all the skills to be a good tackle in the NFL.