Two high-risk, high-reward players could turn things around for the New Orleans Saints.
Free agency in the NFL has begun, and it’s already wild. Tony Romo is about to be traded, the 49ers landed Marquise Goodwin, Malcolm Smith, and a few other stout players. With Desean Jackson teaming up with Mike Evans and James Winston in Tampa Bay, the Saints’ NFC South foe looks much more explosive on offense. Luckily, there are a few different ways to combat that for the New Orleans Saints.
The first way is free agency, an outlet the Saints have already taken advantage of. So far, the team has signed WR Ted Ginn, Jr., G Larry Warford, LB AJ Klein, and re-signed DT Nick Fairley. However, there still haven’t been moves to bolster up the secondary, which has been historically poor for the Saints the last 4-6 seasons. That’s why free agency is so difficult to rebuild a team with. Players can come off the market so quickly, and teams only have so much money to put towards signing key needs.
That’s where the NFL draft comes in. Teams select young players out of college, sign them to much cheaper contracts, and help them potentially develop into great pieces for a Super Bowl run.
Referenced in my previous article, the Saints should and can utilize both outlets to improve their defense. Signing Klein and keeping Fairley are just the first couple of steps, but, again, the secondary needs to be adjusted. That’s where a former Heisman Trophy candidate hybrid and former All-Pro cornerback enter the picture.
The case for Jabrill Peppers
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Even the most casual college football fans know about Jabrill Peppers. The 6′ 1″ 205-pound linebacker-defensive back hybrid out of the University of Michigan was honored with the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year Award last season. His 72 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and tenacious defense both in the box and in coverage helped win him that award.
Peppers is also a great return man. That, and his very fast 4.46 40-yard dash at this years NFL Combine, adds to his draft value. The New Orleans’ staff can help Peppers find a solidified role, which will most likely be a nickel defensive back. His speed, hunger, and athleticism will aid the team in the pass and rush game along with special teams play. Peppers may not be worth the 11th overall pick. But if he slips into the second round, New Orleans should trade up to select the defensive back from Michigan. He would be a steal at that point in the draft.
The case for Darrelle Revis
Once regarded (very recently, actually) as the best cornerback in the NFL, Darrelle Revis has suffered some set backs. The 2016-17 season saw Revis give up the highest passer rating against opposing quarterbacks for any cornerback in the league. In other words, he was the worst defensive back in the NFL a season ago. Couple that with Revis being released by the New York Jets after being charged with 4 counts of assault this offseason.
Neither of those incidents take away from what Revis has done in his career, however. The was the 14th overall pick in 2007 has gone to 7 Pro Bowls and has been named an All-Pro 4 times, most for any cornerback since he’s come into the league. Revis rose to prominence with the Jets, and won a Super Bowl XLIX with the New England Patriots. His veteran leadership and winning mentality will help young players on, and mainly off, the field.
The risk with Peppers is his size and uncertainty. The risk with Revis is his decline in production and recent off-the-field trouble. However, their potential reward to the team cannot be ignored.
Not only would bringing in both players improve the air defense, the two as a duo have the potential to be deadly. The combination of a lock-down corner and an athletic nickel will give this Saints defense a whole new dimension. New Orleans has the picks and the pocket money to make it happen. Let’s hope Who Dat Nation gets an early Christmas gift.