Saints News

Saints: Five brave predictions for 2017

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Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) (left) greets New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) after the Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 38-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) (left) greets New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) after the Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 38-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (59) hits Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) as he throws during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (59) hits Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) as he throws during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Dannell Ellerbe has the second-most sacks on the team.

Nobody is catching Cam Jordan for the most sacks on this defense. But after the Saints failed to fully address their DE position opposite Jordan, it looks like they’ll rely on OLB Dannell Ellerbe to generate pressure off the edge.

Last season, Ellerbe tied for third-most sacks on the team with 4.0, tied with Sheldon Rankins and behind only Nick Fairley and Jordan. Rankins missed half of the season with a lower-leg injury, so his number should see uptick. But Ellerbe missed even more of the season.

Ellerbe has all the pass-rush talent to be a dangerous EDGE rusher.

But the biggest obstacle in his finishing with the second-most sacks is his health. If he can stay on the field, he can put up big numbers.

The Saints made a series of additions to their linebacker corps. Manti Te’o may not crack the final roster, but A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone are all but locked in to contribute on defense. Stephone Anthony still has a shot at being a force as a SAM, and Craig Robertson played very well in his unexpected role last year. That versatility gives the Saints enough firepower to be multiple with how they make use of the position. Add to that the fact that the Saints should have a dramatically improved secondary and you can see why they’re likely to use Ellerbe’s pass-rushing ability as often as they can.

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