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New Orleans Saints: Analyzing the 2021 NFL Draft by position

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 05: Caleb Farley #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrates with teammates against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 05: Caleb Farley #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrates with teammates against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Interior Defensive Line

Long-Term Need at Position: Medium

It’s important to have a healthy amount of defensive line depth, and outside of David Onyemata, the Saints don’t have a lot of options on the interior defensive line. However, do keep in mind that this position is generally at the bottom of the spectrum from a positional value standpoint, meaning that it’s far from a red flag for them.

First Round Value

  • Christian Barmore, Alabama (Rank: 14)

Christian Barmore wasn’t a full-time starter at Alabama, but his overall efficiency both as a pass rusher and run defender was mightily impressive. Production-based evaluations will be much higher on him, though, so perhaps he could be available for the Saints.

If so, he’d be an incredibly strong value.

Other Options

  • Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (Rank: 46)
  • Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech (Rank: 52)
  • Alim McNeil, NC State (Rank: 70)
  • Marvin Wilson, Florida State (Rank: 75)
  • Osa Odighizuwa (Rank: 96)
  • Khyrisis Tonga, BYU (Rank: 151)
  • Malik Herring, Georgia (Rank: 152)
  • Mustafa Johnson, Colorado (Rank: 164)

There are potential options for the Saints on the interior defensive line at every stage of the draft, despite it being seen as an overall weak class.

Of this group, the most intriguing one would be Williams, who is an absurd athlete with the college production to go along with it, though Wilson is an intriguing buy-low option with multiple high-end years that preceded a poor 2020, which could have been affected by all the uniqueness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buyer Beware

  • Daviyon Nixon, Iowa (Rank: 105)
  • Jay Tufele, USC (Rank: 138)

Generally, if an interior defensive lineman didn’t perform in college, he shouldn’t be expected to do so in the NFL, given the overall stability of statistical measures at the position. Based on where these two players could be selected, that sentiment would make them potential “buyer bewares”.

Overview

I would expect the Saints to draft an interior defensive lineman at some point given their draft tendencies.

Barmore would be an intriguing first-round pick, though the player I keep coming back to is Williams, who’d form quite the pass-rush tandem with Onyemata, though a player like Alim McNeil would complement Oneymata better potentially as a true nose tackle.

Regardless, there are enough interesting options for them not to have to reach for a player at the position.

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