The New Orleans Saints have question marks at the linebacker position and that’s what makes it such an intriguing camp battle for fans. Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus dubbed it as the Saints’ “battle to watch” in his post where he predicted every team’s starting lineup.
Linsey had this to say as to why he picked linebacker:
"Zack Baun was expected to transition from an edge role at Wisconsin to an off-ball linebacker role in the NFL. That didn’t happen in his first season with the Saints. Baun lined up in the box on just nine of his 102 defensive snaps, with the remainder coming in an edge defender alignment.He should receive an opportunity to compete for a starting job in nickel alongside Demario Davis, but New Orleans’ second-round selection Pete Werner could pose a challenge. Werner has NFL size and athleticism, and it’s not nearly as difficult to project his role as it was for Baun after Werner’s three years at Ohio State."
The New Orleans Saints’ linebacker battle is one to keep an eye on.
It was a bit surprising that quarterback wasn’t the position battle to watch considering it’s the first time Drew Brees hasn’t been the Saints’ Week 1 starter since 2005. The consensus seems to be that Jameis Winston will be named the starter for the Saints’ Week 1 game against Green Bay and that’s who Linsey went with in his projections.
Anyway, back to the linebacker battle.
The Saints spent a third-round pick on Baun last year and his first year in the league was disappointing, as he started just three games and had only 12 tackles. Drafting Pete Werner out of Ohio State in the second round was proof that the Saints didn’t fully believe in Baun moving forward or that, at the very least, they wanted to have competition and not just hand the job to Baun.
While Baun has been with the organization longer, if Werner steps in and impresses right out of the gate, the starting job could be his. The Saints are fortunate to have one really good linebacker in Demario Davis but they need the other option to pull his weight.
You can check out the rest of Linsey’s projections in the link at the beginning of the article but there really aren’t a ton of shockers there. Werner beating out Baun wouldn’t really surprise Saints fans but they’re definitely hoping that the former third-round pick can improve mightily this year.