The New Orleans Saints shocked a fair amount of mock-drafters out there when they took Kenny Vaccaro with the 14th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. While Vaccaro was probably the second-most expected selection in most circles and certainly fit a need at the safety position, the Saints were widely mocked to look at a highly-lauded class of edge rushers with their early pick. Throw in the fact that Barkevious Mingo fit just what they needed and attended college at nearby LSU and it seemed pretty much a slam dunk.
Fast-forward a couple months, and Mingo is in Cleveland while the Saints search for more answers at outside linebacker in their move to the 3-4 base defense under Rob Ryan. Victor Butler was signed in free agency and served as a hope to jump-start a poor pass-rushing unit that for years heavily relied on safety Roman Harper(!) to generate quarterback pressure. But now Butler’s season is essentially done already in camp due to injury, and New Orleans must look to Junior Galette, Will Smith and Martez Wilson to attack from the outside backer spot.
I like Galette and personally think Smith would be a disaster at 3-4 outside backer, as I’ve written about often in recent years, but think Wilson in particular has a chance to fortify this unit strongside along with Galette on weakside. The 2011 third-round pick only has four career sacks for the Saints but has experience at both 4-3 outside backer and defensive end in the pros, largely in pass-rushing scenarios.
This type of versatility could serve him well in his latest role at 3-4 strongside backer, and Wilson already looks a fit for the position at Saints training camp.
“I definitely think so, because now I will be standing up,” Wilson said, via The New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I will feel more comfortable. I have been standing up my whole career. I’ll be able to read and react faster. I know I’ll be able to use my athleticism and be all over the field at different positions.”