The New Orleans Saints are in the same boat they've been in for a few years now.
Their offense, lead by Drew Brees, is as explosive as you can get in the NFL. The defense, however, is lackluster and full of underachievers, but there are many reasons to be excited about the 2009 season if you're a Saints fan.
New Orleans had a solid draft in 2008, which should pay dividends this season. Sedrick Ellis had a great rookie campaign while starting 13 games and recording 4 sacks in 2008. Tracy Porter, meanwhile, showed a lot of promise before an injury ended his season in Week 5 against the Vikings.
Lastly, defensive tackle, DeMario Pressley of N.C. State, will begin his rookie season a year late after getting injured prior to the start of the regular season. These three players will be a huge part of a defense that needs to make some noise in 2009.
Soon after the regular season ended, the Saints went out and hired Gregg Williams from Jacksonville as their defensive coordinator. Williams is considered one of the most respected defensive minds in the NFL. He works well with a 4-3 defense, which is what New Orleans runs.
Being aggressive and putting a lot of pressure on the opposing quarterback is what Williams will look to improve in New Orleans.
The Saints don’t have much cap room to play with, so nothing big was expected to come out of free agency this year. The team, however, made sure to address the needs of their own free agents.
Re-signing Jonathan Vilma was their first priority, and they did just that by giving him a five-year deal worth $34 million.
They also re-signed starting LT Jon Stinchcomb and speedy receiver Devery Henderson.
Look for them to re-sign guard Jahri Evans, OT Zach Strief, DT Antwan Lake, and WR Lance Moore who led the team in receptions (79), receiving yards (928), and TDs (10).
Lack of cap space in New Orleans has forced the team to part ways with David Patten and fan favorite, Deuce McAllister. McAllister became the Saints all-time touchdowns leader last season, but age, injuries, and large salary have ended his tenure in New Orleans.
The Saints will be looking to trim a little more fat off their payroll, and players such as Aaron Stecker, Martin Gramatica, Josh Bullocks, and Aaron Glenn will mostly likely be done in the Bayou.
The NFL Draft is where New Orleans will look to find the missing piece to their secondary. They only have two picks in the first five rounds due to the trades last season involving Jonathan Vilma from the Jets and Jeremy Shockey from the Giants.
In the first round, the Saints hold the 14th overall selection. New Orleans should be looking for a player who would be able to make an impact from Day One.
Malcolm Jenkins, a solid corner from Ohio State, would be the ideal pick, but might not fall that far. He had a slow 40-yard dash at the combine, but is still considered the best overall CB in this year’s draft.
Cb Vontae Davis from Illinois would be the next logical choice for New Orleans, and there is no doubt of his availability at No. 14.
Either of these players will provide depth and youth at New Orleans' weakest position.
New Orleans has been smart thus far this offseason, with the hiring of Gregg Williams and the re-signing of key players.
If the draft goes well, and players progress as they should during training camp, the Saints may just have enough on defense this year to finally keep them as competitive as their offense does.