This is an important part of the offseason: the scouting. The New Orleans Saints and the rest of the NFL will be paying close attention to the 2013 Senior Bowl on January 26, evaluating college players that will be making the jump to the pros this Spring.
The Saints have finally put the 2012 season, and the bounty saga behind them. They can turn the page, start fresh. Now, they have their work cut out for them. They have a lot to fix. Mainly, they have to fix their atrocious defense.
With the Senior Bowl this season, can the Saints pick out a diamond in the rough from the pool of players trying to get into the NFL?
Let's take a look at some players that will participate in the Senior Bowl that will be able to help the Saints in the areas they need help in.
The New Orleans Saints had trouble generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks, so they will be looking to add some talented defensive ends.
Alex Okafor, the 6'4", 265-pound defensive end out of Texas isn't too big, but he is strong and has a lot of speed. With his athleticism, he is capable of playing the 4-3 or 3-4 (which the Saints just switched over to) defense.
He has a huge burst off the snap, and has good timing and solid technique with his hands.
Adding Okafor to the mix may help the Saints with their pass-rushing problems.
The New Orleans Saints' offensive line wasn't terrible in 2012, but it did have its hiccups. Take into consideration the free agency market, and the Saints may lose a lineman or two.
Oklahoma Sooners lineman, Lane Johnson, should be scouted.
Johnson is an athletic and smart tackle that has great foot work. He mirrors defenders well and has the strength to anchor at the line of scrimmage in pass protection.
He is good in pass coverage, and has the size and speed to be effective in run blocking. Johnson is also versatile, having played both left and right tackle during his career in Oklahoma. Of course, he still has some work to do to improve his game and he has to get stronger, but Johnson has a lot of talent and potential to be a starting left tackle.
The New Orleans Saints cornerbacks were getting burned up and down the field for most of the season. The team broke the record for most yards allowed in the season, not something to be proud of.
With that being said, the Saints definitely need help in the secondary.
The 6'1" cornerback from Washington is good in pass coverage, and emerged as one of the better cornerbacks in the Pac-12, and that's why most opposing teams stayed away from him when throwing the ball.
Trufant has a nose for the ball and is good at breaking up pass plays, but needs to get some more takeaways. He has the size, awareness, speed and agility to do well in man coverage. Something the Saints desperately need help in.
The massive 6'8", 305-pound lineman from Central Michigan, Eric Fisher, would be a nice fit for the New Orleans Saints, who may be looking to fill in spots on the offensive line.
The lineman excels in pass-blocking. He has good technique and has long arms, which are useful when pushing defenders away from him.
Fisher showed good footwork, and is active with his hands, which is needed for both pass-bockig and run-blocking. The tackle is athletic, but still needs some work on his strength. But that shouldn't be too much of a concern.
The safety's alma mater, Florida International, isn't impressive, and doesn't help a draft stock. But what does help Jonathan Cypriens is his skill set. He can tackle—an area the New Orleans Saints definitely need help in—and he is good in pass coverage.
The safety has good speed, and quick hands. According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, Cyprien has impressed in practice with his hard work, and has impressed with his coverage skills.
At 6'3" and 351 pounds, the Georgia defensive tackle is massive. He takes up a lot of space, which commands the attention of multiple blockers.
Jenkins is strong enough to push through the middle and collapse the pocket. He has the skill to be a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme, which the New Orleans Saints have recently switched to. He is better against the run, as he can take up a few gaps with his size, but needs to improve in the pass-rush.
The tackle has a good motor and can keep coming while wearing down offensive linemen, but he is known to be inconsistent. With some proper coaching, that can be fixed.