This is the third part of my predictions for the 2009 starting New Orleans Saints defense. This article will be about the front four also known as the defensive line.
The New Orleans Saints use the 4-3 defense. This defense relies on the front four to get pressure on the quarterback and to keep the offensive line off of the linebackers.
The Saints have used this offseason to address depth on the defensive line. This was a necessary task due to many of the injuries that occurred last year in 2008 along the defensive line.The depth added will give the New Orleans Saints a great rotation along the defensive line to keep them fresh.
This article will be a bit different than all my other ones. This one lists the starting defensive lineman and who will be rotated in (as well as who will be rotated on passing downs).
Left End: Charles Grant
Charles Grant is one of the highest paid defensive ends, but has not put up the numbers since getting paid that huge contract. In 2008, Grant got injured halfway through the season, but only recorded 33 tackles 3 sacks and a safety in 2008. Grant could be one of the most dominating defensive ends and could get 10 sacks as he did in both 2003 and 2004.
Behind Grant is defensive end Bobby McCray, who played with us in 2008 and recorded 29 tackles and six sacks in all 16 games of the 2008 season, starting in eight of them. McCray would be used on passing downs and in to rotate with Charles Grant. McCarty has a reputation for being a sack specialist and recorded a career high 10 sacks in 2006 and could beat out Grant for his starting position.
Defensive Tackles: Sedrick Ellis, Kendrick Clancy
Sedrick Ellis was drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Ellis has started 13 games recording 30 tackles and four sacks in his rookie campaign, but missed three due to injury. Sedrick showed a lot of promise in '08 and if he can stay healthy, he can be a dominant defensive tackle and put up better numbers in his sophomore year.
The second defensive tackle position was probably one of the hardest to select. I have to go with Kendrick Clancy to start on my predictions simply because we don't know what the other defensive tackles bring to the table yet. In 14 starts in 2008, Kendrick Clancy recorded 34 tackles and two sacks.
Other Defensive Tackles to watch:
Rod Coleman is another comeback defensive player the Saints have signed along with Dan Morgan, who is coming out of retirement. Coleman spent most of the 2007 season injured but recorded seven tackles and two sacks in just five games. Coleman did not play in 2008 but hopefully he can return to his Pro Bowl-caliber performances. Coleman will be reunited with the New Orleans Saints' new defensive line coach. Coleman's best season in the NFL was with division rival Atlanta Falcons, where he recorded 11.5 sacks with 40 tackles.
Demario Presley is coming off of a injury that did not allow him to play at all in the 2008 season. If Payton did not cut him, he saw something from Presley in training camp, so look for him to make contributions to the Saints defense in 2009.
Right End: Will Smith
Will Smith is one of the most dominant players we have on defense. Many people want to criticize Smith for the season he had last year after receiving a new, expensive contract. Will Smith played through a injury last year, which shows his toughness. In 2009, Will Smith recorded 61 tackles and three sacks. Smith is very well a dominating defensive end in this league and I expect him to deliver in 2009. Smith's best season came in 2006, when he recorded 49 tackles and 10.5 sacks in 2006 in only 14 games.
Paul Spicer will be lining up behind Smith to let him rest. Spicer is a veteran coming out of Jacksonville, coming along with defensive coordinator Greg Williams. Spicer brings great depth to the defensive line and can line up at any position on the defensive line. Spicer recorded 3.5 sacks and 34 tackles in 2008. His best season came in 2005, where he recorded 7.5 sacks and 37 tackles.
In 2009, defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant are facing possible four-game suspensions, so the depth the Saints have added will help the Saints a lot if the suspension goes through. Overall, we have three defensive ends who have recorded 10 sacks or more in their careers, so they have the potential. The defensive tackle position with Sedrick Ellis will be a big question but we have plenty of depth. Expect a lot more pressure on the quarterback from the front four.