This ranking from Pro Football Focus missed the mark, with no mention of the rookie defensive linemen the New Orleans Saints just drafted in the first and second rounds. Despite having set out to rank every defensive line around the league, PFF’s Zoltan Buday only made note of the Saints’ projected starting end players while ranking the unit fourth-worst in the league:
Edge defender Carl Granderson enjoyed a breakout season in 2022, and his emergence meant that veteran Cameron Jordan was not the highest-graded defensive lineman on the Saints for the first time in years.
Nevertheless, while Granderson’s emergence is a promising sign, Jordan’s age and potential decline, together with the lack of starting-caliber players in the middle of the line, are causes for concern for Saints fans.
Granderson has made progress year over year, but he’s still closer to being a rotational pass rusher rather than an every-down starter. And what’s with the overlooking of both Bryan Bresee and Isaiah Foskey?
It’s true that the Saints defensive line got pushed around last year. That’s why they let so many players walk away in free agency: mainstays like David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle among them.
New Orleans hasn’t cashed in with the 2021 first-round pick they invested in Payton Turner, either, who has been limited to just 13 games through his first two seasons (only partly due to injury; he ended the 2022 season as a healthy scratch).
So some skepticism is warranted. And it’s probably wise to look at Bresee and Foskey as unknown quantities. It’s unclear what roles they’ll have right out of the gate and how impactful they’ll be in their first year in the NFL. But to ignore them altogether feels like an oversight, not to mention the additions the Saints made along the interior in free agency, having signed veterans Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders to replace Onyemata and Tuttle.
If the group can be at least as effective as they were last year, great — but…