There are too many variables at this point, but I do think we'll see improvement in the secondary and on the line. The biggest question mark for me on the defense is our OLBs. This is the most important position of a 3-4 defense, and yet the most experienced guy that we have is Victor Butler @ a 1 year deal.
We have a lot of theoretical guys that could do well as OLBs in the 3-4. I think any Saints fan that isn't in the least bit concerned about the OLB position going into next season is drunk on the Kool-Aid. Defensive Tackle:
Improvement. Bunkley will likely excel in this position, and Hicks can be a good hybrid DT/DE. John Jenkins will probably be that eventual starting NT, but he'll need time to acclimate. They key to NT is try to eat up two blockers, a center and a guard on the interior. If one of them can do that we are in good shape. Defensive End:
Improvement. The scheme switch alone will mean that the pressure of getting to the QB will not be squarely on their shoulders, unlike in the Spags scheme. They switch to more containment defense. Cam Jordan will be the biggest benefactor of this change. Also look for Galette to be used in this role, he might do pretty well in it. He's great at moving laterally and will be effective at containing the run and applying some pressure to the QB. Middle LB/ILB:
No change, possible deficiency. Lofton is a standout player at MLB in the 4-3, but how he acclimates to the switch to ILB will be a major question mark. I think he will do pretty well, he's just a great player. The other major question is the second ILB. Will it be Chamberlain, Hawthorn, or Vilma? Outside LB:
Frighteningly vulnerable. Going into this off-season after CSP announced the switch to a 3-4, my biggest concern was who would run it and who would we get at OLB. We have a couple of players that fit the role of a 3-4, pass rushing OLB position, thanks to Gregg Williams desire to nab any player that could rip a QBs head off.
But a lot of these OLB roster spots will be filled with un-vetted players at this position. I think the Victor Butler signing was great because it gave us some redundancy, but I thought for sure this draft would allow us to pick up our future franchise OLB. I understand that there was a gamble to made this offseason - either they draft the best available OLB and did their best later in the draft in the secondary, or they did what they did this year, gamble on the OLB. It's risky, but hey I trust them. Cornerbacks:
Improvement. We'll see the biggest improvement here. Keenan Lewis was a great signing, I think he and Greer will be an excellent tandem this year and possibly next year (depending on Greer). I think Malcolm Jenkins comes back as CB this year and will probably be the primary nickelback. Robinson will probably be backup for Greer/Lewis. Safety:
Improvement. I think Jenkins goes back to CB and Vaccaro takes the starting FS gig. Roman Harper will probably come in on running situations and goal line plays. They might use Bush or Quddus as the second safety in most passing situations. I think Harper will improve this year, just due to the nature of the strong safety in the 3-4.
This post was edited on 4/30 at 5:14 pm