Each NFL season, every team has a player that bears a little added attention. So which performer could turn the corner for the New Orleans Saints in ’17?
Welcome to yet another 32-team series from End Zone Score. In recent months, we took the time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers.
Every NFL season features players that come into their own after a slow start to their careers. It’s tough to tell when each performer’s coming-put party will take place. Some are immediate successes. Others take longer due to numerous circumstances, but they prove to be worth the wait. Here we will try and pinpoint a player from each team in the league that we feel is on the verge of putting it altogether.
DE Alex Okafor
We could wax poetically about the disaster that has been the New Orleans Saints defensive unit for the majority of this decade. From allowing the most total yards in one season in NFL history in 2012. To surrendering a league-record 45 touchdown passes in 2015. This past season, Sean Payton’s club allowed the most passing yards in the league.
You can bet this unit, which made some strides in 2016, wasn’t ignored this offseason. During April’s draft, the Saints used five of their seven selections on this side of the football. In free agency, the team added linebackers A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel was recently signed as insurance for Nick Fairley, whose football career could be in doubt due to a medical issue.
But keep an eye on defensive end Alex Okafor. In four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, he had his ups and downs for a variety of reasons. However, there was 2014 in which he played in 13 games, totaled eight sacks, knocked down three passes and picked off one pass.
Now the 2013 fourth-round pick from the University of Texas moves from outside linebacker in the 3-4 to defensive end opposite Cameron Jordan. Add Fairley (if healthy) and fellow defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins and the New Orleans Saints have the makings of a formidable front. It’s a unit that should be more than capable of topping the team’s disappointing total of 30 sacks this past season. And Alex Okafor could be very well be leading the team in this category by year’s end.