Saints Draft Need: Defensive tackle

In the second of a series of articles profiling the New Orleans Saints' 2008 NFL Draft needs, Matthew Postins examines what the Saints have at a key position, who they could draft and what kind of impact that player could have. Also, look for links to stories, video and audio of players the Bucs could draft throughout the article.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

WHAT THE SAINTS HAVE

Brian Young (8 starts), Hollis Thomas (14 starts), Orien Harris, Kendrick Clancy (2 starts), McKinley Boykin, Antwan Lake (7 starts).

WHY THE NEED?

Age is one consideration. Thomas is 34 and Young is 30. The Saints must begin planning for a future without both players, though Young likely has a few good years left in him. Lake is likely part of that future, but entering his sixth season he has just 5.5 career sacks and, more importantly, just 11 career starts. Clancy is 29 and has only become a full-time starter since 2005 (with the Giants) and 2006 (with the Cardinals).

The unit's play last year is the other consideration. It just wasn't very good. The Saints were ranked No. 13 against the run, but were ranked No. 30 overall and part of the reason was its No. 21 ranking in sacks per pass play. The Saints only had 32 sacks, and a dominant presence inside always helps the pass rush. The Saints simply did not have that.

With the No. 10 pick in April, there is an outside chance the Saints could acquire a tackle with the potential to dominate. LSU's Glenn Dorsey and USC's Sedrick Ellis are both considered Top 10 picks and both project as above-average tackles in the NFL. The question is whether either will drop through the first nine selections to tempt the Saints. But if either does, they would be a great selection for a team that is in need of dominant play in the interior.

THE TOP FIVE

Here are the top five defensive tackles in this draft, according to Scout.com:

Glenn Dorsey (6-foot-1 1/2, 313 pounds), LSU — NFL Films producer Greg Cosell says this is one of the best athletic specimens in the draft, regardless of position. He won't fall out of the Top 10.

Sedrick Ellis (6-foot-1, 297 pounds), USC — Deceptively quick and strong at the point of attack, Ellis is another Top 10 pick that may not drop far enough for the Saints to select him.

Kentwan Balmer (6-foot-4, 295 pounds), North Carolina — There is debate about whether Balmer is a first- or second-round pick. What isn't in debate is Balmer's value as perhaps the most versatile tackle in this draft, as most scouts see him as a perfect fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 front.

Marcus Harrison (6-foot-2 ½, 310 pounds), Arkansas — Harrison made a living in the backfield of opposing offenses in the SEC. He's the slowest of the Top 5 tackles in the draft (5.20), so he's likely a situational run stopper who would be a solid second-round pick.

Dre Moore (6-foot-3 ½, 308 pounds), Maryland — Moore is another tackle that fits the run-first mold. His talent and size will likely make him a late second-round or early third-round pick.

GET TO KNOW THEM

Want to know more about these prospects, plus other DTs the Saints could be interested in? Check out the links below.

Check out how North Carolina State DT DeMario Pressley at his pro day last week.

Don't just read about Ellis. Find out what the Trojans defensive tackle had to say on-camera recently about his potential draft status:

Auburn tackle Pat Sims is a second- or third-round prospect that could be a real find for a team in need of help inside. Find out more about Sims during his video clip from the Scouting Combine:

Balmer answers reporters' questions in Indianapolis:


Do you know where the Saints scouts and coaches are during the draft evaluation period? Saintsinsider.com is finding out for you. Catch our latest "Pro Day Rumblings" article by clicking here.


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Matthew Postins is the publisher of Saintsinsider.com. He is an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association.


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