Reviewing the Saints defensive ends in 2016

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We will be reviewing the Saints roster as it currently stands leading up to free agency and the draft.  Last week we reviewed the Saints offensive line.  This week it’s the defensive ends.  With all the multiple fronts the Saints run, this group consists of defensive ends or pass rushers.

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Defensive Ends
Cam Jordan
It all starts and ends with Cam.  By far the best player on the defensive front.  While the total sacks have dropped in 2016 to 7.5.  Jordan made it up in pressures, tackles and all and all becoming a disruptive force for the Saints defense.
Another pro bowl snub for the Saints, Jordan was ranked as the 15th best player in the league in 2016 according to Pro Football Focus.  No other Saint ranked higher and only Drew Brees and Michael Thomas made the list.  According to the numbers Cam Jordan posted 79 Quarterback pressures.  Thats the same number that Von Miller had last season.
The fact remains that Cam Jordan played at a level of Khalil Mack and Von Miller throughout the season and that is saying something.  Jordan is also moving up the all time Saints charts for sacks in just six years a pro.  Currently he sits at 46.5 sacks.  But after next season he should be in the top five passing Saints great Frank Warren and close to the late  great Will Smith for fourth all time.
Paul Kruger
Should be a classic case of buyer beware.  Kruger was signed a few years too late to make any immediate impact on the Saints.  Yes, he played.  He’s a veteran, and I can think of a couple of plays here and there that he made.
However there is no reason to keep him around in 2017.  I predict the Saints will take a cap hit on Kruger of $700,000 for the next two seasons and move on.
Darryl Tapp-Free Agent
Here we have an exact opposite of the Kruger signing.  A player who played well in the Saints 4-3 package.  I don’t know if he’ll be back basically because after free agency and the draft he may not be needed for his close to million dollar salary.
It may not work out, but these are the free agent signings Saints fan should look at as opposed to the big money splashes in the past.
Hau’oli Kikaha
The second year pro tore his ACL for a third time in his career and missed the entire 2016 season.  Based off an up and down rookie year much was expected from Kikaha last season. He started the 2015 campaign on fire with four sacks before and ankle injury slowed him down for the second half of the season.
What I liked most about his rookie campaign was his knack for the ball.  Kikaha forced four fumbles to go with those sacks as a rookie.  What I didn’t like was that he was a liability in pass coverage.  It’s clear to me that he’s either best used as a 4-3 defensive end or a situational pass rusher.  Either way the Saints missed him in 2016 and he seems on track for a full recovery.
Kasim Edibale-Restricted Free Agent
Like you, I thought with the absence of Kikaha, this would be the year Edibale shined. Coming off a five sack season in 2015 in a limited role this was my pick for breakout performer.  I wasn’t to be.  Here is where the signing of a veteran can hurt your development.
Paul Kruger is signed, and Edibale can’t get on the field.  Now I’m sure that is not all of it, but to my eye it looked to me after a five sack season that we had found our defensive end opposite Jordan.  Edibale finished with only one sack in 2016 making 2017 a make or break year for him.
Obum Gwacham
There is nothing Saints fans love more then we sign a practice squad player from another team.  In 2015, the Saints did just that claiming Gwacham off Seattle.  He responded with 2.5 sacks in limited playing time.
The excitement was there in 2016, however by late September after the Monday night game versus Atlanta, Gwacham only played seven snaps on special teams and was placed on Injured Reserve after the game.  Where Gwacham falls in the Saints pecking order in 2017 remains to be seen.
Next: Defensive Tackles
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