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Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher BY JOSH KATZENSTEIN jkatzenstein@nola.com , NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune The New Orleans Saints entered this offseason seeking ways to help their pass rush. Besides ...

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Old 06-29-2017, 07:48 AM   #1
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Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

BY JOSH KATZENSTEIN jkatzenstein@nola.com,
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
The New Orleans Saints entered this offseason seeking ways to help their pass rush.

Besides Cameron Jordan, the Saints have not had another defensive end consistently create consistent pressure the past two seasons, and the results were a ranking of 27th in sacks in 2016 and tied for 25th in 2015.

While many fans hoped the Saints would spend more on a play-making edge rusher, the top free-agent acquisition at the position was Alex Okafor, who experienced ups and downs during his four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

Okafor was a relatively cheap addition as he signed a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, but based on a film review of his play the last three years, the 26-year-old should be able to upgrade the Saints' pass rush.

Okafor isn't an elite pass rusher, so don't set expectations too high. His inconsistencies in 2015 are a key reason the Cardinals traded for Chandler Jones in the 2016 offseason, which forced Okafor into a backup role last year.

However, Okafor's performance as a reserve was still significantly better than the Saints received from starter Paul Kruger last year, so it's reasonable to expect Okafor to improve the defense to some extent. Of course, the Saints will also hope for some production from rookies Trey Hendrickson and Al-Quadin Muhammad as well as Darryl Tapp and Hau'oli Kikaha as they strive to put more consistent pressure on the quarterback.

One key reason to expect Okafor to be better than Kruger is that he's at a much better stage of his career. At just 26, Okafor should have more upside -- especially considering he played through injuries the past two years. Kruger signed with New Orleans at 30 last year and was already declining.

Okafor had 3.5 sacks last year playing just 230 defensive snaps, averaging 15 snaps per game. Comparatively, Kruger had just 1.5 sacks playing 569 snaps, averaging 38 snaps per game.

There wasn't anything particularly impressive about Okafor's sacks from last year as all came against subpar offensive linemen, but his play over last three years showed a few ways he can help the Saints.

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Old 06-29-2017, 08:12 AM   #2
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

If healthy, I think he will be a huge upgrade over Kruger. We desperately need a guy who can "set the edge" vs the run.

Okafor is my X factor on defense. Can't wait for training camp.
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Old 06-29-2017, 08:24 AM   #3
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

This is another reason why I feel the D-Line will be greatly improved over what we fielded last season, even with the loss of Fairley.
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Old 06-29-2017, 08:54 AM   #4
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

Idk. I think we'll see improvement but I'm still worried about this line w/o Fairley. I think he was pretty important.

My expectations are lower now and my excitement is a little dimmer. Hope to see someone in TC that looks like a difference maker.
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Old 06-29-2017, 09:06 AM   #5
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

Originally Posted by jnormand View Post
Idk. I think we'll see improvement but I'm still worried about this line w/o Fairley. I think he was pretty important.

My expectations are lower now and my excitement is a little dimmer. Hope to see someone in TC that looks like a difference maker.
Yes. I would definitely rather have Fairley in there, but having Rankins for a full year with an additional year of development and with Okafor and a further developing Onyemata I still expect a much better overall line than we had last season. Losing Fairley was a "blow", but I just don't see it as devastating by any means.
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Old 06-29-2017, 09:24 AM   #6
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

Originally Posted by jnormand View Post
Idk. I think we'll see improvement but I'm still worried about this line w/o Fairley. I think he was pretty important.
Yep. I thought the rotation going into camp was above average. Now it's just average (on paper) w/o NF. McDaniel should help but he is no Nick Fairley in terms of pressure. Rankins/Onyemata must take huge steps forward this season. I'm curious to see what Kendricks will do in camp.

Edit: I didn't realize Okafor was only 26. For some reason I thought he had been in the league a lot longer.
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Old 06-29-2017, 09:39 AM   #7
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

Originally Posted by K Major View Post
Yep. I thought the rotation going into camp was above average. Now it's just average (on paper) w/o NF. McDaniel should help but he is no Nick Fairley in terms of pressure. Rankins/Onyemata must take huge steps forward this season. I'm curious to see what Kendricks will do in camp.

Edit: I didn't realize Okafor was only 26. For some reason I thought he had been in the league a lot longer.
Nope. Still young. He was just the odd man out on a very talented Arizona line.
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Old 06-29-2017, 02:28 PM   #8
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

yada yada yada 34 outside LB back to his natural 43 DE is the real statement that is about to get answered.
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Old 06-29-2017, 03:06 PM   #9
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

Okafor and Klein could be key additions this off season.
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Old 06-29-2017, 03:35 PM   #10
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Re: Film review: Alex Okafor should be upgrade for Saints even if he's not elite pass rusher

Most importantly, he doesn't even need to make the sack, just create enough pressure to make the QB uncomfortable in the pocket to make him move. That will open opportunities for the rest of the D-line.
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