Victor Butler Screws With Draftniks
12 Posted on March 28th, 2013 by Himself
Since the Saints got the outside linebacker they needed in free agency, what position will they target in the first round of the draft? Outside linebacker? Ummmmm...no. Don't think so.
Quick Out, March 28, 2013
The Saints have finally tracked down and captured Victor Butler.
This signing brings to the fore two questions. One of them, of course, is “Will Victor Butler really bring all that much to the Saints’ pass rush?” Of course, that remains to be seen. Well, actually, so does the other one, but it won’t remain unseen quite so long, and it’s fascinating in its own right.
“What does this signing mean for the Saints’ draft plans?” Consider this: in its linebacking corps, New Orleans now has Jonathan Vilma and Curtis Lofton in the middle. David Hawthorne and Will Herring can perform as backups to the starters—Hawthorne may even start over Vilma. On the outside, they now have Butler, along with Martez Wilson and Junior Galette, and Hawthorne can perform as an outside linebacker as well. [Edit: not to mention Chris Chamberlain, whom I forgot all about in the original post.]
Do we really need a top pass rusher in the draft anymore?
And if we do take, say, Jarvis Jones, who sits? Will our starting outside linebackers be Jones and Wilson, in which case big free agent signing Victor Butler rides him some more pine? Or will it be Jones and Butler, in which case Martez gets relegated to “bust” status without much of a chance. Or do we make our top draft choice languish on the bench?
I just can’t see this being a smart strategy. It seems to me that the Saints have been trying as best they can to plug the linebacking corps through free agency both this year and last; and now, in theory at least, they have a pretty good one. Butler, Wilson, Hawthorne, and Lofton looks damned strong on paper, and shame (and woe) unto any coach who can’t turn that lineup into a winning one.
What remains? The single most critical position for a 3-4 defense: a true nose tackle. If you look through mock drafts, not many of them have the most highly-touted, Star Lotulelei, available at 15. But both Johnathan Hankins and John Jenkins are graded as potential first-rounders, and they’re usually there. What’s more, this is complicated by the fact that the Saints don’t have a second-rounder. They could probably risk taking someone else in the first round, trusting in one of the top prospects to fall to them 32 spots later. But they can’t wait 60 spots—which is their actual next pick, in the third.
If they want the best nose tackle available, they’ll have to take him in the first. If they think they can get by with what they have, or with one of the lower-rated tackles available in the draft, then their first round is now wide open.
But the chance that that pick will be a rush linebacker may have just flown the coop.