Why the Saints could have the best edge rushing rotation in the NFL

New Orleans Saints training camp preview

By: Jeremy Trottier

The New Orleans Saints have had a relatively interesting offseason, between clearing cap space by cutting players, to extending Ryan Ramczyk, to their draft prospects.  With that said, one of the positions on the defense that is most solidified right now is defensive end, between Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and Payton Turner as the top rotation.  In this article, I will be going over each of these three players, as we could see a duo of any mix of them, as well as what they contribute to this unit as a whole.

Cam Jordan

The veteran of the group, Cam Jordan, is going into his 11th season of his career, and has not had a season of under 7.5 sacks since his rookie year.  Despite having a relatively quiet year last season on the stat sheet, his productivity as a player cannot be understated, as he caused a lot of QB pressures, hurries, and hits.  He had 16 QB hits, 26 pressures, and 8 QB knockdowns.  He also took some of the pressure off Trey Hendrickson, as he would often take on two offensive linemen at once which freed up the rest of the line to provide pressure.

Cam Jordan will be vital in teaching the other two edge rushers we are looking at in the article today, as he has a huge deal of experience in the league.  He also says he is feeling, “more rejuvenated than ever” ahead of the 2021-2022 season, which is a huge deal as his mentality is another thing he brings to the roster.  He is the “hype man” of the front four for New Orleans and having him believing in himself that he is the best he has ever been is great news. 

Payton Turner

The Saints 2021 first round pick from Houston, Payton Turner, is one of the more interesting prospects from this draft class.  He fits exactly what the Saints are looking for with players, fantastic physical profile who can produce at multiple positions, hence why they drafted him so early.  At 6’6” 268 pounds, with an 83 inch wingspan and 10.5 inch hands, he has a very good frame for the Saints to build off of, and teach him the nuances of NFL level defensive line.  

One of the most impressive things to note is Payton Turner outperformed himself statistically in 2020 in a lot of categories…but Houston only played less than half the games they normally do due to Covid (five games).  He had 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, a forced fumble, and 25 total tackles.  This is an absolutely phenomenal statline for so few games played, and shows Turner has the capability to produce due to his athletic traits.

Marcus Davenport

Another Saints first round pick, but in 2018, we wrap the list up with Marcus Davenport.  Another DE with a fantastic frame at 6’6” 265 pounds, and is still only 24 years of age, 25 by the start of the 2021-2022 season.  The main issue Davenport has to date is injuries, it seems like every time he really starts to produce he goes down and we do not see him again for awhile.  Just to list off his injuries since his draft year, here they are:

  • 2018 – Thumb fracture, had surgery prior to season, no games missed
  • 2018 – Toe sprain on right foot, 3 games missed
  • 2019 – Foot fracture (Lisfranc fracture), season ending surgery after week 14
  • 2020 – Elbow bruising, missed three games and practices prior to season
  • 2020 – Pedal toe sprain – missed week 4 

However, when he is not injured he has been an absolute monster in the games he started.  In 2019 when he started 13 games, he had 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 16 QB hits, 17 pressures, 6 QB knockdowns, and 9 hurries.  If he starts this season or even splits with Payton Turner, and if he stays healthy, he will most definitely contribute to this front-seven without a doubt.  

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