We can debate whether the New Orleans Saints should trade for Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler until we're blue in the face. There's no debating whether the Saints should draft an edge rusher. Taking a defensive end/outside linebacker/edge guy will be imperative for the Saints in Day 1 and/or Day 2 of this week's NFL Draft. We might be able to debate which pass rusher you prefer, but there's no arguing the Saints will select someone they yearn to affect the opposing quarterback. Tennessee's Derek Barnett at No. 11 would fit the Saints as perfectly as taking defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins at No. 12 overall in last year's draft. Barnett would fill an immediate need for the Saints with the clearest of visions. Only unexpected drops from players assumed to be taken in the top 10 would spur me to change my mind on Barnett. The 6-foot-3, 259-pounder should enter the league as a three-down defensive end. Numerous draft pundits laud Barnett for his ability to stop the run and corral quarterbacks despite lacking freakish athletic prowess. His production in college also speaks loudly with three seasons of 10-plus sacks. That's no fluke, especially in the SEC. In 2016, Barnett picked up at least one of his 13 total sacks in every Tennessee conference game and in the team's bowl game against Nebraska. He didn't load up on inferior opponents like Appalachian State, Ohio or Tennessee Tech. Now that I've convinced myself the Saints must draft Barnett, where would they turn if Barnett hops off the board before No. 11 overall?
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett would be perfect for the Saints at No. 11
New Orleans Times-Picayune | Apr 25