Kenny Vaccaro- For the New Orleans Saints defense to see major improvement, Vaccaro will have to have a Darren Sharper like impact. In the Saints super bowl run, the defense was less than perfect, but it was okay because Sharper on the back end erased so many mistakes with his playmaking abilities. The Saints have not been able to properly replace Sharper since his retirement and are hoping Vaccaro can be that guy. Rob Ryan’s aggressive scheme will call for Vaccaro to man up slot receivers and tight ends, be an enforcer in the run game, and cover up the back end in some single high sets. Despite his rookie status, Vaccaro will have to grow up very quickly.
Cam Jordan–The outside linebacker positions are in flux. If there is no pass rush generated from that position, Jordan will have to fill that void. Jordan is only Saint to have shown pass rush ability, recording 8 sacks last year. What was especially impressive about that number is the fact that he was playing the 4-3, which isn’t his natural scheme; Jordan played in the 3-4 in his four years at Cal. Jordan will headline a 3 man front that expects to be one of the better position groups on the defense featuring guys like Akiem Hicks, Broderick Bunkley, and rookie John Jenkins.
Martez Wilson–Wilson figures to be starting at the weak side linebacker spot. Wilson is possibly the most athletically gifted player on the defense the Saints will need every ounce of that this season. With the injury to Victor Butler, the pressure will be on Wilson is make consistent plays from the outside. And he certainly has shown the ability. In his senior season, he recorded over 100 tackles and forced 3 fumbles. However, he will have to do better than the meager 4 sacks he recorded. Though all of the Saints’ pass rushing options are questionable at best, Wilson has the best chance to emerge as a top play maker because of his raw, athletic ability.