Saints rookie will help make up for loss of Galette
One of the bigger stories in the NFL last week was the Saints’ release of edge rusher Junior Galette, not even a year after signing him to a four-year, $41.5 million contract extension.
Galette’s off-field issues clearly played a major part in the decision, but it’s a move that has major on-field ramifications as well. The good news for Saints fans is that they have a potential breakout player next in line in the form of second-round draft pick Hau’Oli Kikaha.
Kikaha was a dominant pass-rusher for the Washington Huskies, ranking third among draft-eligible 3-4 outside linebackers in our pass-rushing productivity metric. He’ll have to adjust to playing a higher level of competition, and the fact that one of his worst outings last season came against fellow Saints rookie Andrus Peat (a first-round pick out of Stanford) is a concern, but we think he can have an early impact as a rookie, even if he is used almost exclusively as an edge rusher.
The Saints could use him similar to the way the Ravens use Elvis Dumervil. Baltimore had Dumervil on the field for 56.5 percent of its defensive snaps, with 66.6 percent of those snaps coming as a pass-rusher. That would give him fewer overall snaps than Galette had, but a higher percentage of pass-rushing snaps.
Regardless of how he’s used, Kikaha’s ability to contribute in Year 1 just become a lot more important.