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Saints coach Sean Payton says team considers pass rusher as premium position

Marcus Davenport, Sean Payton, Saints

The New Orleans Saints made a splash in the 2018 NFL Draft by trading up to take former UT San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport with the 14th overall pick. However, it came at a heavy cost after they had to give up a fifth-rounder and next year’s first-rounder in order to do so.

Although it may seem like a steep price to pay, head coach Sean Payton was happy to make a move. The reason being is that he feels that pass-rushers are one of the most key positions in the NFL, via the team’s official website.

“One of the offseason targets was a pressure player and that might come as a guy who lines up inside, it might come from a player that lines up outside,” Payton said. “But before we check that box we have to feel like he can affect the quarterback and in our league, there’s a premium on a few different positions, one of them is that, one of them is a corner. We saw the quarterbacks and the tackles. We can’t find those guys when the season is over with and we start free agency. They’re generally players you have to draft.”

Payton’s comments are indicative of how the rest of the NFL approaches building their roster. Given today’s pass-heavy nature of the league, having a legitimate franchise quarterback is the first item on every team’s list. That said, it only makes sense that the next best asset would be to find a player that can disrupt an offense’s aerial attack. As a result, defensive lineman and outside linebackers are currently the highest-paid non-QBs in the NFL.

New Orleans is hoping that Davenport can serve as a nice compliment to defensive end Cameron Jordan. He certainly showed flashes of that ability during his senior year when he registered 17.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 11 games.