With under three months to go until the San Diego Chargers take on the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium, in the second regular season NFL game to take place in Europe, I felt now is a good time to look at the prospects of the Saints and the Chargers first round 2008 rookie picks.
Both teams sensibly went for defensive upgrades in areas of need – all goos so far, so lets look in some more detail;
Saints – Pick Number 7 overall – Selection – Sedrick Ellis – Defensive Tackle – College – USC Trojans – Contract status – 5 year contract signed – 6ft 1 – 307lbs – Shirt #98
Lawrence Vos’s Position analysis
Ellis comes into a Saints defensive that was 13th overall in the NFL against the run in 2007, but its the pass defense that was awful last season finishing 30th out of 32 teams, giving up a league worst 7.9 yards a pass. The defensive tackles clogging up the running lanes for the Saints in 07 included old warhorse Hollis Thomas (5o tackles and 3 sacks), Brian Young (who made just 18 tackles in 8 starts) and Antwan Lake (whoooo ? – well he started 7 games and had 18 tackles). Not exactly an all-star lineup you must agree. Ellis will be an immediate upgrade and will be pushing to get in the starting lineup from the opening snap of pre-season. Ellis was a monster at USC in 07, with 8.5 sacks and a reinforced shelf full of awards. Whilst his height and weight are not prototypical of a dominating defensive tackle Ellis has the motor of a transatlantic cruise liner, and is an excellent fit for the Saints. I’m not convinced that every fan inside Wembley Stadium in October will fully appreciate the skills of Ellis in the middle of a mud filled trench war, but I will be straining my eyeballs towards number #98 when the game begins. 3 tackles and a sack would be a fantastic day out for Ellis in London.
Chargers – Pick Number 27 overall – Selection – Antoine Cason – Cornerback – College – Arizona Wildcats – Contract status – 5 year contract signed – 6 ft 0 – 191lbs – Shirt #20
Lawrence Vos’s Position analysis
The Chargers were just one game away from the Superbowl, but two Tom Brady touchdown passes were enough to kill San Diego’s prospects of a second Superbowl appearance. What does Coach Norv Turner do to immediately address the problem – he got rid of Drayton Florence and upgraded to Antoine Cason, to go alongside 2007 All World corner Antonio Cromartie. Cason had 253 tackles and 15 interceptions as a Wildcat in the desert, quite impressive stats for a cornerback. At Wembley in October Cason will be going up against the likes of Devery Henderson, David Patten, Robert Meachem or even Jeremy Shockey, which will be a stern test for Cason. Rookie cornerbacks can often be picked on and by mid-season it will become apparent if Cason is going to sink or swim. With a father and two cousins that have already played in the NFL Cason will have the bonus of years of advice and guidance about being a professional athlete. Being a first round pick there will be expectations by coaches and fans that Cason will be game ready from game one. My prediction for his game in London – 2 tackles and one pass defended, and one huge mistake.
Anyone else got any thoughts on Ellis or Cason ? Feel free to comment……