Steve: Saints Tez-Manian Devil
One Saints player I am really excited to see in action this season is Martez Wilson. He has ENORMOUS potential. "Tez" played linebacker in college and as a rookie, but now he is making the move to defensive end under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Why the move?
Well I think footballoutsiders.com described Wilson best when they said he is a player with a Jevon Kearse-meets-Jason Pierre-Paul body type. Impressive, I know, and that's exactly why Coach Spags has moved him to DE.
"It's working out good," Wilson said. "Defensive end actually feels more natural, and with me dropping... some of the concepts are the same in terms of passing routes. So all the time I've played at linebacker has allowed me to understand the defense a little faster. I'm loving the change."
It's far from a secret that the Saints need to bolster their rush. Will Smith is really the only proven pass rusher on the front four, and he has to serve a four-game suspension to open the season. If the Saints can make Wilson into a Kearse/Pierre-Paul type player, the defense will be upgraded immensely.
What was Wilson's story last season?
He played sparingly, but Wilson did produce a major highlight. He sacked Panthers rookie phenom QB Cam Newton on a blitz up the middle for a 16-yard loss. Former D-coordinator Gregg Williams used him just as a situational blitz-package player in his rookie season, but Spagnuolo sees a player who can do and be so much more.
In his tenure with the Giants, Spags masterminded a shocking Super Bowl victory over the unbeaten Patriots by utilizing the pass-rushing talents of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. One of his key packages consisted of four athletic defensive ends, rather than bulky 300-pound tackles, on the front line. It was designed to pressure the quarterback with quick, powerful rushes while still providing capable zone coverage if anyone needed to drop back. It is a risky strategy, but it did help earn a Super Bowl XLII ring for the G-Men.
Martez Wilson definitely has the speed. His 40-yard dash time of 4.49 seconds made him the fastest linebacker in the 2011 class. To put that time into context, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, clocked in at 4.58 and 4.38 respectively. Jaw dropping I know. Having a defender on your roster strong enough to stop Tebow and quick enough to catch Newton is a major advantage for any team.
So his speed can translate to defensive end, but how about Wilson's size? At 6 foot 4 and 255 pounds, he is perhaps 15 to 20 pounds lighter than most NFL DE's. However, Wilson's measurements are identical to those of Osi Umenyiora, who is a future Hall-of-Famer that was key to Spag's success in the Big Apple.
I know... I'm jumping way ahead of myself. The team hasn't even hit the field for preseason game #1 yet, but that's how amped I am about this kid. If things play out the way Coach Spagnuolo envisions for #95, Wilson could be the missing piece to the Fleur-Di-Lis D that helps this team play in the "Big Game" that their home turf is hosting.