I caught up with Vance Meek of RaisingZona.com to discuss the Saints’ newest d-line addition, Alex Okafor. Below is what he had to say. Many thanks to him for taking the time, and make sure you check him out on Twitter.
Andrew from Saints Nation: The Saints are DESPERATE for pass rushers. They are so weak in this area, you have no idea. I saw Okafor had only 3.5 sacks last year which is low for him, but he played all year with a bicep injury. What do you view him as in terms of quality at this stage of his career?
Vance from Raising Zona: Okafor was a starter for most of the two seasons prior to 2016. In those two seasons he had 8 and 2. He was originally a 4th round pick, so he was always a “take a shot” type of talent, but he’s still young, and can be a good situational player.
I actually remember evaluating Okafor as a rookie and thinking he was a clear 4-3 end, which is what he played at Texas. I actually believe he was miscast in his role with the Cardinals, due to the 3-4 scheme run over there. My hope is a return to an every down 4-3 end positioning could do his game and stats a lot of good. Agree?
I do agree that his best position would be as a 4-3 end. He has good size, and was a good run defender coming out. I’m not sold that he’d be a double-digit sack artist regardless, but as an overall player, it’d play to his strengths.
What’s the feeling from the fan base over losing him? Disappointed or totally whatever?
With Chandler Jones and Markus Golden here, and Okafor coming off of two seasons where he put up marginal numbers, most fans are ok with it. They are also in the midst of losing guys like Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson, so losing a depth guy registers much lower.
How big of a concern is the injury? Has he been banged up a lot in his time in Arizona?
I wouldn’t think the injury is a concern going forward. The Saints don’t seem to think so. His biggest issue was just that Jones and Golden were so good, that Okafor didn’t have a spot. He hasn’t had any injuries that seem recurring.
Any other info or random tidbits about him? Can he start for the Saints and be productive?
Okafor could be a decent starter, especially in a position that suits him better. He’s probably not going to be a Pro Bowl type, but he could be a solid role player. He might wind up being remembered in Arizona for the mysterious toe injury he suffered just before the 2016 playoffs. He missed the team’s playoff run, and gave no explanation for the injury, and it was listed by the team as a non-football injury. Bruce Arians famously told reporters to go ask Alex when he was questioned about it.