Five of their drafts picks play on the defensive side of the ball
After finishing the 2016 season 7-9, the New Orleans Saints focused on defense instead of using the 2017 draft to acquire Drew Brees’ heir. Five of their drafts picks play on the defensive side of the ball, including 6- foot-4 266-pound defensive end Trey Hendrickson from Florida Atlantic University.
“I was proud of any round,” Hendrickson said during a conference call. “I just like to see all the defensive ends, who and where [they go], but besides that, no I had no expectations on all the hype.”
He was named first-team All-C-USA again in 2016
Hendrickson was drafted in the third round (103rd overall). He earned defensive MVP honors from the East-West Shrine Game. The defensive end garnered first-team all-conference accolades in 2015. He racked up a total of 13.5 sacks for the season, 15 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles. He was named first-team All-C-USA again in 2016 (51 tackles, 15 for loss, 9.5 sacks).
“Blocking kicks and an extra point when we get scored on, nothing shows how much you care about the game of football as going as hard as you can after they score,'” Hendrickson said in a teleconference. “It shows a lot about your character and how much you want to win and if I could get one or two and take the wind out of their sails, I was going to do that for my team.”
The Saints ended the 2016 season ranked in the bottom third of defensive units in the NFL. The Saints defensive core along with the high-powered offense lead by Brees helped them win Super Bowl XLIV. Hendrickson should fit in well at defensive end in the Saints 4-3 defense. His speed should help the Saints tremendously on the defensive side of the ball. Hendrickson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds. The seventh fastest time in NFL Combine history.
Hendrickson is one of FAU’s most complete defensive players in school history. In 2016, he was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. He is the all-time leader in sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback hurries, and forced fumbles.
Hendrickson could make an immediate impact on defense
“It’s an honor and privilege to play alongside guys who have already done it,” Hendrickson said. “Coming out there as a rookie, you’re always playing for your career, so every down, every rep I take is a resume, and I’m ready to do that.” Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson could make an immediate impact on defense and special teams for the Saints. He uses his hands to deflect blocks. His lateral moves bring swiftness to the Saints defensive unit. In addition, Hendrickson also poses a threat on special teams. In 2016 he blocked a punt, two field goals and an extra point in 2016. His arm length is shorter than the average defensive end. Even though he has short arms, his speed and his ability to block on special teams, he will be an asset to the Saints in the coming years.
“You’ve got an effort motor guy with really good measurables”
“You’ve got an effort motor guy with really good measurables, except for the short arms. And all I’m telling you is New Orleans needs to effect the pass game and he’s going to be one of those guys that can stick his hand in the dirt or stand up depending on what they need.” Mike Mayock said.
Mickey Loomis caught heat for not drafting a pass rusher. But, Hendrickson probably will fit in nicely with the Cameron Jordan.
“You cannot force those things,” he said. “That is just the outcome. We only have seven picks in a given draft and you kind of have to take it the way it comes sometimes. We’ve tried to make trades before. We’ve tried to trade up at times, but it just hasn’t worked out.” Loomis said after being questioned on why the waited until the third round to draft a pass rusher.
Loomis said Hendrickson’s work effort, combined with talent and skill set make him a promising player. “I think that this is what we like – a high-effort player, very productive, did some really good things athletically at the Combine,” Loomis said. “He can be a contributor on special teams. There are a lot of things to really like about him and that’s one of them, obviously.”