I’m ranking the top 20 New Orleans Saints players leading up to training camp. It’s based on their current value -- meaning both past accomplishments and potential are taken into account.
At No. 7 is outside linebacker Junior Galette:
Last year’s rank: 8
Analysis: Galette is one of the hardest players to rank because his off-field issues are threatening to hurt the team on the field.
The NFL is reviewing whether a suspension is warranted for an allegation of domestic violence in January (charges were later dropped) and a video that appeared to show Galette hitting a woman with a belt during a group scuffle on a beach in 2013. Galette’s brash attitude also ruffled some feathers last year when he derisively said that the current Saints defensive players were better than the veterans from their Super Bowl era.
To further complicate matters, Galette suffered a pectoral injury this summer that could keep him sidelined for at least part of training camp.
Strictly from an on-field standpoint, though, Galette has been one of the Saints’ most disruptive and productive defensive players over the past two years, with a total of 22 sacks.
Galette had 10 of those sacks last season, plus two safeties -- the kind of game-changing plays New Orleans’ defense was in desperate need of. Pro Football Focus rated Galette as the fifth-most disruptive pass-rusher in the NFL in 2014, crediting him with 13 QB hits and 45 hurries.
The 6-foot-2, 258-pounder has a tendency to over-pursue at times, which hurt last year against both dangerous rushing threats like Cam Newton and less-mobile QBs like Andy Dalton. He could also show more consistency against the run. But Galette is very good at what he does best -- which is disrupting the QB in the pocket with a relentless motor and an unpredictable pass-rushing repertoire. That's why the Saints signed him to a four-year, $41.5 million extension early last season.
ESPN scouting analyst Matt Williamson’s take: “I would say he’s a B, B-plus edge pass-rusher. If you’re comparing him to other edge guys around the league, I probably could easily come up with 10 that I prefer. But I would say his arrow’s been going up the last few years. I can’t say I have a great grasp on him, honestly, as far as strengths and weaknesses. [When it comes to setting the edge or run defense], we don’t know what he’s being coached to do. If his only job is get sacks, well then he’s doing it.”