When the Saints drafted defensive end Greg Romeus out of Pittsburgh in the 7th round last year, they knew they were getting a recovering injured player that may need to sit out his rookie season. Romeus was decorated in college, finishing with 4 sacks his freshman year, 7.5 sacks his sophomore year and 8 sacks his junior year. Unfortunately for Romeus, in 2010, he first suffered a back injury that would ultimately require him to get disc surgery, and he suffered a torn ACL later in the season when he tried to come back. He only played sparingly in two games his senior season at Pitt. Coming into the draft he was damaged goods and a shell of his former promising self. His measurables gave him a 1st to 2nd round draft grade before the injury because he is long, lean, tall, fast and explosive. Some went as far as to compare him to Jevon Kearse in terms of stature, build, and potential. A basketball star in high school, Romeus has also been touted as a superior athlete. So the Saints took a flyer on him in the 7th round, a round that’s always a bit of a gamble anyway, with the hopes that he could recover from the two injuries and perhaps contribute to the team down the road.
With the rookie mini camp this past weekend, Romeus was back, fully healthy, and participating with a slew of tryout players and newcomers. Coming back from his injury, Romeus said, “I’m blessed to have another opportunity to play again. It was rough, having two injuries in one year and not really being able to play. It took a little while. But now I’ve overcome that adversity, and it’s just keep pushing forward.”
The Saints currently have 7 defensive ends on the roster and they’ve traditionally kept anywhere from 4 to 5 on their opening day 53 man roster. Keep in mind, of the 7 players currently on the roster, Will Smith is staring a 4 game suspension in the face to begin the year, and two players (Tyrunn Walker and Braylon Broughton) are undrafted rookie free agents. That means Romeus stands an extremely good chance, barring injury or new signings, of starting the season as a top 4 end in the rotation along with Cam Jordan, Turk McBride and Junior Galette. Akiem Hicks is currently listed as a DT, though he’s another player that could compete for some reps at end as well. Still, you have to think Romeus will get every opportunity to make his mark in training camp and preseason if his body can hold up.
While this year’s draft was not very exciting for the Saints for a multitude of reasons, Romeus is a prospect I’m very anxious to see in action. In a way, he’s part of this 1st year player class because last year was a “redshirt” type season for him. I firmly believe, if healthy, he has starter potential down the road in the NFL. That’s a big if given what happened his senior year, which was essentially a perfect storm injury wise, but again we’re talking about a fantastic athlete that carried a 1st/2nd round draft grade. Looking forward to seeing him on the field!