Holy linebacking core Batman!!! How do these guys keep fitting under the cap?! The newest addition is another STUD in David Hawthorne, who along with Chris Chamberlain and Curtis Lofton now give the Saints a completely revamped linebacker trio. Hawthorne is a tested and true run stuffer, but he’s also showed some terrific playmaking ability against the pass with 7 interceptions in 3 seasons. The Saints’ commitment to completely revamp their defense has been earth shattering and exciting. They must be expecting a serious suspension for Vilma and preparing for life without him. Hawthorne and Lofton were listed as two of the top 3 linebackers in free agency (along with Stephen Tulloch). Don’t forget the Saints also landed one of the top defenders in DT Broderick Bunkley. Bountygate or not, it’s clear the Saints are attacking the open market very aggressively to improve the defense. Smart considering the lack of draft picks.
But OF COURSE I’ll give you the Pro Football Focus ratings on Hawthorne…
He rated 18th out of 50 graded NFL inside linebackers, with plus ratings in both pass and run defense. He’s the kind of every down versatile linebacker the Saints need. He received a +5.5 grade against the run and a +2.9 grade against the pass. He was ranked just three spots below Curtis Lofton (15th overall). Dunbar and Vilma, respectively, were ranked 46th and 48th for comparison’s sake. To say that Hawthorne represents yet another huge upgrade to the linebacking core is a massive understatement.
The deal is for 5 years and the terms are not yet disclosed. Hawthorne, 26, gives the Saints another very good young linebacker just entering his prime.