I've said this enough times to assuredly make all of you that read this blog with any regularity sick, but a 3-4 defense works best with an anchor nose space eater. If you want to do it right, you have to have that guy. With that in mind, the Saints drafted John Jenkins who I firmly believe is the future of defense at that position. Hopefully he can develop into an elite player. In the meantime, this year will be a little bit of mixing and matching at nose. Here are the players, and keep in mind that while I listed Akiem Hicks as a defensive end, he'll definitely had a chance at some reps at nose as well. Here are the players:
Brodrick Bunkley: He has the size and most importantly the strength to handle his own as a nose tackle. I still think he's best as a 4-3 tackle on running plays, but he won't be incapable by any means. In fact, in 2011 when Bunkley played with the Broncos, he started 16 games at nose in a 3-4 scheme. Further, according to PFF he graded the best in his career when playing in the Broncos defense as a nose. Now I think part of that is the players he had around him in Denver, which was one of the best units in the league that year. He's the starter for now but I view him as a stopgap more than a permanent solution. He's a lock to make the team.
John Jenkins: As far as I'm concerned, this kid better turn out to be special because the Saints gave up Chris Ivory alongside a draft pick to land him. At 350lbs +, size is definitely not the issue and he certainly looks the part. He's also an incredible athlete with great quickness for his size. He's a physical freak and the only think holding him back is his weight, which for now seems under control. With New Orleans being his place of employment, though, we'll have to hope the distractions don't prove too much. The only thing standing in the way of this guy being a starter and successful is himself. He has all the physical tools he needs to be a long time quality starter. He's a lock to make the team.
Tyrunn Walker: Walker was a big surprise addition to the 53 man roster last season based on a monster preseason, despite being an undrafted rookie free agent. Unfortunately he never really got a shot to do much in the regular season. It looks as though they are trying him out at nose for the moment, but he could easily end up at end too, or play a bit of both. I think the Saints like his potential and he stands a decent shot at making the team again, especially given his potential to play both positions like Hicks.
Isaako Aaitui: Undrafted coming into the NFL, the Saints are now Aaitui's third team. He was with the Jets last season in training camp, so I'm sure there's Rex Ryan influence on him ending up with the Saints. He is recovering from an ACL and MCL tear, too, so that makes his odds even less likely. He has the size to play nose, though.
Prediction: Bunkley and Jenkins are the clear 1 and 2 at this position, and they will make this team. I also see Walker making the team again because of his potential.