Comparing Khalen Saunders, Nathan Shepherd to Saints they’re replacing


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Age: 26

Experience: 38 games in 4 years (plus 6 playoff games)

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 324 pounds

Relative Athletic Score: 7.59

2022 defensive snaps: 511 (39.5% vs. run, 58.7% vs. pass), 26.9 snaps per game

PFF run defense grade: 55.8

PFF pass rush grade: 57.2

PFF pass rush win rate (PR productivity): 6.7 (4.0)

PFF average depth of tackle vs. run: 3.1

Contract: Three years, $14.5 million ($4.8 million per year), guarantees TBD

Saunders played a bit part for the Chiefs through his first three years, posting career-highs in defensive snaps (511), quarterback pressures (18), tackles (30), and PFF defensive stops (22) last season. He’s a steady player who offers more against the run than against the pass, so it’s odd to see that Kansas City played him on so many passing downs last year. The Saints can dictate that better by adding more depth to the line and carefully rotating him on and off the field. But Saunders is a great athlete for his size and he should do a lot to help the New Orleans defense win at the line of scrimmage. He makes a lot of hustle plays and was surprisingly effective corralling mobile quarterbacks looking to make a play outside the pocket.