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Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Saints rankings: No. 8 OLB Junior Galette

By Mike Triplett

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. Think, who would you want on the field most in Week 1 this season?

At No. 8, it’s outside linebacker Junior Galette.

Profile: Year 5, Age 26, 6-foot-2, 258 pounds

Analysis: Galette was a force to be reckoned with last year, busting loose for a career-high 12 sacks and setting himself up for a Pro Bowl-caliber future. I’m not sure if his 2013 season counts as a “breakout” since we already saw signs of his pass-rushing prowess when he was a part-time player from 2011-2012 (a combined 9.5 sacks over two seasons). But clearly, this was a case of Galette taking his game to the next level.

Galette’s big year was a combination of his first full-time starting opportunity and his personal growth and maturity after joining the NFL as an undrafted free agent from Stillman College in 2010. His dynamic athleticism and unbridled energy and enthusiasm were always apparent. But along the way he has also improved his stamina, technique and run defense.

The marriage with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan also made a huge difference, obviously. Ryan immediately recognized what he had in Galette last summer and promised a big year to come from him. And Galette was a perfect fit for Ryan’s creative and versatile defensive approach. Although Galette was officially listed as an outside linebacker, he essentially played defensive end in a four-man front for most of the year. He served as a perfect companion to fellow pass rusher Cameron Jordan across the field, with the two often pressuring the QB right into the other’s path.

Galette was a monster in some key late-season games, including the playoff win against the Philadelphia Eagles and his three sacks in a December win over the Carolina Panthers.

Previous rankings:

No. 20 (tie) RBs Mark Ingram/Khiry Robinson
No. 19 WR Kenny Stills
No. 18 S Rafael Bush
No. 17 LB David Hawthorne
No. 16 CB Champ Bailey
No. 15 P Thomas Morstead
No. 14 OT Zach Strief
No. 13 RB Pierre Thomas
No. 12 DE Akiem Hicks
No. 11 S Kenny Vaccaro
No. 10 LB Curtis Lofton
No. 9 G Ben Grubbs