Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
DE/OLB Junior Galette (6’2 | 258 | 4.77): Was one of Ryan Pace’s best finds from the undrafted pool in 2010 out of little known Stillman college. Galette had no impact as a rookie but showed promise as a pass rusher the next two years before breaking out in 2013-2014. The switch from 3-4 to 4-3 had almost no effect on Galette as he had 12 sacks and 52 pressures as a 3-4 OLB, then 10 sacks, 58 pressures, and the 4th highest grade among 4-3 DEs from PFF after his position change. Galette has proved to be versatile, productive, and one of the best undrafted free agents in the last ten years.
I find it hard to believe that the Saints are willing to trade Jordan or Galette, a pair of borderline dominant pass rusher just reaching the cusp of their prime (25 & 26 years old). But if the Saints are willing to move either guy then the Bears should be interested and make a run at one if not both players (preferably Jordan).
LT Terron Armstead (6’5 | 304 | 4.71): In his time as the Saints Director of Player Personnel Ryan Pace showed a knack for finding NFL players from small schools in the middle rounds. We’ve already covered Galette (Stillwood) and Hicks (Regina), but Terron Armstead (Arkansas Pine-Bluff) is another one. A former 3rd round pick in 2013, Armstead earned the starting left tackle job by the end of his rookie season and was the 16th best left tackle according to PFF in his first season as a starter in 2014. The ability to identify and draft starting left tackles in the 3rd round of a draft is part of the reason the Bears brought Pace on board as their GM. Like every player on this list, I am shocked the Saints are considering dealing them, but that Stills trade and all the rumors make me think anything is possible.
Armstead is an elite athlete who also starred in track & field in college and has agile, nimble feet to stay in front of the most explosive edge rushers in the league. Bears OC Adam Gace has shown a preference for screens and quick passes, which would allow Armstead to use his speed (4.71) and agility to get out in space on the 2nd level where he has shown the ability to crush both LBs and DBS. He’s not a mauling run blocker, but is quick enough to get into defenders before they can react and graded as a positive run blocker (3.9) during his first season as a starter. It’s crazy that the Saints don’t have Armstead on the list of players they won’t move, but if they are willing to do so the Bears should make a significant effort to get it done. At only 23 years old and with a high ceiling, Armstead could be the Bears left tackle for the next 7-8 years.
DT/DE Akiem Hicks (6’5 | 318 | 5.21): Another good find for Pace and the Saints from Regina, Canada. Pace did refer to drafting Hicks as his biggest mistake of his young career during his initial Bears press conference. Pace brought up how he will never draft for need again after taking a DT in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft instead of taking the best player on his board (WR T.Y. Hilton) who went three picks later. Despite Pace’s regret over passing on Hilton, Hicks has become a solid player for the New Orleans. In 2013 as a LE in the Saints 3-4 alignment Hicks had 6 sacks and the 12th best run stopping grade (4.9) off all 3-4 DEs. Hicks was decent as a DT in the Saints 4-3 last season but had only 2 sacks and a lower (but still decent) run stopping grade. Perhaps a Bears player like Will Sutton, who is a classic 4-3 DT, and a mid-to-late round draft pick could be enough to pry Hicks from the Saints.