Following the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints signed former Michigan State Spartans linebacker Joe Bachie as an undrafted free agent. Undrafted free agents have more difficult paths of making an active NFL roster, so what are Bachie’s chances of making a name for himself in the Big Easy?
Here is our conversation below:
1. How does Bachie fit into the Saints’ defensive scheme as a middle linebacker, and what do you foresee his role being with the team?
Kade: New Orleans has a promising, but oft-injured linebacker corps. Alex Anzalone and Kiko Alonso have the talent to be difference makers, but it depends on how well they stay healthy. It was for this reason that the Saints drafted (Wisconsin’s) Zack Baun in the third-round of the 2020 NFL Draft and even traded up to do so. I think Bachie is another example of New Orleans trying to fill a possible hole at the linebacker position if an injury causes a player like Anzalone, Alonso or even Kaden Elliss to miss sometime. I personally believe that Bachie will play a bigger role on special teams if he were to make the team, and then fill in gaps for the linebacker corps if it came to that.
2. In your opinion, what are the odds Bachie makes the 53-man roster (50/50, better, worse, etc.?), and who is his biggest competition to earn a spot? If he doesn’t make it, do you think New Orleans tries to stash him on the practice squad?
Kade: I think the chances are high. Probably above 60 percent. New Orleans made a commitment to Bachie by making him one of the highest paid undrafted free agents with a $160,000 guaranteed contract. As stated above, I think he will make the team by improving the special teams unit and then expanding his role from there. Again, there are quite a few talented players in front of him each seeking playing time at the linebacker position. As long as he is willing to play special teams and balls out in camp, there should be no reason why he can’t earn a roster spot.
3. What were your initial thoughts about Bachie when he signed with New Orleans (as one of the highest paid undrafted free agents), and were you surprised he went undrafted? What did the general consensus from Saints fans seem to be about the signing?
Kade: I was excited, personally. I think a lot of fans saw the talent and potential of what Bachie could bring to the team, especially after what he accomplished in the Big Ten. That All-Big Ten first-team honor in 2018, plus his elite run defense is incredibly impressive. I’m not exactly surprised he went undrafted, especially with the failed PED test, but I am also not surprised he ended up getting picked up as one of the highest paid undrafted free agents. He seems like a perfect player to take a risk on despite the failed PED test. I think most Saints fans feel the same way. As long as he comes into the locker room, competes, and plays the game the right way, I will be more than happy.
4. Are you concerned about his failed PED test from last fall, and do you see it as an issue moving forward? Why or why not?
Kade: As I mentioned above, I think the failed PED test cost him in the draft. New Orleans has a decent track record of straightening players out due to the strong locker room chemistry. It’s all business. The focus is to win a Super Bowl every single year. If Bachie makes the 53-man roster I will have no worries about him going forward. I would imagine he is looking to put that behind him as well. No better place to do that than the Saints.
5. Due to the coronavirus, rookies have not yet been able to get on the field, as normal activities like rookie minicamp and OTAs were canceled. While players have used Zoom meetings to sharpen their skills on the mental side of the game, they have not been able to do so physically. Do you think this puts undrafted players such as Bachie even further behind the eight-ball? Why or why not?
Kade: Absolutely. Most undrafted free agents never make it in the NFL. Some do, but most don’t. Bachie, and other undrafted free agents need every bit of exposure to teams in order to showcase their skills and make their case to achieve a spot on the roster. Rookie minicamp is a great place to make a first impression and then build off of that in OTAs. Now, Bachie and other UDFAs will have to make the most of training camp which could be their one shot. Again, I think New Orleans made a relatively sizable investment in the linebacker, which should afford him a few extra looks.
6. Anything else we should know about the Saints and Bachie’s fit there?
Kade: Don’t be surprised when he makes the 53-man roster. Also, don’t be surprised when he only plays special teams his rookie year. He will have to earn playing time and has an uphill fight to do so. In the end, I think he initially makes the team.
Head over to CSC to read my crossover piece on what Bachie brings with him to New Orleans.