The Saints are already contenders for the 2018 Super Bowl, but what can they do in the draft to put them over the top? We took a look at some of the top prospects in the positions we feel are “needs”. If the Saints have the chance to add one of these young, talented prospects in the draft, they might be raising another Lombardi for the late Mr. B and the city of New Orleans. All while playing sixty minutes of championship football in their rival’s city.
*All prospects are listed in order of their NFLDraftScout.com ranking.
Top Prospects: Harold Landry, Sam Hubbard, Lorenzo Carter
Second Day Prospects: Arden Key, Rasheem Green, Uchenna Nwosu
Even though Alex Okafor has been re-signed to a two-year deal with the Saints, they should still be in the draft market for edge rushers. There’s no telling if we will get the Okafor back that we had last season before his injury ended his year early. Prior to his injury he had compiled 27 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He was also PFF’s third-highest rated edge rusher when it came to run-stop percentage. So while all of that says that he was obviously playing one of his best years, there’s no just guarantee that’s what we get back.
Adding another young edge defender to the mix to split time with Okafor, Hendrickson, and Kikaha opposite Cam Jordan would do nothing but help put this defensive line over the top. Even with the Saints missing out on Ndamokung Suh, their interior defensive line is still stellar and only getting better with Rankins, Onyemata, and Davison. If Rankins and Jordan continue to draw double-teams, the opposite side of the line needs to be in a position to eat off of one-on-one situations. Doing so will not only make the opposing offensive line regret double-teaming Cam Jordan, but will also make them panic when they learn they have to decide whether or not to double the opposite side as well- leaving Cam one-on-one.
Top Prospects: Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore
Second Day Prospects: Anthony Miller, Dante Pettis, DaeSean Hamilton
With the recent signing of former Bears Wide Receiver Cameron Meredith, one can breathe a small sigh of relief because we now have a big-bodied option in the slot to work with Michael Thomas and deep threat Ted Ginn Jr. However, Meredith is coming off of a 2017 knee injury and while he expects to be ready for training camp, you can’t blame the Saints for looking at additional options. Especially because there are still some questions marks surrounding RFA Willie Snead who has reported for voluntary team activities despite not yet signing his tender.
The Saints are obviously still exploring options with rumors circulating that they may have some interest for former Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant. So it stands to reason that the draft could be another avenue to secure some talent beyond the third receiver position. While Ridley will likely be off the board by the time we select at 27th, the others should be there at 27 or still there if we trade back into the second round. Moore, Miller, Pettis, and Hamilton all have top-floor value as slot receivers and a few can contribute from the outside as well. Pettis, in particular, also brings his added value as an explosive returner. The return game is an element that Payton and Special Teams Coach mike Westoff have been looking to improve upon.
Top Prospects: Mark Andrews, Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert
Second Day Prospects: Hayden Hurst, Ian Thomas
It’s no mystery that New Orleans covets pass-catching Tight Ends. It’s also no mystery that there’s not really one on their roster right now below the age of 37. Picking up an imposing, pass-catching force for the offense seems like a no-brainer. The questions is, where to do it and what’s on the board at the time you’re ready to select. Andrews, Gesicki, and Goedert all have a chance in going in the first round but also all have a chance to slip possibly into the early third. That’s how deep this tight end class is, teams can wait to select even the top prospects.
At some point or another, each of these five prospects has been mocked tot he Saints and, in all honestly, all of them have the potential to be contributor right away in Sean Payton’s offense. Should be no surprise though that my favorite it Gesicki.
Top Prospects: James Daniels, Will Hernandez, Isaiah Wynn, Kolton Miller
Second Day Prospects: Austin Corbett, Frank Ragnow, Alex Kappa
I believe I’m on wax as having said that I wouldn’t be mad at all if we took an offensive lineman in the first round at 27. There are some great linemen in this draft and many are extremely versatile, a coveted quality by New Orleans.
While we did have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL last season, it makes sense to start to add more depth in the trenches. Max Unger is 32 years old, Terron Armstead is nearly as injury-prone as he is a great player, Zach Strief retired, and Senio Kelemete took the starting job he deserved with the Texans.The signing of Jermon Bushrod partially fills the hole left by Kelemete, but there are still necessary patches. Someone I didn’t name on this list in OG/C Sean Welsch who is every bit as versatile as you’d want on your line.
Who are some sleeper candidates on your radar for these positions? While there are a lot of early and mid round picks that can be difference-makers, there are certainly many in the later rounds that have that potential as well. Let us know who you think might be under-appreciated but has a chance at surprising in the NFL.