The Who Dat Nation should know by now that when it comes to draft time, the Saints will more than likely trade up for someone they have their eyes set on. They have done so multiple times in the last several drafts and does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. What seems to bother most fans the most is the price that has to be paid in order to make these moves. Some feel that trading away prime draft capital for the future is a bold and dangerous move. Others may think it was not worth giving up multiple draft stock for someone who may or may not work out. But in reality, the value of a draft pick is more than just a numbered figure or position.
When it really comes down to it, most teams see a certain selection position in many different values. This year, the Saints were able to draft three players within their own top 70 big board. They traded up to grab Erik McCoy and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson after both of them fell further than expected. Again, the question becomes what did they have to give up in order to select these players? The same question could be had when they traded a future first round pick last year to take Marcus Davenport. The biggest factor that needs to be taken into account is how other teams have made draft day trades in the past and how much they gave up in return. First off, let’s break down several trades the Saints have made in the last few years and how much value was really given up to make these moves
2016: Trade up into Round 2 to select Vonn Bell
The Saints were able to strike a deal that landed them Vonn Bell from Ohio State. The cost was their 3rd and 4th round selections which were moved to New England. The Patriots took Joe Thuney and Malcolm Mitchell respectively. Bell had a breakout season last year and showed he was capable of being a starting strong safety in this league. Thuney has been a solid guard for the Patriots (but then again who isn’t in that system) and Mitchell is not even on an NFL roster at this current time. Essentially, the Saints and Patriots got a starter at positions they needed to fill at that time. He value is even and both teams come out as winners.
2016: Trade into Round 4 to select lesser known David Onyemata
No one knew who David Onyemata was when he was taken by the Saints in the 4th round in 2016. In order to do so, they gave up a 5th round selection that year and a 5th rounder in 2017 to the Washington Redskins. With those picks, the Redskins selected DT Matt Ioannidis and TE Jeremy Sprinkle, respectively. Onyemata also had a breakout season in 2018 with a much improved pass rush ability. Ioannidis has also become a solid rotational lineman for Washington but Sprinkle has yet to even make a scene with the team. Overall, another even deal for both team who got solid defensive tackles to improve their defensive line for years to come.
2017: The steal for Alvin Kamara
In what is considered the best draft class of this year, the Saints were already having a great draft in having Marshon Lattimore fall right into their laps and taking Ryan Ramczyk in the 1st round, Marcus Williams slipping to them in the 2nd round, and getting Alex Anzalone in the 3rd round. So what could be better than this? Right before taking Anzalone, they traded up into the top of the 3rd round with the San Francisco 49ers to take Kamara who ended up being the biggest steal of the draft. The cost was a 7th rounder that year and their 2nd round pick in 2018. How could this deal not be a steal? The 49ers took Adrian Colbert with that 7th round selection and traded the 2nd round pick to the Washington Redskins who selected Derrius Guice who had fallen. Colbert is now their starting free safety but had an injury bug last season. Guice did not even play a down because of a season ending torn ACL but he has the potential to be a force if given the opportunity. But there is no contest when it comes to the impact that Kamara has had on this team on and off the field. Saints are the winners by a landslide.
2018: Making the move for Davenport
It was somewhat of a surprise the Saints made a move in this draft, not because of trade up but because of who they selected. They traded into the 14th spot to select DE Marcus Davenport, which was needed because of the uncertainty of the position opposite Cam Jordan. Experts say the team gave up way too much as they surrendered their 1st round pick, a 5th round pick and their 1st round pick in 2019 to the Green Bay Packers. So was it really that much? The Packers traded that 1st round pick to Seattle and they selected Rashard Penny, who was not even projected to be a 1st rounder, let alone the first RB taken. The 5th round selection ended up being traded to Carolina and eventually ended up with the Los Angeles Rams who selected Micah Kiser. The 1st rounder in this year’s draft wound up become the New York Giants selection as they took Deandre Baker from Georgia which made sense after the Eli Apple trade. Now you have four teams who benefit from this one deal. Saints got a future pass rusher to complement Jordan, Seattle got a running back they needed, Rams get a depth linebacker and the Giants get a future starter at cornerback. That does not seem like a lot to me at all.
2019: McCoy and the Law Firm
This year, the Saints had to wait until day two of the draft to make their first selection. With a slew of offensive lineman being taken in the 2nd round, they decide to jump ahead and snag their future starting center in Erik McCoy after Max Unger retired in March. It was not flashy at first, but when you break it down it was a genius endeavor. They swapped picks with the Dolphins in the 2nd round and upgraded to their 4th round selection in exchange for one of our 6th round picks and a 2nd rounder in 2020. Sounds good enough considering McCoy was a projected 1st rounder. But wait, it gets better from there. On day three, the Saints moved up again in the 4th round to select Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, another prospect who was projected late 1st round into the early 2nd round. In exchange, they sent their 4th round and 5th round picks to the New York Jets who in turn traded those choices to the Tennessee Titans. For now, we can’t say who will be the winner but the fact that the Saints were about to get two potential 1st round players in the 2nd and 4th round is definitely a steal in my eyes.
As you can see, the value of a traded draft picks speaks in the volumes of who and where that selection ends up. This goes to show that Loomis and company have a way of getting who they want without giving up prime draft capital in the future. Sure a future pick is a bit much but when the player you take can give you more production than you expected, it comes even in the long run. At least we weren’t like the Chicago Bears who gave up 4 picks in 2017 to take Mitch Trubisky knowing he was going to be there in the spot right after San Francisco. Or even when we traded our entire 1999 draft class for Ricky Williams…..I think that is enough for this one.
Follow Dom Lewis on Twitter @BigFella122