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Grading the New Orleans Saints’ performance in the 2023 NFL Draft

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints

The 2023 NFL Draft was both entertaining and emotional yet filled with chaos and drama all the way from the first pick to “Mr. Irrelevant” in the seventh round.

With a few trade-ups and unseen movements, the New Orleans Saints used their established formula to make choices, which hopefully will fulfill their needs in the upcoming season and beyond.

“When there are guys on the boards you like, you move up and try to get them,” Saints head coach Dennis Allen said. “If the guys there that you believe in, you go get them.”

After evaluating each of the Saints’ seven picks, here is my final grade for the New Orleans Saints 2023 draft class.

FIRST ROUND (29): Clemson DT Bryan Bresee

Bresee is a 6’6”, 300-pound dominant pass rusher that routinely sheds blockers with his quick hands and feet. Next to Jalen Carter from Georgia (who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles from New Orleans), Bresee might be the best defensive tackle. Despite overcoming adversity in his family and an ACL injury in 2021, this was a solid selection for the Saints.

SECOND ROUND (40): Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey

Foskey was a surprising choice for the Saints – not because of his talent but due to the team’s need for a tight end or linebacker. That being said, Foskey is quick, long-armed, and a solid tackler from the edge. He is also great a creating turnovers when he gets into the backfield.

THIRD ROUND (71): TCU RB Kendre Miller

As the Saints remain in a somewhat state of flux at the running back position with Alvin Kamara’s impending suspension, drafting a running back in the first few rounds was not an unforeseen move. Miller is explosive, hard to tackle, and makes defenders miss. While he isn’t a great receiving back, his 74 forced missed tackles will put him on the field eventually. In three years at TCU, Miller started over half of his games and rushed for over 2,400 yards.

FOURTH ROUND (103): Old Dominion OL Nick Saldiveri

The Saints traded up to select Saldiveri out of Old Dominion. Considered one of the best G5 offensive linemen in this year’s class, Saldiveri was a three-year starter for the Monarchs who spent time at both the guard and tackle positions. Skillful at protecting the pass, his short wingspan may make him a better guard in the NFL.

FOURTH ROUND (127): Fresno State QB Jake Haener

An unusual choice for the Saints, but Haener’s size and arm strength are underrated. The 2023 Senior Bowl MVP has great accuracy and touch but sometimes struggles with the deep toss. Haener also went to the same school as current New Orleans quarterback Derrick Carr, which could help with communication and comradery.

FIFTH ROUND (146): Minnesota S Jordan Howden

Howden was a five-year starter at Minnesota who had 240 tackles over the course of his career with the Wolverines. The two big cons of this pick were Howden’s struggles to locate the ball and the Saints’ lack of need at the safety position.

SIXTH ROUND (195): Wake Forest WR AT Perry

Perry is a big guy that can win one-on-one battles with his long arms, but he sometimes has a habit of dropping catchable passes. He is the all-time Wake Forest leader in touchdown receptions and could turn into a good slot receiver for the Saints.

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS

The Saints didn’t stop after Sunday’s conclusion to the NFL Draft, picking up 11 undrafted players: SaRodorick Thompson (Texas Tech RB), Alex Pihlstrom (Illinois OL), Mark Evans II (Arkansas-Pine Bluff OL), Joel Wilson (Central Michigan TE), Lou Hedley (Miami P), Anthony Johnson (Virginia DB), Anfernee Orji (Vanderbilt LB), Nick Anderson (Tulane LB), Blake Grupe (Notre Dame K), Shaq Davis (South Carolina WR), and Sy Barnett (Davenport WR).

The New Orleans Saints did a good job filling a handful of their needs in the 2023 NFL Draft, and thanks to Jeff Ireland’s formula, they were able to select the best player available more times than not. However, they did not draft a tight end or a linebacker – two positions of need noted by general manager Mickey Loomis in the team’s pre-draft press conference.

OVERALL GRADE – B+

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