Free agency appears to be slowing down at the current moment for the New Orleans Saints after a restoration and slight rebuild during the first two weeks of March.
With the additions of Derek Carr and Jamaal Williams offensively followed by Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd defensively, the Saints look to be putting things together. It doesn’t hurt that up to nine players – including Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara – have decided to stick around and restructure their contracts.
Now, with those deals in place, the team can focus more on the upcoming NFL Draft and filling any looming needs that might still be around. So, that brings us to the question: What do the Saints need?
The Saints have selections in each of the first three rounds minus a trade, which at this point doesn’t seem likely. The team absolutely needs a running back, wide receiver, and defensive end to provide further depth. The good news here is that with any of those positions, draftees will have the chance to learn from a Pro-Bowler who is currently atop the depth chart.
New Orleans has five picks in the last four rounds where selections are generally made for the sake of the bench, but occasionally, a diamond in the rough can be found here. The team should look to draft a quarterback, offensive lineman, linebacker, safety, or defensive tackle based on who’s left on the board. None of these positions are currently a spot of need for the Saints, which is good for insurance purposes.
High selections come with big expectations, and for all rookies, there is always a learning curve that some big-time college players don’t want to adhere to. The idea of drafting a quarterback with one of the team’s first three picks is overrated. History shows that some of the best quarterbacks to ever play were late picks (see Tom Brady, Roger Staubach, Bart Starr) or undrafted (see Kurt Warner, Warren Moon). It mostly depends on coaching and chemistry. That being said, if a quarterback with decent intangibles is still available in the later rounds, the Saints should go for it.
There’s league-wide hesitation in drafting running backs early, especially with the position tending to have the shortest career length. However, New Orleans has had tremendous success drafting running backs. From Ricky Williams to Deuce McAllister and most recently Alvin Kamara, why not try and get a good running back early on? This could definitely pan out to be an underrated move by the Saints’ front office.
Under general manager Mickey Loomis’ lead, the Saints have done a remarkable job in the draft over the last 17 years. This can be largely attributed to the fact that they don’t put too much thought into drafting outside of their means. They get behind who they want but have a backup plan regardless. According to former head coach Sean Payton, “We never selected a player that was outside of NFL protocol, because we never needed someone like that.” The bottom line is to stick with the plan, and it tends to work out.
New Orleans Saints 2023 Draft Picks
- 1st round (#29)
- 2nd round (#40)
- 3rd round (#71)
- 4th round (#115)
- 5th round (#146)
- 5th round (#165)
- 7th round (#227)
- 7th round (#257 – Compensatory Selection)
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