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Taking another look at draft needs for the New Orleans Saints

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints

For 56 years, the New Orleans Saints have been a staple to the Gulf South region of the United States, and due to their success over the last two decades, the interest picks up whenever a move is made – whether that be in free agency or the draft.

This year’s free agency market, despite a few losses, has treated the Saints well with the additions of quarterback Derek Carr, running back Jamaal Williams, safety Jonathan Abram, and defensive tackles Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd. New Orleans has also agreed on restructured contracts with wide receiver Michael Thomas, linebacker Demario Davis, and defensive end Cameron Jordan.

All the moves this offseason seem to have the organization pointed in the right direction for at least the short-term, but it brings us to the question, “What are the Saints going to do in the 2023 NFL Draft?”

Here’s a look at the needs and gaps to build back a winning culture in New Orleans.

POSITIVES

Having a signal caller with a quality coaching relationship such as Carr and Dennis Allen do is very reminiscent of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees and former Saints head coach Sean Payton. However, a scheme needs to be established early and players need to be held accountable. The addition of an offensive lineman, a secondary running back, and a slot receiver who is willing to play special teams could all be of aid.

Adding Saunders and Shepherd to the defensive line were big pick-ups for a defense that might have ranked third in the NFL but still struggled to stop the run in 2022. Pro-Bowlers Marcus Lattimore and Tyrann Mathieu return to the secondary along with a few young but experienced free agents.

NEGATIVES

If the injury bug strikes, the Saints could be in a world of trouble. That means general manager Mickey Loomis’ history of drafting for depth would honestly be ideal for this year specifically. With eight picks, a handful should be considered for immediate insurance purposes. Even though the Saints have maintained a strong defense over the last five years, the need for defensive lineman and linebackers are imminent, and fortunately enough, those two position groups have strong pools in this year’s draft.

OVERRATED

The idea of staying put and not moving around is an overrated way to look at the upcoming draft as there are a few unstable situations New Orleans needs to prepare for. For instance, running back Alvin Kamara is sure to be suspended, but he could also face a much more serious punishment such as jail time following a Las Vegas brawl. In order to be ready for whatever may happen, the Saints should consider moving up in the draft if need be to get a rookie running back who can also provide assistance on special teams.

UNDERRATED 

The Saints linebackers, offensive line, and everything-man Taysom Hill have not been given enough credit over the last two years, doing everything they can to provide the team an opportunity to win. Returning linebackers Davis and Pete Werner came close to leading the league in tackles and an added draft pick along with the recent return of Andrew Dowell would make for a quality unit. Hill, on the other hand, is not your typical tight end even though that’s technically his designated position nowadays. Selecting a true tight end to work with Juwan Johnson could serve as an underrated pick for the Saints.

BOTTOM LINE

Although the front office and coaching staff have never wanted to be viewed as a group that depends on the draft, utilizing picks for immediate insurance purposes could help solidify the new culture that Loomis and Allen are trying to build in New Orleans.

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)

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of SuperTalk Mississippi Media.

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