Let's face it, this was actually a down season for our offense. We would bust out of the gates with our scripted plays and seemingly dominate the opponent only to simmer down and almost become uninterested in the game. That was a big problem to me. Another problem was the running game, pass protection, Drew Brees's trigger happy ways (sorry, Drew), and receivers just didn't seem nearly as explosive. All of these things must be improved upon, and most of them should be easy fixes. So with that, I will allow myself more in-depth analysis for each position.
Offensive Tackle- earliest target round (1st)
By no means is tackle a need, but I wouldn't be even slightly surprised if the team decided to take one with the 24th pick of the draft. Our tackles this season certainly left a lot to be desired, and they were a big reason why Drew was sacked 25 times, and it really could have been a lot worse is Drew wasn't so quick to realize he was in trouble. They can also be blamed with a good bit of Drew's gaudy INT numbers. Bushrod is not an elite tackle, but is still young with room to improve, Stinchcomb (who is the weak link on the entire line) may cede to a younger player. I know he's a Sean Payton favorite, but there were just too many games where he just got completely outmatched and dominated by the opposition. If the team really believes a franchise LT is not on this roster, then they may grab one with this pick.
- Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin (rd1)
- Derek Sherrod, Miss. St. (rd1)
- Lee Ziemba, Auburn (rd2)
Offensive Guard- earliest target round (3rd)
Not many teams have two starting guards like we do. Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks were both fantastic finds in past drafts, and have shown consistent domination thus far. However, there's no depth behind them other than Matt Tennant who may take over at center should Goodwin walk out. I think Payton will want to find another good, young player who can play any position inside that line that could step in seamlessly should one of our big two go down.
- Marcus Cannon, TCU (rd3)
- Andrew Jackson, Fresno St. (rd3)
Center- earliest target round (3rd)
Jonathan Goodwin has done a great job since taking over for Jeff Faine a few years ago, but he's a free agent and on the wrong side of 30. While I believe that linemen sometimes age better than most positions, there's no need to take a risk. Of course Tennant is also still here, and if Goodwin stays, then there's no need for a center, but just the sake of this post, I'll assume that Goodwin leaves and we need to pick someone up.
- Stefen Wisniewski, Penn St. (rd3)
- Kris O'Dowd, USC (rd4)
Quarterback- earliest target round (1st)
No, I do not believe Drew Brees is on the decline. But I also don't believe that Chase Daniel is the guy we want when Drew Brees does decide to hang it up. I like Chase and I think he makes for a good backup, but when Drew goes I think Sean Payton would benefit greatly from having a bigger, strong armed quarterback in his system. Payton loves the vertical game, and this season there wasn't much of one. Drew misfired on a lot of deep balls, and definitely had a down year in that category where he is usually great. So you're probably wondering why I'm putting round 1 as a potential spot for us getting a QB, that reason is Cam Newton.
Yes, Cam Newton. The Saints are firm believers in taking the best player available, almost without regard of position, and depending on how high the have Newton rated, he could actually be the pick here. He's obviously pretty raw as a passer, but I think Payton absolutely drools over the possibilities of the offense with Newton and Brees. I could talk for days about this, but I'll leave it as it is.
- Cam Newton, Auburn (rd1)
- Pat Devlin, Delaware (rd2-3)
- Nathan Enderle (rd2-4)
Running Back- earliest target round (1st)
For once, I actually see this position as one of a huge need, and you'll see that I have little love for the guys we currently have. Chris Ivory is the only guy certain to return for us next season, and personally he's the only guy I would care to see return. Reggie Bush is a headache for me, overpaid, overrated, and fragile, he just doesn't really do anything special. He's lost almost every ounce of explosiveness from knee injuries and a broken leg, even though he's only given 10-15 touches a game tops. He hasn't earned a spot on this roster and I think that we should just let him go. The fact is that he's a replaceable talent at this point of his career, and if we let him go, then he may be near the end of the road in his NFL career. I used to love the guy, but sometimes it's just time to let go, and this may be that kind of season for not just him, but several players around the team.
Pierre Thomas may have kicked himself off of this team. Last season's mini contract dispute most him a lot of money. This season only cemented the front office's stance and reasoning for not giving him a big contract. Pierre simply just cannot stay healthy, and with the emergence of Chris Ivory and the interesting draft class, he may be on the outs as well.
Lastly, Ivory can't shoulder the load alone. The way he runs, no. If he could stay healthy, then we'd have a top 5 running back, but it's really not possible and an addition to this corps of walking band aids is needed.
- Mikel Leshoure, Illinois (rd1)
- Mark Ingram, Alabama (rd1)
- Daniel Thomas, Kansas St. (rd2)
- Jordan Todman, UConn (rd3)
Fullback- earliest target round (5th-UDFA)
Heath Evans has been really good since coming to New Orleans, but ended last season on IR, and this season was a little inconsistent. He's also getting up in age, and when he was out a couple of years ago there was really no one who could adequately play the spot other than a reserve tight end. A backup would be nice to find.
- Owen Marecic, Stanford (rd5) If FB doesn't work out, he also plays linebacker
Tight End- earliest target round (4th)
Shockey is in line for a much smaller role or on his way out the door. He had another disappointing season, plagued by injuries, but this time we actually had a guy step up. Jimmy Graham is going to be a menace for the next 10 years, something we haven't had at that spot in God knows how long. Dave Thomas is a decent backup, but I think the team may try to upgrade behind Graham.
- D.J. Williams, Arkansas (rd4)
- Weslye Saunders, S. Carolina (6th)
Wide Receiver- earliest target round (3rd)
At this time, young receivers seemingly come out of nowhere and play spectacular football in exhibition games like the Shrine game and Senior Bowl, so it's really hard to rank wideouts after the first few. Our receiving corps is in an interesting spot. Lance Moore said he wants to come back, but only at the right price. I think we bring him back, and I think we need him back. I don't think this is exactly a position of need, but picking one is not entirely out of the question.
- Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (rd3)
- Titus Young, Boise St. (rd5)
Kick Returner- earliest target round (3rd)
This is actually a big need. Courtney Roby is a very fine special teamer, but he's not a great return man. He's fast, sure, but he's not quick and he goes down pretty easily, two things you don't want in your return man. When Roby went down, things got really bad. There was just no adequate backup for him, everyone else was just horrible, and in a game of inches, starting field position is huge. Having a home run player can make any team a threat.
- Jerrel Jernigan, Troy
- Noel Devine, WVU
- Armando Allen, Notre Dame
Kicker, Punter, Long Snapper
I think Payton will bring in some guys over the minicamps, tryouts, and training camps to take a look at for future reference in case a starter goes down. This draft is actually filled with some really good kickers, so don't be shocked to see one taken. Never doubt anything with this front office.
Well that about sums it up for now. Enjoy!