After several disappointing seasons, the Saints decided to cut defensive tackle John Jenkins last Tuesday. They did it because of the new talent at the position, but also because of the lack of production from the Georgia Bulldogs product who was drafted in the 4th Round of the 2013 draft.
Cutting former draft picks has become more and more common for the Saints over the last few years, and it’s a bad trend that hopefully will see the end very soon.
To give an indication of just how bad the drafting has been, let’s look the the drafts from 2012-2014. The Saints drafted 16 players, and of those 16 only Kenny Vaccaro, Terron Armstead and Brandin Cooks have not been either cut or traded to another team.
Now, these three players are obviously really good at football, but the real problem is not that the team can’t draft elite players. No, the problem is they never seem to find the solid ones or develop the potential. The type of role players who really help the team, but might not get all the attention has been missing. This team needs those kind of players to build a Super Bowl contender, and these 7-9 records will most likely continue without them.
The good news is that it looks like the front office might have had more success in 2015 and 2016. While there still are some big negatives from the 2015 draft, they still have guys like Andrus Peat, Hau’oli Kikaha, P.J. Williams and Tyeler Davison. These are players who might not ever become superstars in the league, but players you want in your team and players who can help build a strong core for a good team.
And the 2016 draft looks amazing too. We don’t completely know about Sheldon Rankins yet, but he has all the tools to become a dominant player. Michael Thomas has been one of the best receivers in the league this season, and Vonn Bell looks more and more like a really good player, but what you all should really like is the fact that David Onyemata and Daniel Lasco also look like solid role players this team can use in the future.
In the past, the draft has been hit or miss for the Saints, but it might just be better with a few less really elite players and a lot more solid role players. We have seen signs of improvement, but let’s see what happens in the next few years. Hopefully cuts like the one we saw last week will be a rare sight going forward.