We are almost at the end of November and unfortunately the New Orleans Saints are currently two below .500 with 4-6 record. While we have seen improvement from the squad compared to last year, there are definitely areas to improve and positions to upgrade in the 2017 draft. Today we give you a look at the top needs for the Saints and how they can fill them out in the 2017 NFL draft.
With the current record the Saints are projected to be picking at number 10. Now this could easily change before the draft, since the Saints have one of the easier schedules for the remainder of the season. We’ll use the 10th spot as a baseline for looking at available prospects.
Despite drafting Hau’oli Kikaha in 2015, the Saints should look for a new defensive end in the next draft. That is not saying that Kikaha has been bad, but the consistent lack of pass rush from the defense as a whole makes this the top priority for the Saints and luckily this might be the strongest group in the entire draft.
Some of the top names might be gone at 10, but here are some of the players who maybe should be targeted by the Saints in May.
Derek Barnett, Tennessee
Ever since walking into the doors at Tennessee Barnett has been a starter and a star. He has produced at a very high rate, both when rushing the quarterback, but also when setting the edge and closing out holes against the run. He currently has 30 sacks and 50 tackles for loss over his career and he should be one of the top players on the Saints board.
Charles Harris, Missouri
Harris has also been a big contributor for his team at defensive end and with his spin move, he might just have the best pass rushing move of all pass rushers in this draft . His run game is decent, but could use some improvement to make it at the next level. He currently has 18 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss throughout his college career.
Dawuane Smoot, Illinois
Smoot is kind of different from the other two on the list. He plays really well in the run game, but he struggles to put up the sacks numbers you would like to see from a future NFL defensive end. The good thing is that he does get a lot of pressure and has the power to do the same on the pro level. He has 13.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for loss in his college career
The Saints currently have a decent linebacking core, but there is definitely room for improvement. When is comes to athleticism, power and leadership, Stupar and Robertson have done well, but there is still a need. With the 4-3 and 3-4 schemes we are changing back and forth between, we could fill a spot here. We don’t really know what the future holds for Stephone Anthony, so the Saints should look for help in the draft at this position.
There are some very good options to choose from so lets take a look at who we like the most.
Reuben Foster, Alabama
Reuben Foster is everything you look for in a linebacker and then some. He has the IQ to read and react to plays and he has the ability to finish them as well. He flies around the field all game, making plays against the run and the pass and when he hits you, you know it. All in all he should be a great option for the Saints and if he is available they might just have to go for him.
Jarrad Davis, Florida
Davis is also like Foster a very athletic football player. He has the ability to go sideline to sideline to chase ball carriers as well as cover running backs and tight ends. Another good trait of his is the ability to blitz. He has 5.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, so he definitely knows how to wreak havoc in the backfield.
Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
The word that comes to mind when you see Peppers play is “freak”. He is an absolute freak and it’s hard to find a player with the same type of skill set anywhere in the NFL. A dual threat player, he can carry the ball on offense, return on special teams and make plays in both the run and pass game on defense. Or does that make him a triple threat player? On the year he has 59 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Peppers is a different type of linebacker, but he might just be actually what the Saints need. Peppers has played 986 snap during the season with 50 of them coming on offense.
The Saints do have some developing talent at cornerback, but could use some depth and they still need that lock down player opposite of Delvin Breaux. This might come from within the current squad or in free agency, but there are some really good options in the draft, so a pick might be worth investing here.
This class is incredibly deep, so the Saints will have tons of options, but lets take a look of some of the best ones.
Desmond King, Iowa
King is known for his ball hawking abilities. He has had 13 interceptions over the last three years, but he is also great in man-to-man coverage. He can bump the receiver from the line of scrimmage and stay on him all the way down field. Furthermore he works really hard in the run game and has been one of the best tackling cornerbacks in the nation over the last several years.
Sidney Jones, Washington
Jones has been flying under the radar for some time now, but it looks like those times are over and for good reason. Jones has been playing absolutely incredible and has shown us all that he proves to be in the conversation for a first round draft pick. He has been great in coverage all year and has also got his hands on some balls with 2 interceptions and 6 passes defended. He should without a doubt be on the Saints radar in 2017.
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson
Here we have a big guy at 6-1 with excellent cover skills. Tankersley who many may not have known much about before this season, has actually been pretty great. Getting the starting spot at Clemson, he has 6 career interceptions along with 18 passes defended. More than solid for any player and especially one with his size. Tankersley is a solid player, who could turn into a great player in the future.