To say the New Orleans Saints have a few positions to address this offseason is the understatement of the year. Rotoword recently released the biggest needs for each of the 32 NFL teams, and here's what they have to say about the Saints:
Defensive End: The 2015 Saints so lacked pass-rush talent that they started undrafted rookie Bobby Richardson at right end, then finished 27th in sacks (31). New Orleans' secondary isn't quite as bad as it's billed to be -- particularly if CB Keenan Lewis and promising slot corner Damian Swann return healthy -- but this is a team in severe need of disruptive bodies front.
It's hard to disagree here. As the Denver Broncos just showed in their Super Bowl 50 victory, a pass rush can make or break a defensive unit. With Cameron Jordan in place on one end, the Saints could definitely use a vicious pass rusher on the other side.
Linebacker: Whereas 2015 first-round pick Stephone Anthony should have a promising future in the middle, second-year SLB Hau'oli Kikaha was a liability as a rookie starter. The Saints began cleaning house in their otherwise overpriced, underperforming linebacker corps, cutting David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber shortly after the season. WLB Dannell Ellerbe would've been next to go before he accepted a pay cut. Poor linebacker play was a main reason Football Outsiders graded last year's Saints 27th against the run.
This is really a depth issue. With the cuts to Hawthorne and Humber, the Saints just really lack warm bodies at this position.
Tight End: Ben Watson enjoyed a late-career breakout season (74-825-6) in 2015, but he's 35 years old and ticketed for free agency. Michael Hoomanawanui's contract is also up, while No. 2 tight end Josh Hill is a restricted free agent. The Saints may be able to re-sign Watson on the cheap, but they need to begin thinking about the future at this position.
I personally liked what I saw in Michael Hoodmsdfkeid in limited snaps last season. It goes without saying that Benjamin Watson had an amazing season. I hope to see both brought back next season.
Wide Receiver: Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead established themselves as a respectable 1-2 punch at wideout, but declining Marques Colston figures to be cut and Brandon Coleman failed to capitalize on increased snaps. As Cooks (5'10/189) and Snead (5'11/195) are both size deficient, the Saints may prioritize a bigger receiver capable of winning contested catches. Guard is another need after the team released longtime RG Jahri Evans. Incumbent LGTim Lelito is a restricted free agent, and 2015 first-rounder Andrus Peat struggled badly inside.
This is a little more questionable. While the Saints could use more competition at this position, I don't believe it to be a more pressing need than Cornerback. Brandon Coleman took baby steps in 2015, and looks to take bigger strides heading into 2016. Cooks had the breakout year many expected, and Willie Snead erupted onto the scene as a great slot option for Drew Brees. With the impending release of Browner, the Saints have a hole at corner. While there are plenty of internal options to replace Browner (if they stay healthy), I see the need at Cornerback as a bigger issue than Wide Receiver. Maybe it's my faith in Drew Brees to help elevate an otherwise mediocre group of receivers, but without the pass rush as discussed above, the Saints NEED a lock-down Corner.
What do you think? What are the biggest needs YOU see for the Saints? Comment below. Send me presents.