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2016 NFL Draft Grades: Saints Grade Falls With "C-" Day Two

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Day 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft was more eventful, but not necessarily more beneficial to the long-term future of the New Orleans Saints.

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I give the New Orleans Saints a "C-" (and, to me, that is being generous) for Day 2, rounds two and three, of the 2016 NFL Draft. This grade is collective, not for either pick individually, and viewing the entire day holistically rather than in parts. That means, I am looking at: 1) the players the Saints drafted, 2) the needs the Saints filled, 3) the needs now left to be addressed, and 4) the means with which to fill those remaining needs.

To start the Saints selections on Day 2, the New Orleans Saints picked Ohio State Wide Receiver Michael Thomas. At the time, I could fathom the pick. I wasn't a huge fan, but I understood that Mickey Loomis and Co. couldn't forego the entire early rounds without grabbing an offensive weapon for Drew Brees. I also believe the pick itself to be a good value selection as Thomas has the tools to have potentially been selected in the first round. I understand that the departure of Marques Colston left a void for the New Orleans Saints to fill, and that the success of the New Orleans Saints (at least for 2016) lives and dies with the arm of QB Drew Brees.

That being said, I was disappointed the Saints chose not to add one of the top offensive lineman that were still available in the second rounds. Yes, another weapon for Drew Brees would be great, but that weapon is rendered less effective if Drew Brees is forced to make rushed throws or (heaven-forbid) spends most of the game sacked, on his back. "Surely, they'll grab a Guard in the third round," I thought.

"Surely," I was wrong again. The New Orleans Saints then traded their third and fourth round picks to the New England Patriots to jump back into the second round. Remember: the only thing keeping my Day 1 grade from being an "A+" was that the Saints didn't trade DOWN. Now they were trading UP? "OK. Fine. They are now realizing the error of their ways and will select the best offensive lineman available here." Nope. Enter fellow Ohio State Buckeye, Safety Vonn Bell.

Ummmm, what? Again, I understand some of the rationale. The Saints are able to draft Rafael Bush's replacement and the long-term replacement for S Jarius Byrd. Really, I get that. But Safety? Over Guard? And over Linebacker or Defensive End? I can get drafting ahead of Cornerback with the hopes that the Cornerbacks on the roster can get and stay healthy, but the Saints needs warm bodies (at minimum) on the offensive line, and could still stand to upgrade the defense's front seven. This pick, in a vacuum, I was not happy with at all, even with an understanding of the talent Bell possesses.

Then, you look at the Bell pick outside the vacuum. The Saints didn't draft a Guard earlier in the second round, and STILL chose to ignore that hole later in Round 2. The Saints then TRADED UP to get a Safety (which, while a need, is not nearly as pressing as Defensive End/Linebacker or Guard), losing a draft pick in the process. It's also important to note that the Saints traded up (losing a draft pick) to move up 17 spaces in the draft order. The Saints now only having two draft picks remaining, with needs at Guard, Linebacker, Defensive End, Cornerback, and Kicker.

Don't give me the "Well, the Saints are good at finding late round premium talents on the offensive line" garbage. Yes, the Saints have struck gold in the later rounds with offensive lineman, but to bank on that happening consistently is just silly and naive. Do you see people talking about how the Saints can just wait until the 7th round to draft wide receivers since the Saints have had success doing that too? For every Marques Colston star there's a Nick Toon dud that never pans out. The Saints cannot afford to gamble on finding TWO quality Guards on the offensive line with undrafted free agents. Typically, if a player goes undrafted, it was for a reason.

Bottom line: the Saints added a quality offensive weapon in Thomas and paid a steep price in Bell, with both being luxuries the Saints just cannot afford. Thomas might be the next Colston. Bell might be the next Byrd (circa Buffalo Bills version). We might look back on both of these picks as the steal(s) of the draft in years to come. However, right now, the Saints can't afford the next Colston or Byrd until they find the next Jahri Evans (or even the next Will Smith).