We continue a series that will likely span the length of the entire New Orleans Saints offseason where we look a key questions the Saints will face at various points of the year - the 2017 NFL Draft, free agency, and the 2017 regular season. We turn to a question Saints fans ask every year: Will the Saints finally trade down (or even just stand pat) in the NFL Draft?
New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis loves making trades on draft day. Since Loomis came to New Orleans in 2002, he has made five trades on draft day involving first round picks - each time the Saints moved up in the first round. In fact, the last time the Saints traded down in the Draft was in 2007, when they moved down a measly 8 spots from #58 overall to #66, for an extra 5th Round Pick.
Since that trade in 2007, the Saints have made 13 draft day trades, including last year (moving back up to select S Vonn Bell in the second round). Of those 13 trades, they have never traded down. Granted, trading down was a staple of Loomis’s draft strategy during the first few years of his time in New Orleans, but it almost seems like a foregone conclusion that trading down is just never an option. Fun fact: the Saints have had the fewest draft selections of any team in the NFL since 2009.
In years past, trading down seemed like the wise choice. Even as recently as last year, the Saints had too many holes and not enough resources to fill them. They had relatively little cap space (especially after signing TE Coby Fleener) and obviously a limited number of draft picks. It sounded like a logical plan for the Saints to trade down and acquire more picks to try to fill as many holes as possible. This hypothetical never materialized.
This year, the Saints have more cap space than they have had in years and a free agent pool that is pretty deep at a lot of positions of needs for the Saints (including Guard and Cornerback). That means the Saints actually don’t need to acquire more picks to fill their voids. In fact, with an aging Drew Brees, the Saints are clearly in win-now mode, and can - for once - afford to trade up in the draft and select the best possible players to fit their needs.
So what could you see the Saints doing? What players would you like to see the Saints trade back up and grab in this year’s draft? If the Saints trade up this year, it might be the first year it actually is the smart play. That being said, that means it’s almost certainly not going to happen now. The Saints will either stand pat or trade down just to throw everyone a curve ball.