Make sure you check back for grades of each upcoming day in the NFL Draft, as well as a final draft “report card” recapping all of the grades and assigning an overall grade to all of the Saints picks.
After a trade with the New England Patriots failed to come through before draft day to land Malcolm Butler, the Saints were still able to address the Cornerback position in the first round.
Lattimore is a consensus Top 10 pick and top CB prospect in this year’s draft class. While injury history (he’s dealt with nagging hamstring issues) is a potential concern, Lattimore is a Day One starter for the Saints with the potential to be a shutdown Corner even in his rookie year.
Some of the biggest knocks on Butler were his measureables - his size and speed. Yes, Butler played the ball well in space and was physical in press coverage at the line, but he didn’t have the speed to keep to keep up with elusive wide receivers or the size to go up and get contested balls on taller pass-catchers. Lattimore addresses those issues, being two inches taller and running an insane 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine, tops of all Cornerbacks this year, and significantly faster than Butler’s 4.62. Lattimore showed his athleticism at the combine, topping out all Cornerbacks in 40 time, but also in both the broad jump and vertical jump.
The Saints grabbed a younger, cheaper, and more athletic cornerback than Malcolm Butler significantly later than most mock drafts had him going off the board. It’s a huge coup for the Saints.
Grade for the Lattimore pick: A+
Coming into the 2017 NFL Draft, the Saints had plenty of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, but also had questions on the offensive line. With Zach Strief’s long-term NFL future in question, the Saints were able to shore up an offensive line (that now is not only protecting QB Drew Brees, but also setting up holes for both Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson).
Strief is 33, and Armstead hasn't played 16 games in a season yet. Depth is important, especially at OT. https://t.co/XcGEVTVvYg— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) April 28, 2017
Many draft boards, including SB Nation, had Ramczyk as the top offensive lineman in this year’s draft class and a Top 20 player overall. This represents a huge bargain for the Saints at 32.
While the Saints again chose to ignore the need to add a pass rusher for at least another pick, there are still plenty of interesting names available the Saints could be looking at when they’re on the clock again in the 2nd Round. Because of the possibility, though, that those “interesting” names could all be gone before the 42nd pick, this pick is just short of an “A” grade.
Grade for the Ramczyk pick: B
So overall the Saints were able to get one Top 10 player and one Top 20 player out of picks #11 and #32, with both players fitting needs for the 2017 team and beyond.
If the Saints are able to add a pass rusher in the 2nd Round at the same kind of value they’ve been able to find thus far, it will be a huge win for the team. Doing so will also allow Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton to have fun with offensive skills player picks later in the draft.