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. Here are links to previous grades:
After the release of Safety Jairus Byrd this offseason, the New Orleans Saints lacked a true center fielder type Free Safety. Second year S Vonn Bell never profiled as the ballhawking player that Williams showed to be in college, but the presence of Bell, Vaccaro and the addition of Raphael Bush allow the Saints to take their time brining Williams into the defensive fold this season.
It was strange to still see the Saints skip addressing a pass rusher here again (a common theme, you’ll notice), and might have be a little bit of a reach. Many NFL draft big boards had Williams outside their Top 50. Overall, I’d have to say this pick is just around “average.”
Grade for the Williams pick: C+
We knew the Saints weren’t going to forego a skills player for the offensive side of the ball the entire draft, and we also know that Mickey Loomis and Co. have a penchant for trading up in the draft. The Saints were able to get knock out two birds with one stone in trading up for RB Alvin Kamara.
In a vacuum, this is a great pick for the Saints. Even after the signing of “All Day” Adrian Peterson, the Saints lack a true third down “scat” back behind Peterson and starter Mark Ingram. Unlike the Williams pick, there is huge value here with many pundits grading Williams as a Top 50 player overall that the Saints were able to snag at 67.
Pulling this grade down slightly are two things: 1) this is a luxury pick for the Saints whereby the defense might have been the proper unit to address here, and - more importantly - 2) the Saints gave up a 2018 2nd Round pick to move up and take Kamara here. Yes, the Saints hope their 2nd Round pick next year is a late pick in that round, but still, it wasn’t a cheap price to pay.
Grade for the Kamara pick: B
The later you get in the draft, the more risk you have to take to find potential NFL starters. Players that are “sure things” went in the first few picks. Players with high floors with throughout the first and into the early second round. Now come the players with potentially high ceilings, but carry concerns that dropped them lower down the rankings.
That’s a perfect example of what happened with Anzalone. Anzalone has the size, speed, and athleticism to be a three-down linebacker in the NFL, with the potential to be a Day One starter for the Saints. With a laundry list of injuries in college, he also has the potential to blow out his shoulder and never play a down in the NFL.
Anzalone has the talent and measurables to play either inside or outside linebacker, and now, along with Stephone Anthony, the Saints have two athletic, young LBs to try to foster as NFL starters. If Anzalone is able to stay healthy in his career, we could look back at this pick as one of the biggest steals in the draft.
Grade for the Anzalone pick: A-
Yay! The Saints finally got a defensive end and pass rusher!
Like Anzalone, Trey Hendrickson is a player with tons of potential but fell down draft boards with concerns outside of his control. Hendrickson was a standout Defensive End at Florida Atlantic, earning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in his senior still. Even still, Conference USA is a far cry from the NFL, and many draft experts were unsure how Hendrickson’s tape would translate to bigger and better competition.
It’s worth noting that DE Carl Lawson was (and is) still available, for the Saints to pass on Lawson and take Hendrickson (who seems to have higher upside than Hendrickson by a landslide) tells me two things: 1) Lawson’s medicals must have scared a lot of teams away, and 2) the Saints must have a lot more faith in LB-turned-DE Hau’oli Kikaha returning from injury than we previously believed.
Grade for the Hendrickson pick: A
Overall grade for Day 2: B+