It’s time to start a brief series where we can look back on transactions, plays, or moments that, with the benefit of hindsight, helped the Saints in 2017. Whether it be a luck of the draw, a trade that fell through, or a move the Saints didn’t end up making despite reports, the Saints were the beneficiary of quite a bit of luck last year. While the Saints are currently making plans for life after Drew Brees, it almost wasn’t necessary. The Saints were close to drafting Patrick Mahomes with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
When the 10th overall pick on the clock with the Buffalo Bills, it was unlikely the Bills would draft a starting QB with the expensive Tyrod Taylor already penciled in as the starter. However, they did need a Cornerback, so they had the option of selecting Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore with that selection.
Instead, the Bills traded the 10th pick to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs went on to select Patrick Mahomes II out of Texas Tech as the long-term replacement to Alex Smith (who was traded to the Washington Redskins this offseason to clear the way for Mahomes as the 2018 starter). The Bills then selected their CB with the 27th overall pick in Tre’Davious White out of LSU after the Saints selected Lattimore with the 11th overall pick.
But, had the Chiefs not traded up for the 10th pick, it is likely the Bills select Lattimore with the 10th pick in the first round, leaving the Saints to go after their next best player on the board - Patrick Mahomes.
That means the Saints now have the heir-apparent to Drew Brees already on the roster, but they are still missing a CB. It is highly unlikely the Saints still pick Ryan Ramczyk at the end of the first round, and for pure speculation, let’s assume the Saints instead pick CB Kevin King out of Washington with the 32nd overall pick (who went to the Packers the pick immediately following the selection of Ramczyk). King played in only nine games for the Green Bay Packers, starting only five. But this isn’t about Ramczyk or the replacement of Lattimore by itself, but rather how would the Saints look in 2017 and beyond with Mahomes on the team?
Mahomes didn’t start a game for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017 until the Chiefs had already locked up their 2017 season. Mahomes started one game, passing for 284 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
With the Saints, it’s likely that Mahomes also plays a similar role for New Orleans in 2017. Without Lattimore, the Saints defense doesn’t take its noticeable steps forward and the team is unlikely to rattle off a nine game winning streak. The Saints are likely to fall into another mediocre season, missing the postseason for another lost season. Drew Brees fails to feel rejuvenated in New Orleans and the Saints, like the Chiefs, probably tab Mahomes as their long-term starter beginning in 2018.
So the Saints are likely to miss the playoffs in 2017 and they have a same-ole-song-and-dance defense in 2018 led at QB by Mahomes instead of Brees. And while Mahomes can very well become a Hall of Famer in his own right, he can only hope to be what Drew Brees already is. So just because the Chiefs jumped the Saints to select Mahomes 10th overall, the Saints had a better 2017 season than they could have with Mahomes, and also (strangely) do not have quite as bright a future for 2018 and beyond.
They didn’t get their QB of the future in the 2017 NFL Draft, but that’s not to say they won’t this year or the next.