We’re little more than a week out from the 2018 NFL Draft, so analysts around the football world are struggling to finish strong with more content. That’s not a problem when covering the New Orleans Saints, as you can always count on ESPN’s Bill Barnwell to make some ill-advised suggestion.
Barnwell writes an all-trades mock draft every year, which is a fun enterprise in its own right. But his proposals for the Saints aren’t exactly enticing. We’ll start with his first suggestion:
Saints get: 1-11; 7-229
Let’s get one more trade up for a quarterback in here before the Bills pick at 12. Just as no one saw the Chiefs coming up from the bottom of the first round to trade for a quarterback until they moved up to draft Mahomes last year, the Saints are quietly looking around at this year’s crop of quarterbacks to see whether there’s somebody who can fill Drew Brees’ shoes in the near future. The most similar quarterback in this class to Brees is Mayfield, and indeed, Sean Payton set up a private workout with Mayfield before the draft.
Mayfield obviously wouldn’t be playing until 2019 at the earliest, but the Saints would be preparing for life after Brees in advance of their Hall of Fame passer retiring or losing significant effectiveness. The Dolphins could use the extra first-round pick, and they’ll pick up a starting tight end in the process by acquiring Hill, who is entering the final year of his deal in New Orleans.
So in this scenario the Saints bag their quarterback of the future in Baker Mayfield. That’s cool, because he’s one of the best prospects in this year’s draft class (right up there with Lamar Jackson). And spending just two first round picks (this year’s and next year’s) to get him is a bargain. It’s worth noting that the private workout Barnwell cites was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts.
But I don’t understand the Saints jettisoning Josh Hill for pennies, netting one of the last selections in this year’s draft. They are already wanting for tight end help despite bringing Benjamin Watson back in free agency, so getting weaker at that position for next-to-nothing is puzzling at best.
Now, let’s dive into Barnwell’s really dumb idea:
Saints get: 2-38; 2019 second-round pick
Buccaneers get: 1-27; 2019 fourth-round pick
Any team that falls in love with a back like Derrius Guice has to be worried about the Steelers at 28, given the likelihood that this will be Bell’s last season in Pittsburgh. (More on that in a second.) Teams drafting at the top of the second round might wait for a running back to fall to them, but as we saw with players like Jerick McKinnon this offseason, organizations have a habit of falling for very specific skill-position weapons.
The Buccaneers don’t have much at halfback after moving on from Doug Martin, so it seems extremely likely that Tampa will come away from this draft with a new starter at running back. That guy could be Barkley at No. 7, but if the Bucs use that pick to address their defense, Tampa could move back up and take a running back at 27.
Okay, so the Saints trading out of the first round to get more picks would be great. I actually talked about this situation (with Guice in mind as trade-bait) just a few days ago. But there’s a couple of serious problems:
- Why would the Saints help a division rival trade up for a player who will specifically attack the weakness of their defense (the linebackers)?
- Why are the Saints not getting any assets in 2018 beyond the Bucs’ second round pick?
- Why are the Saints giving up any assets (a 2019 fourth-round pick) to move back?
Basically, Barnwell is suggesting the Saints move back 11 spots in the 2018 draft and give away a mid-round selection in 2019 to get to do it. It’s a no for me, man. That dog won’t hunt.