The first thing we need to make known is that the Saints during Sean Payton’s tenure have moved up a whopping 13 times to draft a player they’ve targeted. In that same time span, they’ve only traded back a total of 3 times — and they haven’t done so since 2007.
So, what gives? Trading back and acquiring more tickets, err picks, gives you more chances to win the lottery, err draft, right?
In theory, yes. But going over the data gives hints that the decision could be risky depending on the perceived depth of the draft. Based on some thoughts that Deuce Windham has shoveled over to me, he feels as though there are roughly 28 first-round talents in this draft. Gil Brandt feels like there are even less quality or true first-round talents
• Quality of the draft: “This is a draft where 13 to 17 guys I could point to and say for sure, This guy’s a first-round pick. After that, there’s a lot of starting-type players who could go anywhere. Let me put it to you this way: My guy who I have 21st overall on my list could go 64th. The guy I rank 47th could go 19th. – Gil Brandt
Potentially, this suggests at a certain point in the 1st Round teams will be picking from guys that have holes in their games/boxes unchecked. This could bring individual value of teams/schemes more into focus, as one organization may have a guy as a second-rounder while another team might see him as a fourth-rounder based on fit.
So, if I am the Saints, who am I willing to trade up and get and at what point in the 2018 draft?
In the 1st Round, the answer to that is simple, Baker Mayfield. Even though Sean Payton didn’t list QB as a must (TE, WR, and Edge), the Saints were prepared to take Patrick Mahomes last year at 11th overall, so it goes without saying the importance level they’ve placed on that position.
Should the Saints remain at 27, I’ve heard rumblings that Leighton Vander Esch checks enough boxes for them to consider in that spot. The other week, Deuce went with an undersized SAM in Alabama’s Rashaan Evans, and while I see the fit (blitzing ability), I think he lacks the prototypical size/weight/speed the Saints have been looking for in comparison to Vander Esch.
If the above scenario takes place, then I’d look for them to package picks 91 and 127 to move back near the top 75 range and select a TE or pass rusher (depending on what you miss getting early). Fact of the matter is 3 of the 4 tight ends on the roster are on one-year deals, and the other in Coby Fleener could possibly be a June 1 cut, making it easy to see a selection at that position.
With the theft of Cameron Meredith from the Bears following the Ben Watson signing, the Saints have now scratched off two of the “musts” previously mentioned by Coach Payton, giving New Orleans even more flexibility to move around should they choose. Hold on to your seats, because things will certainly be exciting for Saints fans on April 26th, if not anything else.
As a small caveat and counter argument (if there are any Star Wars fans reading this), I’m going to provide you with a New Hope. Prior to 2015, it was argued that the Saints had never drafted an offensive lineman higher than the 2nd Round and had never drafted a linebacker higher than the 3rd Round. Andrus Peat and Stephone Anthony were both taken in the 1st Round of the NFL draft that year to hush that assumption, so it’s absolutely possible the stars could align for a trade back scenario.
There’s always a chance Lloyd....Always!
What player would you be most excited about the Saints ending up with on Day 1 of the draft?
This poll is closed
Baker Mayfield (QB)
Lamar Jackson (QB)
Dallas Goedert (TE)
Marcus Davenport (Edge)
Leighton Vander Esch (LB)
Rashaan Evans (LB)
Harold Landry (Edge)