At the end of January, I gave you a few areas where I felt the New Orleans Saints needed to improve most during the offseason. While several were addressed during free agency, there are still some areas that might still need some attention. Before we get to the NFL Draft, let’s check on the offensive side of the ball to see the most pressing needs for the black and gold.
It’s interesting to see how many receivers the Saints were paired to (and still are, see one Dez Bryant). There was genuine interest in Jordy Nelson, but it looks like the Saints found their man in Cameron Meredith. Obviously, coming off a serious knee injury is a concern, but Meredith has only reassured fans that he should be good to go. New Orleans ended up bringing back Brandon Coleman, perhaps a precursor to Willie Snead’s departure.
Also on the roster for the moment is Austin Carr, Tommylee Lewis, Josh Huff, Paul Turner, and Travin Dural. Carr might be the most intriguing player entering the new season, and Michael Thomas needs little to no introduction as being the team’s top threat.
Outlook: The Dez Bryant situation is one to watch, but figuring out where he fits in the Saints offense is what I would be concerned about most. That would presumably give the Saints three possession receivers, while Ted Ginn Jr. would be their primary (and only) deep threat. Bryant could be a slot guy, and could pair well with an accurate passer like Drew Brees. The team could look to the draft to find some help here, especially for a more deep threat that can stretch the field like Ginn does.
The team lost backup Chase Daniel to the Chicago Bears, and after seeing his deal (2-year, $10 million with $7 million guaranteed), the Saints weren’t going to touch that. Instead, they brought in Tom Savage on a one-year deal for considerably less. Taysom Hill enters his second season with New Orleans going under center for training camp instead of playing special teams. That Drew Brees fellow is pretty good still from what we know.
Outlook: A new season, and the great debate ensues on whether or not the Saints should look at drafting a Drew Brees successor. My short answer? No. Savage is your primary backup to Brees, and the verdict is very much still out on what Hill’s future holds. With that being said, you could expect that the Saints will have at least four quarterbacks during training camp, but personally I’m not about drafting one. The narrative has been that a quarterback sitting behind Brees will learn so much. You might want to ask Garrett Grayson, a third-round pick from 2015, how that ended up. Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson have been some names thrown around as potential fits for New Orleans, but getting them at 27th seems both hard and a waste.
After being paired to Jimmy Graham and Austin Seferian-Jenkins in free agency, the Saints ended up reuniting with Ben Watson. Even being 37, Watson’s market for his services were in pretty good demand. He should help New Orleans move the chains better on 3rd down. Of course, the biggest question mark entering 2018 is the future of Coby Fleener.
Also in the mix is Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanwanaui, who are playing out the final years of their respective contracts. Garrett Griffin, who was on the active roster for a short time after being a practice squad, and Alex Ellis are simply watch and see players.
Outlook: The tight end prospects are plentiful and appealing in this draft, but my belief is 27th overall isn’t where you take one. The Saints aren’t a stranger to trading up, and if said prospect (whether you prefer a Hayden Hurst, Dallas Goedert, or Mike Gesicki) is available in the second round, then pull the trigger. Should the team draft one in the first or second round, then I think it tells us all we need to know about Fleener’s future and potential to be a post-June 1 cut.
The Other Spots
- Running Back: Perhaps you look at a later gem or undrafted rookie free agent that could eventually compliment Alvin Kamara, assuming Mark Ingram leaves. The team has Trey Edmunds, Jonathan Williams, and Daniel Lasco as a part of their depth. The biggest way onto the roster would be through special teams, and Edmunds has the leg up on everyone else.
- Fullback: Re-signing Zach Line was a good move for New Orleans, and the team is reportedly still interested in John Kuhn. The Saints will have at least two fullbacks in camp, and should Kuhn not be one, the need will be filled through an undrafted rookie.
- Offensive Line: The pressing need is getting a versatile replacement for Senio Kelemete. While I believe someone like Cameron Tom could offer a bit more in his second season, and is likely a good candidate to replace Max Unger at center at some point, the Saints need to get a definitive guy to come in and be the next Kelemete if one doesn’t present itself on the roster, which could come through the draft.
Which area of need do you find most pressing for the Saints to address during the draft?
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