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Saints could find some boom in Giants draft busts

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Ereck Flowers and Eli Apple haven’t worked out in the Big Apple. Could New Orleans salvage their reeling talents?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) fights to catch a pass against New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple (24) during the second half at MetLife Stadium.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) fights to catch a pass against New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple (24) during the second half at MetLife Stadium.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The New York Giants are going full-steam ahead towards wasting the second-overall pick in the draft on a running back, but this story isn’t about the awful contract ramifications and misuse of resources that move would embody - no matter how cool Saquon Barkley would look in Big Blue. The Giants have been mismanaged for several years now, and that’s something the New Orleans Saints could stand to gain from.

New York’s draft flops are most clear in their first round picks in the 2015 and 2016 NFL Drafts: offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and cornerback Eli Apple. Both of those players are on the way out in NYC, and either of them could potentially turn things around in New Orleans if they came at the right place.

The Giants overpaid Nate Solder to get Flowers out of the left tackle spot, making Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the game despite having never made even a Pro Bowl selection. They’ve since informed Flowers that he’ll be moving to the right tackle spot, but Flowers has abstained from voluntary workouts and the Giants front office, headed by general manager Dave Gettleman - fired a few months ago by the Carolina Panthers - thinks they could recoup some draft capital.

I want to be very clear: I don’t think Flowers is good, much-less worth sacrificing any meaningful assets to get. We’re talking about moving some of the Saints’ five picks in the last three rounds at best. Here he is missing three blocks on one rep against the Kansas City Chiefs last year:

It’s clear that Flowers isn’t playing with confidence and is lost out there. The Giants have undergone some deep spring cleaning this year, revamping the front office and coaching staff, and Flowers likely needs a fresh start as badly as the Giants do, if not moreso.

Contrast that with the Saints, who have a very good coaching staff. Offensive line coach Dan Roushar has especially done a great job, trotting out a variety of combinations after injuries hit early in the season; Roushar found ways to win with four different combinations in the first seven weeks. He could definitely make the most out of Flowers, if there’s anything left there at all. With Zach Strief’s retirement and Senio Kelemete’s free agency exodus in the rearview, the Saints need to explore all avenues in pursuit of offensive line depth. The Jermon Bushrod comeback tour is not inspiring.

On the other side of the ball, Giants third-year corner Eli Apple is coming off the heels of a bizarre family drama involving a coup by his mother against his stepfather and siblings. Unlike Flowers, Apple reported to spring training with a “clean slate” mentality and made-up with team leader Landon Collins, who had been critical of Apple’s immaturity last season.

Still, the potential for change is there. The Giants are rolling out an entirely-new coaching staff and defensive philosophy, and Apple may not fit what they’re looking for. Reuniting Apple with his Ohio State Buckeyes teammates Marshon Lattimore, Vonn Bell, and Michael Thomas could be just what he needs to overcome whatever personal problems may still plague him. Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn has done an awesome job fielding a competitive unit with just one highly-drafted asset (Lattimore) among them. Maybe he can help Apple get right, too.

The Saints are far from set at cornerback, even with Lattimore, Ken Crawley, and P.J. Williams returning and Patrick Robinson back in the fold as a slot coverage specialist. As last year’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams without Lattimore and Crawley demonstrated, you can never have enough corners. Apple won’t turn 23-years old until August and has a contract running through 2019, with a team option in 2020. I’d much prefer him compete with Arthur Maulet and any rookies the Saints add than De’Vante Harris for the fifth cornerback spot.

So let’s say the Giants make it known this Saturday afternoon that Apple or Flowers could be had in exchange for a sixth- or seventh-round draft pick. Imagine that the Saints are content with their early-round selections and are already starting to make recruiting calls to prioritized free agents. I’d be all about them taking up Apple or Flowers for reclamation projects over the summer.