After a night of reflection, the verdict is still all over the place in regards to what the New Orleans Saints did on the first night of the NFL Draft. There have been some favorable takes with what the team accomplished by trading up to the 14th overall pick to take defensive end Marcus Davenport — getting a position that was a clear need for the team. However, the compensation part is where most confusion comes into play.
“We’re excited obviously. It was a player we had targeted and spent some time with, quite a bit of time with him. We didn’t know exactly at what point in the draft we felt he was going to be taken, specifically the first round,” Sean Payton told the media on Thursday night.
“Like every year, we would discuss who are the players that we would move forward for and he clearly for us was a guy that we felt strongly enough about. He fits a must position as well. We see him over at the right defensive end position. Compensation was fair.”
According to the draft chart formulas that Jimmy Johnson had developed back in the glorious football days of giant shoulder pads and such, the Packers won the trade with a higher advantage (1100 value for 14th compared to 680 value for 27th overall, 33 points for 147th overall, and a low value of 590 if you were to say it’s at least the 32nd overall pick for 2019). The 5th Rounder, while it has some value (or not really when it comes to the Saints), was the pick acquired in exchange for Stephone Anthony to the Dolphins. So, we’re really talking about the first round pick of next season.
The Saints showed us that they are very much in “win now” mode by acquiring Davenport, contrary to a growing belief that New Orleans needed to get their quarterback of the future.
On the vision for Davenport: “If he’s comfortable standing, he could play the same technique standing. I don’t think that will be a big transition. He is someone who is a real explosive, has great makeup and we’re excited about the vision for him. It’s pretty clear. He played some five technique at that game (Senior Bowl), which is a little bit more of a different position for him. But we see him as an edge player, a pressure player.”
On Frank Wilson and the UTSA’s coaching staff input: “The staff was very helpful in the evaluation. We lean on the college coaches. They were tremendous really helpful. Again the exposure to the Senior Bowl, he’s a real sharp guy and I think driven and focused and will be anxious to get started and I think his teammates here will see those traits.”
On the price given up: “When you look at the points on it you’re picking at 27. So let’s call it a first round pick, yet it’s pick 27. To truly do the full metrics of the value, you’d have to jump ahead next year to see what’s next year’s one. So, I think you’re constantly paying attention to the charts and teams in our league are on top of correct compensation. Periodically you see one that gets bumped out of whack. But this was one that was easy. These were the same questions last year one when we move our second round pick for Alvin Kamara. That appears to be, (a perception that you gave up) a lot and yet you know what’s our country’s national debt? However many billion dollars we’re talking about you know hopefully a late (first) round pick next year (is what was given up).”
While Payton deems Davenport a very raw prospect, the focus is all about getting another player to compliment Cameron Jordan.
“Yeah, I’m not interested in taking any heat off Cam. I’m interested in getting other players like Cam. One of the offseason targets was a pressure player and that might come as a guy who lines up inside, it might come from a player that lines up outside.”
Payton admitted that the Saints were trying to trade up by the 9th overall pick, but it really went into overhaul by the 10th pick. Payton added that Davenport has tremendous makeup and is very smart, and that the entire coaching staff is anxious work with a player of his caliber to maximize his potential. Defensive line coach, Ryan Nielsen, should help any shortcomings in Davenport’s game, and if you need a great example, see David Onyemata.