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Grading the New Orleans Saints 2018 Draft Choices

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Taking a look at this year's New Orleans Saints draft picks.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The seemingly endless amount of mock drafts and expert opinions can now be put to rest. The New Orleans Saints made seven draft picks over the 7-round/3-day draft event this past weekend. Let's have a look at who they took, and how each pick could impact the franchise.

ROUND 1 (pick #14 overall)

Marcus Davenport, DE (UTSA)

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Texas-San Antonio Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints traded their 1st round pick this year (27th overall), a 5th round pick, and next year's 1st round pick to Green Bay in order to move up to the Packers' number 14 spot to select Davenport, generally considered to be the second best edge rusher in this draft. Davenport showed vast improvement in each of his four seasons with the Roadrunners, finishing his career with 21.5 sacks, 37.5 tackles for loss, and 6 fumbles forced. He solidified his status as a first round pick during postseason workouts and a standout senior season of 8.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. Davenport has good speed to power conversion when rushing the passer, sets the edge effectively, and has good lateral quickness along the line. He is a bit tight-hipped, and has been more of a straight line rusher, using his strength advantage. Although still a bit raw, Davenport's rapid improvement throughout college and natural physical skills give him the look of an every down potential impact defender.

WHY THE SAINTS DRAFTED HIM:

This year's draft class was considered weak at the edge rush position. Coach Sean Payton outlined the team's need to add a pressure player for the defense all through the offseason. As he typically will, Payton identified the player he wanted, and aggressively moved to get him. A first round pick is a steep price to pay for a player, particularly an unproven rookie, but New Orleans believes that Davenport could be one of the final pieces for a championship run. If that turns out to be true, then what would turn out to be the 32nd pick in next year's draft is a fee well spent.

Draft Grade = B+

ROUND 3 (pick #91 overall)

Tre'quan Smith, WR (Central Florida)

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Auburn v Central Florida Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Saints made Smith the 10th receiver taken. He was a productive wideout for Central Florida that has all the ideal measurables for the NFL. He has good size, excellent catch radius, as well as above average speed and athleticism. He needs to learn how to use his size to his advantage better, and must be able to improve his ability in traffic, but tracks the deep pass well and makes good adjustments to the ball in mid-air.

WHY THE SAINTS DRAFTED HIM:

The New Orleans receiving corps struggled last year, outside of superstar wideout Michael Thomas. The Saints converted only 37.6% of their 3rd downs last year, ranking just 19th in the league. Nearly 78% of Smith's catches went for 1st downs in 2017, and he has the physical traits to be a solid professional wideout on intermediate routes with downfield ability.

DRAFT GRADE = B-

ROUND 4 (#127 overall)

Rick Leonard, OT (Florida St.)

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Leonard was perhaps the most puzzling of any New Orleans selection, even enraging to some. A converted defensive end, he played just two seasons on the offensive line for the Seminoles. He gets out of his stance rapidly, and does have quick feet and decent athletic ability along with good hand placement. Leonard's athleticism allows him to get to the second level of the defense effectively, which was a strength of the New Orleans line a year ago. A project, to be sure, but one with the raw ability to develop.

WHY THE SAINTS DRAFTED HIM:

Saints tackle Terron Armstead has struggled with injuries in recent years, and the team lost veteran Zach Strief and the versatile Senio Kelemete this past offseason. Leonard's athletic ability for a tackle fits right in with the team's scheme, with the potential to develop into a solid NFL lineman.

DRAFT GRADE = D

ROUND 5 (#164 overall)

Natrell Jamerson, S (Wisconsin)

Capital One Orange Bowl - Miami v Wisconsin Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Jamerson is considered one of the best special teams players of anyone in the draft. He is an outstanding gunner on punt and kick coverage teams, and has extremely dangerous potential as a kick returner. He averaged almost 23 yards per return with a touchdown over his sophomore and junior seasons. Jamerson began his career with the Badgers as a receiver, converting to defensive back as a Sophomore. He projects as a safety, but has solid man-to-man coverage ability in the slot. He is a good open field tackler, but his smallish size for a safety can be a detriment. He has a sudden burst and instant acceleration, as well as good range on the back end. Jamerson possesses good natural instincts for a defensive back, despite his inexperience,

WHY THE SAINTS DRAFTED HIM:

Jamerson looks to be an instant impact player for the Saints special teams units. He should also be a factor in the secondary, showing good range, solid instincts, and the potential to be an effective blitzer.

DRAFT GRADE = B

ROUND 6 (#189 overall)

Kamrin Moore, CB (Boston College)

Notre Dame v Boston College Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Moore was an effective off the ball defensive back for the Eagles. He is a good tackler, and fights for every pass against him. He could be an effective slot corner in the pros, and shows good pattern recognition and reaction to plays around him to be a solid zone defender.

WHY THE SAINTS DRAFTED HIM:

Moore is another pick that will need to make his mark on special teams. He is an effective gunner on coverage units, and an aggressive tackler in the secondary. He will be best utilized in zone coverage schemes, where his tackling fundamentals and ability to react to the deep balls can be most effective.

DRAFT GRADE = C-

ROUND 6 (#201 overall)

Boston Scott, RB (Louisiana Tech)

DXL Frisco Bowl - Louisiana Tech v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Scott was a productive featured back for the Bulldogs in 2017 after a solid complimentary role the previous season. Despite his diminutive size, he runs with underrated power to go along with good elusiveness. Despite not being called upon often as a receiver or as a returner, Scott showed flashes of being solid in both areas.

WHY THE SAINTS DRAFTED HIM:

New Orleans has had success with late round and undrafted running backs during Sean Payton's tenure. Scott will likely need to make this team by showing himself to be a threat as a kick returner, but he has shown good open field running abilities to give him a shot.

DRAFT GRADE = C-

ROUND 7 (#245 overall)

Will Clapp, C/G (L.S.U.)

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Clapp is only the second L.S.U. player to be drafted by Sean Payton during his time as Saints head coach. He has the versatility to play any of the interior line positions. Clapp is at his best at in-line blocking combinations in a zone blocking scheme. He's a low ceiling type prospect that will forge a pro career due to his versatility to play in any type of scheme.

WHY THE SAINTS DRAFTED HIM:

Clapp is the stereotypical Saints reserve lineman; an intelligent technician who can play multiple positions.

DRAFT GRADE = C+

The New Orleans Saints nabbed the pressure defender that they coveted in the first round. They added a pass catcher among a closely grouped number of receivers, though opinions vary on the specific player. The many predictions that they would draft a tight end went unfilled, but they obviously feel confident in their re-signing of veteran Ben Watson. The Leonard pick seems to be a head scratcher, but the Saints added needed depth along the offensive line with he and Clapp. The selections of Jamerson, Moore, and Scott look like they were made mainly for special teams impact, though Jamerson should be a factor at defensive back. The Saints have had wildly successful drafts over the last two offseasons, shaping a roster that returned to the playoffs after a three year absence. Will this draft provide the pieces that they need to take the next step towards another championship?

Overall Draft Grade = C

Poll

How would you grade the 2018 New Orleans Saints draft?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    A
    (61 votes)
  • 10%
    B+
    (157 votes)
  • 22%
    B
    (350 votes)
  • 22%
    B-
    (340 votes)
  • 14%
    C+
    (224 votes)
  • 10%
    C
    (154 votes)
  • 9%
    C-
    (141 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (72 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (39 votes)
1538 votes total Vote Now