It’s well-known the New Orleans Saints had an incredible draft class out of the 2017 NFL Draft. It might, in fact, go down as one of the best draft classes of all time, producing both the Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year that year - the first time since the awards’ inception this was done.
The 2018 draft class was a little different to say the least. Instead of multiple impact starters like Marshon Lattimore, Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk, and Marcus Williams, not to mention solid pieces like Alex Anzalone and Trey Hendrickson, the 2018 NFL Draft did not provide the Saints with a single player to play all 16 games. This is part of the reason why ESPN, in re-grading the 2018 draft class (Insider Required), gave the New Orleans Saints a C, a downgrade from the C+ originally given.
A year after having one of the best instant-impact rookie classes ever, the Saints’ 2018 class didn’t come close to hitting that mark.
The good? The second-round pick they gave up in 2017 to move up for Alvin Kamara still looks great, even if I panned it at the time. We’ll count that here. Day 2 wideout Tre’Quan Smith showed off his potential, catching 28 passes with five touchdowns. Undrafted receiver Keith Kirkwood was a nice pickup -- he had three total touchdowns, including one in the playoffs.
The bad? Most everything else. I questioned trading up for raw pass-rusher Marcus Davenport at the time, and while he flashed, he didn’t make the huge impact needed to justify the haul of a 2019 first-round pick and a 2018 fifth-rounder. He should be a starter in 2019. The Saints also cut draft picks Natrell Jamerson, Kamrin Moore, Boston Scott and, most crucially, Rick Leonard, a fourth-rounder, before the season, which is a lot of wasted capital.
New Orleans almost got to the Super Bowl, but it didn’t get much of anything from its rookies and now doesn’t have a pick in Round 1 of the upcoming draft. Let’s see if Davenport & Co. can show their worth in Year 2.
It’s hard to argue too much with some of the statements there. It definitely hurt that the Saints seemingly swung and missed on all of the mid-round draft picks last year.
Hopefully Marcus Davenport has a healthy year and takes the massive step forward that we all know he’s capable of. Until then, this class still gets a massive “I” for “Incomplete.”
I will say it is a little odd for the grade to be dropped to a C if they truly are counting Alvin Kamara as a member of this draft class...