Grades keep coming in for the 2019 NFL Draft. Next up is Mel Kiper of ESPN, and to say he wasn’t too fond of the New Orleans Saints’ 2019 draft class might be putting it mildly. He recently released his grades for each of the 32 teams in the NFL (Insider required), and for the New Orleans Saints, he gave a C+:
Top needs: Wide receiver, offensive line, cornerback
The Saints just do things a little bit differently than the other 31 teams. That has worked out OK the last few years -- they were this close to a Super Bowl LIII berth last season. A quick recap of how GM Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton have used future assets in trades the past three drafts:
2017: Dealt a 2018 second-round pick to move up to draft running back Alvin Kamara.
2018: Dealt a 2019 first-round pick to move up to draft defensive end Marcus Davenport.
2019: Dealt a 2020 second-round pick to move up to draft center Erik McCoy.
We know these moves are done to try to maximize the the tail end of 40-year-old Drew Brees’ career, of course, but you have to wonder what happens if New Orleans slips. It could be in cap hell without much in future assets. The team is also missing its third-round pick this year because of the trade for Teddy Bridgewater.
McCoy is my top-ranked center, and Payton said that’s where the Saints plan to play him. Now, where does free-agent signing Nick Easton play? Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (No. 105), who could play some nickelback, might be a Day 3 steal. He was No. 58 overall on my board. Alize Mack (No. 231) is worth a seventh-round flier as an intriguing tight end.
Ultimately, this is a team trying to maximize a Super Bowl window not just before the Brees timeline hits a wall, but with possible monster deals for Michael Thomas and Cameron Jordan on the horizon.
In case you’re curious, across the NFC South, Kiper gave the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each a C+ and the Atlanta Falcons a B, best in the division.
But can we really trust what this talking head has to say anyway? He’s the same guy that gave the 2017 Saints draft class (the class that produced the offensive and defensive rookies of the year, plus starters like Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams, and Alex Anzalone) just a B grade.