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Saints 2020 draft class recap

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The Saints ended up with some of the best at their positions.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the 2020 NFL Draft is officially in the rear-view mirror, let’s look back at the entire draft class as a whole.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

With their original selection in the first round, the New Orleans Saints selected OL Cesar Ruiz out of the University of Michigan. From our pals over at Maize n Brew:

Strengths

Has the perfect combination of strength and athleticism and moves crisply and with ease

His ability to anchor and stay balanced are impressive and competes through the whistle against who he is assigned to take out

Little-to-no wasted movement in his pulls and footwork is extremely strong

Provides versatility with the ability to slide over to guard or center with ease, three-years of starting experience at Michigan

Pro Football Focus graded him as the best pass blocking center in the country this past season

Packs a really compact, tight punch off the snap

Had some non-ideal weight on his frame, but slimmed down over 10 pounds and measured in at 307 at the NFL Combine. Michigan had him at 319 pounds on the 2019 roster.

Weaknesses

His body build is compact and his arm length has been mentioned by scouts as something that might hold him back. This affects his ability to reach across and get to a target that is not lined up directly across from him.

Nearly everyone at the next level is big and athletic, so he will have to develop and sharpen some of the finer points of his game to succeed in the NFL.

Sometimes he gets a little bout of happy feet in pass protection.

Bull rushers and physical, twitchy specimens on the defensive line are going to to take some time to adjust to.

As the mock draft season went on, Ruiz began shooting up draft boards as, not only a Day 1 prospect, but the best interior offensive lineman in the draft. A great value play with the 24th pick for the Saints.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Wisconsin Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Instead of waiting for the 88th overall pick, the Saints then traded up in the third round, the Saints traded up to get Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun with the 10th pick in round three.

From our pals at Bucky’s 5th Quarter:

Strengths

Baun is a very fluid athlete for the linebacker position. Good size for an off-ball linebacker. Shows the ability to set the edge on the front side of run plays, but is most effective knifing through the backside of zone runs. Developed repertoire of pass rush moves, and exhibits a pass rush plan. Has shown the ability to drop in zone coverage. Has also shown the ability to stick with backs out of the backfield.

Weaknesses

Likely will have to switch positions in the NFL. Little to no experience (Senior Bowl) playing as an off-ball linebacker. Doesn’t have elite twitch or explosiveness to threaten NFL offensive tackles. Will be undersized in those situations.

Despite the Saints trading up in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft to grab Baun, NFL.com had him listed as a possible round one candidate.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints then traded up again, sending their remaining 2020 draft picks to the Minnesota Vikings to grab Dayton tight end Adam Trautman later in the third round.

From NFL.com’s draft profile:

Strengths

Heavily targeted and highly productive

Presents big target for his quarterback

Gets to top speed quickly for a big tight end

Frame and demeanor to fight through draping coverage

Stems defenders out of his route breaks and accelerates out of breaks

Uses body positioning to create late catch space

Toughness to consistently catch through contact

Ball adjustments come naturally to him

Former hooper with timing to win high-point catches

Weaknesses

  • benefited from physical mismatches against his competition level
  • Allowed to run wild with loads of free releases
  • Step counter who ran limited route tree
  • Nothing special after the catch
  • Gears down motor once initial route bears no fruit
  • Awkward three-point impedes power potential firing into contact
  • Initial movements as run blocker out of stance are manic
  • Will need to correct hand placement at the point of attack

Many mock drafts had Trautman going off the board as early as round two, with some - including our own Ross Jackson - having Trautman as the top tight end in this year’s class.

NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-Mississippi State vs Louisville Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

But just when you thought the team was done after trading away their remaining 2020 draft picks, the Saints traded a 2021 6th round pick to jump in front of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 7th round and select Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens 240th overall.

The Saints clearly must have gotten wind another team - Tampa, possibly? - was going to draft Stevens and the Saints didn’t want to miss out on their chance to grab him as a UDFA. Instead, the Saints jumped into the 7th round to grab a player who, even by his own accounts, could be the next Taysom Hill.


What do you think of the the 2020 New Orleans Saints draft class?

Going by positions, the Saints grabbed the top interior offensive lineman, one of the best edge linebackers, one of the top tight ends, and the top QB/HB/Taysom hybrid. Not bad.

Now that you see them all laid out together, do you feel better about the moves? Let me know in the comments. Send me presents.