Questions were answered for the New Orleans Saints after the 2020 NFL Draft. Ahead of the draft, Canal Street Chronicles took a look at five needs that needed to be addressed before the start of the 2020 season. Those needs were as follows: linebacker, cornerback, offensive line, quarterback and wide receiver.
New Orleans drafted a center in Cesar Ruiz, a linebacker in Zack Baun, tight end Adam Trautman and a toolsy quarterback in the form of Tommy Stevens. The Saints’ need at offensive line was answered with the selection of Ruiz in the first-round of the draft. While not addressed in the draft, quarterback is no longer a need after reports have surfaced that New Orleans is expected to sign former Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Jameis Winston. However, there are a few positions that still need to be addressed. Here is what remains for New Orleans.
Yes, the Saints drafted Baun. No, the need at linebacker has not been met. Baun represents a great value pick, and has a ton of upside. However, heading into a season where it’s Super Bowl or bust for Drew Brees and company, an unproven rookie linebacker doesn’t fill the “need”.
It is very likely Baun will develop into an athletic linebacker that will play a pivotal role in the linebacker corps in the future. But he does not project to be a three down back in 2020, something New Orleans needs in case Alex Anzalone, Kiko Alonso, or worst case scenario Demario Davis, go down with injury. Baun would be forced to play that type of role if an injury were to occur, a role a veteran player may be more suited to assume.
For most of the offseason the Saints have overlooked the cornerback position. Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins will spearhead the defensive attack on the outside. Behind them remain question marks. The Saints had the opportunity to address the corner position in the draft, but opted to take a center and linebacker with their first two picks.
Additional depth will be needed heading into the season, and New Orleans is known to bring in familiar faces. P.J. Williams and Patrick Robinson represent depth at the position, just as they have in recent seasons. But there is another option that is still looking for a job: Eli Apple. The former-Saint and Giant is once again looking for a job after his contract fell through with the Las Vegas Raiders. Apple represents a starting-caliber corner that is familiar with Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen’s defense. He could also be had for a relatively cheap, one-year “prove it” deal. That would help solidify one need for New Orleans.
While one half of the Saints fanbase was wanting the team to draft a top-end linebacker, the other half was lobbying for the drafting of one of the many wide receivers in the deep draft class. Instead, New Orleans decided that Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith would be enough to make the team a Super Bowl contender.
Thomas proved in 2019 that he can carry the offense, and the addition of Sanders makes the offense that much more prolific. However, Sanders is 33-years old, and is on a two-year deal. A young, talented receiver would have provided an immediate impact in 2020, and represented stability at the position in future seasons.