The New Orleans Saints saw their season come to an end after being defeated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional round. With another heartbreaker on the books, most fans are now turning their eyes towards the future, and that starts with the 2021 NFL Draft.
This upcoming season will be a unique one for the Saints as we have talked about extensively on this site for the past few weeks. Between potential retirements, a smaller salary cap and potential new blood, this franchise could have a different look and feel to it in 2021. Some of that change could start with this year’s NFL Draft.
New Orleans currently holds the 28th pick in the draft. We thought it pertinent to look back at each player drafted in that position over the course of the last five years to see what the quality of player could be taken at that stage.
2020: Patrick Queen, LB
Queen, an LSU product, was one player that had been on the majority of the media’s mock draft boards of going to New Orleans. Instead, the Saints passed on the linebacker and selected Cesar Ruiz instead. As such, Queen fell to the Baltimore Ravens who snatched him up and put him to work right away.
As a rookie Queen started all 16 games and played 80% of the season’s defensive snaps. Queen recorded 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and recoveries, a touchdown and 3 sacks. His rookie performance was good enough to land him among the candidates for Rookie Defensive Player of the Year consideration. If the Saints draft a quality player like Queen with this year’s 28th pick, then you can chalk that up as a successful draft.
2019: Jerry Tillery , DT
Tillery was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019, but unlike Queen he wasn’t an immediate impact player. In 2019, Tillery started just three games but was able to record two sacks despite just playing 36% of the team’s defensive snaps. However, his sophomore campaign in 2020 was much better as he played in all 16 games and started in 11 of them.
Tillery started as a depth piece and is now turning into a role player. Tillery was given a grade of 43.9 by Pro Football Focus (PFF) which is below average for his position. Tillery hasn’t transformed into the game-changing player he was hoped to be when picked in the late first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Some players are late bloomers and take time to develop, after all, 2020 was his first season he was routinely utilized.
2018: Terrell Edmunds, S
Edmunds is the exact type of player a team hopes to draft at the 28th position. He was an immediate impact player his rookie year, and has only gotten better. His 2020 PFF grade of 70.9 is above average for his position and that grade has only climbed since his entrance into the league. Additionally, over the course of the last three seasons Edmunds has missed just one game, his availability and durability have made him a keystone in the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary.
Unfortunately for Edmunds, his fifth-year option is coming due, and Minkah Fitzpatrick is also a starting safety for the Steelers. According to Steelers Depot, it seems Fitzpatrick is keen on having a long-term partnership with Edmunds, but due to the salary cap reduction, Pittsburgh may be forced to pick between the two.
Regardless of the outcome, Edmunds has proved he can be a game-changer and hold his own in a secondary that also features one of the best safeties in the league. Not a bad pick by the Steelers with their 2018 28th pick.
2017: Taco Charlton, DE
Charlton was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2017 and never flourished into the household name they had hoped for. Charlton has switched teams twice, once when he was waived by the Cowboys in 2019 and was acquired by the Miami Dolphins, and then again when he signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Charlton has started just 12 games in his career signaling he is merely a depth player. Additionally, he has never seen a snap count percentage of higher than 39% in any season, and just 8% this season with the Chiefs. However, he remains in the league because he makes the most of those opportunities as he has 11 career sacks, five of which came last season with the Dolphins.
It is possible that Charlton hitched his wagon to the right horse and could end up with a Super Bowl ring after this weekend. However, he never became the player that the Cowboys were hoping he would become with the 28th pick of the 2017 draft.
2016: Joshua Garnett, G
What a tough career for Garnett. As a rookie with the San Francisco 49ers Garnett started in 11 games on the offensive line and had a decent season. He was given a grade of 61.5 by PFF, just about average for his career. But, everything went downhill from there. He has bounced around teams such as the Detroit Lions and the Washington Football Team. Garnett has always been shuttled between the practice squad and active roster for much of 2020.
In five seasons, Garnett has started just 11 games, not the type of production a team would hope for from a former 28th pick in the NFL Draft. Unfortunately for the player, Garnett is now expected to announce his retirement this offseason, just five years after being picked in the first-round. It goes without saying that of all the players on this list, you have to hope New Orleans avoids drafting a player with the future Garnett experienced.
Who do you want the Saints to draft with the 28th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @KadeKistner.