In any normal year, meaning pretty much every year since 2009, the recommended philosophy was “best player available.” That was largely due to the fact that up until the very end it almost didn’t matter what kind of weapons were put in front of Drew Brees and Sean Payton, the offensive performance was pretty much a foregone conclusion. With Brees retiring and Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston set to compete for the reigns of the offense we find ourselves in a new situation where nothing can be considered a ‘given’.
The New Orleans Saints may very well go best player available, and depending on how the board falls they might have opportunities to address holes on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball together. But, let’s assume for a moment that won’t be the case and the team will be forced to choose. Despite Drew’s retirement the Saints still have one of the most talented rosters in the league from top to bottom. They have impact players at all 3 levels on defense and offense, and despite Thomas Morestead being released there’s reason to believe that special teams will still be very good as well.
However, while there is talent across the board, there are also holes. Not just ‘areas where we need depth’ (of which there are many), but true genuine holes on the roster. It’s very likely that the Saints are going to have to choose between beefing up the offensive side of the ball, or the defensive side. Before picking a side, lets take a second to go over the areas that are sub-par on both units.
Offense: QB (unknown commodities in Jameis and Taysom), WR2, TE, OL (depth)
Defense: LB (outside of Demario), CB2, CB3, EDGE (pass rusher), NT
Going strictly by the numbers there are more holes on the defensive side of the ball, and more egregious ones. That’s without factoring in Marshon Lattimore and his recent idiocy in Cleveland (which until full details are released we won’t comment on further) which could result in an extended absence from the team. The defense also has the more egregious holes as there is no one on the roster currently even capable of playing the other corner spot and no believable candidates to play linebacker alongside Demario.
If the Saints take the approach of trying to have the most balanced and complete team possible then the recommendation would be to spend all available draft capital to address those holes, even to the point of packaging some of the 3rd round picks they have to move up if they need to.
There is another school of thought that the Saints can subscribe to though. While the team certainly wants to win, and they have a lot of talent, they are no longer a “Super Bowl or bust” team. Because of that they can instead focus on elevating a unit into a true strength in the hopes that it will be able to help compensate for the other. Of course I’m talking about the offense here.
The most valuable and impactful asset the Saints have at their disposal is their first round pick. Maybe they move up and grab a quarterback, maybe they move up and get someone else, maybe they stay put. Whatever route they go, there will be an opportunity to add a true number 2 wide receiver to this team. On a team with a (presumably) healthy Michael Thomas, a healthy Alvin Kamara, Deonte Harris, and Marquez Callaway and Trequan Smith (who have shown flashes and should have their deep ball ability leveraged more now) the one thing you’re missing is a second wide receiver who can create impact plays and put stress on the defense.
With the Saints needing a corner, a linebacker, and a pass rusher on the defensive side it may be best to use their strongest asset to load up on their strongest unit, and fill out the rest of the roster based on the board from there.
Personally, I am more in favor of loading up the offense, especially on a team that has questions at Quarterback than I am shoring up a defense that is much farther from being ‘great’ than my offense could be.
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