We are a night removed from Round 1 of the NFL draft and Saints fans were still scratching their head about the New Orleans Saints first round selection of defensive end Payton Turner. While we all are hoping for Turner to be a great player for the black and gold, one can’t help but wonder if a more immediate positional need should have been addressed with that pick. The Saints made sure to address those need at cornerback and linebacker in rounds 2 and 3.
Saints Day 2 Draft Grade: B
To see the Saints sit idly and wait seemed so uncharacteristic for a team with such a propensity to move up in the draft. In fact before tonight, the Saints have moved up 21 times in the draft for the past 15 years. Many thought the Saints may quickly make a move up in the draft to nab a talented guy. They didn’t and waited until their 60th pick to select Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner.
Werner is a versatile 6’2 238 pound linebacker who mixes a good batch of athleticism and instincts. Over his four year college career he started a total of 35 games and recorded 176 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 11 pass breakups. He was also an integral part of their special teams unit where he participated in almost 450 plays in that phase of the game.
Coverage numbers were highest in 2019:— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) May 1, 2021
74.8 Cov. grade
18 catches on 35 targets
167 yards allowed (9.3 yards/rec)
64.8 passer rating allowed https://t.co/06eJx7h5mj
While Werner is known for his ability to play downhill, he does have some coverage ability. It helps that he runs a 4.59 40 and has an almost 40’’ vertical leap allowing to move sideline to sideline and make plays on the ball in the air. His versatility will play well alongside Demario Davis and he should be free to roam and make plays all over the field.
With the linebacker position addressed, the next question on Saints fans mind was, who is going to be out there covering anyone? The Saints were headed into the draft with only 4 corners signed to the them so grabbing one was of paramount importance. The Saints didn’t sit back and wait on this one. They moved up in the draft and snagged their guy.
They swapped picks with the Broncos and added their 105th pick to move up to pick 76 to draft Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo. The talented corner saw his draft stock fall as he opted out last season due to Covid and other concerns. However, his previous collegiate tape showed the potential the Saints envisioned when they moved up to draft him.
A 2020 opt-out, new #Saints CB Paulson Adebo posted the following career numbers at Stanford (2018, 2019):— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) May 1, 2021
• 91.1 Overall Grade
• 92.0 Coverage Grade
• 73 catches allowed on 129 targets (56.6%)
• 5 TD
• 8 INT
• 24 PBU
• 63.8 Passer Rating Allowed
Not bad at all.#WhoDat pic.twitter.com/FlwEGC5384
The 6’1 198 pound corner has the size and physicality the Saints like at that position. What stands out even more is his play making ability. In his 21 starts he had 8 interceptions and 27 pass defended. The adage is that cornerbacks are simply receivers who can’t catch the ball. Adebo has proven when he gets his hands on the ball, he can hold on to it which has often been a problem for alot of Saints defenders. Whether Adebo is a Day 1 starter in New Orleans remains to be seen. The Saints may still look to target a veteran the likes of Richard Sherman to anchor the defensive backfield alongside Marshon Lattimore. At any rate, Adebo will see significant playing time this season and should make a solid contribution based on his skill set.
With Rounds 4-7 upcoming, the Saints still have 4 draft picks left to address more team needs. Look for the team to potentially grab an offensive weapon such as Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace is he’s available. If not, Jabril Cox from LSU or Shakur Brown from Michigan State may be some names the Saints target to continue to bolster the defense.
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