After 3 days and 259 draft picks later, we have finally reached the end of the 2021 NFL draft. Depending on which team you root for you either come away fist pumping the air or scratching your scalp about what exactly your team did with their picks. If you are a New Orleans Saints fan that reaction may lie somewhere in the middle. Day 3 selections for the Saints should leave some room for optimism.
Saints Day 3 Grade: B
After finally seeing the team address their biggest needs at cornerback and linebacker with Day 2 selections, many fans were thinking the Saints may add more depth to those two positions or look to add a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. In typical Saints fashion, they go against the grain with their selection of quarterback an Book in the fourth round. On the surface this may seem like a perplexing move, especially given Payton’s terrible history with drafting quarterbacks, but in some respects this move had to be done.
Being spoiled with Drew Brees’ brilliance for 15 years doesn’t negate the fact the Saints needed to find a long term solution at some point once Brees retired. The Saints are using this year to see if they have that in either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill. If not, Book may be that guy or at least a stop gap to finding another. Book certainly put up some numbers in college to at least be given a look at some point.
New #Saints QB Ian Book earned a career 78.5 Overall grade in his time at Notre Dame (2017-2020).— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) May 1, 2021
Book also posted a total of 50 Big Time Throws, with a 74.6% adjusted completion rate.
On the ground, Book rushed for 17 TDs and forced 31 missed tackles.#WhoDat #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/lbhfs2YwHW
Book finished his career at Notre Dame with a 23-7 record as a starter while having a 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio and over 60% completion percentage. While only standing 6’0 in the pocket, Book has good pocket awareness and elusiveness as evident by his 17 career rushing touchdowns. Even though Saints fans may think drafting a QB here was a stretch, it was something that had to be addressed at some point.
The substance picks continued for the Saints as they moved up to in the draft and selected Kentucky offensive tackle Landon Young with the 206th pick. Young was a 4 year offensive line anchor for the Wildcats and this pick could prove tremendously valuable later on down the road. It’s not often that an ALL-SEC left tackle is still available this late in the draft.
Over the past two seasons, new #Saints OL Landon Young has quietly been one of the top performing Tackles in the SEC.— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) May 1, 2021
During that span, Young earned 80.5 Overall (7th among SEC Tackles), 84.6 Pass Blocking (4th), and 76.8 Run Blocking (10th) grades.#WhoDat #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/nADyohLf0u
Young made the ALL-SEC team in 2019 and 2020 and he led a unit that twice was named a finalist for the Joe Moore award which recognizes the best offensive line in college football. Young has been praised for his versatility and says he can play 4 positions on the offensive line. With Ryan Ramczyk on the last year of his rookie deal and Terron Armstead who has yet to play a full 16 game season, Young could be called upon to add depth now and potentially start in the near future.
Since the Saints forfeited a later pick in the trade to move up and draft Young, they had one pick remaining and they used that to draft wide receiver Kawaan Baker from the University of South Alabama. The electric Baker was simply dynamic with the football in his hand. He finished his career with 27 touchdowns, 16 receiving and 11 rushing. The speedy receiver ran a 4.41 40 and can play both on the outside and in the slot. Having an additional weapon like Baker who can make plays with the ball in hands can prove useful down the line.
New #Saints WR Kawaan Baker gives the team a new option in the slot.— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) May 1, 2021
Baker spent 78.0% of his WR snaps lined up inside.
He also presents a threat after the catch, averaging 7.1 YAC per reception for his college career.
Baker forced 16 missed tackles on 51 catches in 2020. pic.twitter.com/vHMiHDAtCL
The Saints will now turn their attention to the undrafted free agent pool as they will look to add more depth and versatility as they head into the 2021 season.
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