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The best, and most surprising, draft picks of the Saints

It might not be another 2017 class, but hopefully it’s not another 2015 class either.

Arizona v Stanford Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

With the 2021 NFL Draft officially in the books less than a week ago, surely it is too soon to start looking back on whether the Saints made the right call with each pick, right? Of course not. NFL talking heads will always need something to criticize.

The folks over at CBS Sports recently ranked every team’s 2021 draft class, and the New Orleans Saints, who drafted 28th overall, were given the 27th-best (out of 32) draft class. Here’s what CBS Sports had to say:

Favorite pick: Houston’s Payton Turner. There had been some pre-draft buzz that the edge rusher could make his way into Round 1 and even though he never got there for us, we regularly had him going in the second-round of our multi-round mock drafts. Our final grade for Turner was a late second-rounder, but he has the physical tools to grow into a legit NFL pass rusher.

This is actually a tad surprising, considering the relatively low marks the Turner pick garnered from most of the NFL media.

Best value: CB Paulson Adebo opted out in 2020 and had he played he likely would’ve gone higher. It’s why we had a mid-second-round grade on the Stanford corner. He’s long, can run, and can make plays on the ball at the catch point, he just needs to be more consistent. The Saints need depth in the secondary opposite Marshon Lattimore and Adebo fits the size/speed/length criteria.

Agreed whole-heartedly here. Our own Dylan Sanders recently broke down Adebo’s play against USC in 2019 here, and there’s a lot to be excited about:

Most surprising pick: Ohio State’s Pete Werner went two full rounds before we expected. And while he timed well at his pro day (4.58 40-yard time), he didn’t play quite that fast. In fact, we loved his teammate, Baron Browning (our LB6), to be selected where Werner (our LB13) ended up going. But the Saints have a history of drafting players that surprise us in the media. And it’s hard to criticize them too much given all the winning they’ve done in New Orleans.

This is a fair criticism, as Werner lacks the athletic explosiveness that Saints fans may have grown accustomed to seeing during Kwon Alexander’s short time with the Saints. But Kwon is still a free agent, and the Saints could very well opt to bring Alexander back while Werner learns the game at the NFL level.

Of note, the reigning Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one spot behind the Saints, given the 28th-best draft class by CBS. The rival Atlanta Falcons were given 19th-best draft class, headlined by the number four overall pick in tight end Kyle Pitts. Best in the division according to CBS Sports were the Carolina Panthers, given the 10th-best draft class, as the Panthers snagged South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn with the 8th pick in the draft.

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