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Saints took calculated risk on Payton Turner

Everything is a risk in the back half of the draft.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints are definitely a team that has made questionable free agency and draft decisions in the past. Sometimes, though, you have to be willing to take a gamble in order to hit the big pay day. The Saints took a risk drafting a small Tennessee running back in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, mere months after signing Adrian Peterson to pair with then-starter Mark Ingram, but one Offensive Rookie of the Year award later and no one regrets the Alvin Kamara draft pick.

Bleacher Report recently identified the “riskiest move” for each of the NFL’s 32 teams in the 2021 offseason, and for the New Orleans Saints, it was none other than their first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft:

For the most part, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is well-regarded around the NFL. He has played a significant part in the franchise’s success over the past decade-plus.

But Loomis appears to have a soft spot for small-school edge-rushers.

In 2018, the Saints dealt their first-rounder the following season to move up and take Marcus Davenport of UTSA. The team recently picked up Davenport’s fifth-year option for 2022, but by any objective measure he has been a major disappointment. Through three seasons, Davenport has almost as many missed games (11) as he does sacks (12).

Apparently, Loomis believes that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: New Orleans made one of the most puzzling picks of Round 1 in April when the Saints took Houston’s Payton Turner with the 28th overall pick.

it’s not that Turner is devoid of talent, but he was widely viewed as both a Day 2 prospect and one that will need time to develop.

It was an odd gamble—especially after the team doubled down on its bet with Davenport.

The Saints’ selection of Payton Turner was definitely met with a fair amount of criticism when the pick was first announced, but he player - if not the pick - has seemingly grown on the Who Dat Nation fanbase of late.

Whether the first round “gamble” on Turner ultimately pays off might not be decided until years later, but there’s no question that selecting the Houston defensive end was “risky.” When you’re drafting in the back end of the first round, there aren’t many “sure things,” so you have to be risky if you want to reap the rewards. But let’s hope the Saints grabbing Payton Turner is looked at more like Alvin Kamara than Marcus Davenport in a couple of years.


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