Recently, the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a blockbuster trade, with the Saints grabbing picks 16 and 19 in the first round of the 2022 Draft. The biggest hit of the trade for the Saints was giving away a 2023 first round pick. So essentially, they gave away next year’s first-round pick for an extra one this year. New Orleans now has picks 16, 19, 49, 98, 120, 161, and 194 in this year’s draft. Three picks in the top-50 leaves this team in great position to stay in win-now mode, with a lot of holes already filled.
Liabilities remaining: *WR*, Left Tackle, (TE/RB?)
The Saints have been surrounded by many draft rumors on both sides of the ball, but mostly talk. When looking at the defense, there isn't much cause for concern with this team. They’ve statistically been top-five the past two seasons, with the front making things easy on the secondary and vice versa. The Saints lost both safeties, Marcus Williams and Malcom Jenkins, to free agency and retirement. They responded with losing Williams by getting former Jets’ safety Marcus Maye and returning PJ Williams. Getting Maye in place of Williams was an A+ acquisition, it softened the blow as much as you could ask. The Saints have acquired multiple key pieces up front to add *more* depth and have been front and center in talks of signing 4x All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu. Whether the team lands Mathieu or not, I think it’s safe to say the defense will be stout once again with a chance to add depth in the later rounds/off-season.
General Manager Mickey Loomis never shows his hand when making roster moves and that hasn't changed. Loomis and head coach Dennis Allen have been pretty silent, with a few vague statements to the media on the team’s approach. Fans and experts have been steadily trying to figure out motive, such as: QB, WR, Tackle, Safety... But here is how I think Loomis should play his cards when draft day arrives.
Double down on receiver
Dennis Allen has been on record saying he has “all the confidence in the world” that James Hurst can hold down LT “if that’s the direction the team takes” and I doubt that’s a statement to take with a grain of salt. Knowing that... If you really want some insurance at Tackle, why not wait until the 2nd round to find a guy you like? That leaves the option to make it a training-camp competition and add some serious talent to the offense.
Mock drafts are essentially projections/educated guesses but when you look at the teams ahead of the Saints, only a select few are likely to take a receiver. That means it’s pretty likely your guy will still be there when picks 16 and/or 19 come. The top prospects are Chris Olave (Ohio State), Jameson Williams (Alabama), Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Treylon Burks (Arkansas), Jahan Dotson (Penn State) and Drake London (USC). This receiver class is loaded, the tape for all of these guys speaks for itself. They all come with tools to make the Saints’ offense more than explosive and I believe at least four of the six will still be on the board when New Orleans is on the clock. If you can add one of these guys with Kamara and Thomas, you have trouble. If you add two of these guys (even better, your favorite two) with Kamara and Thomas, you probably have a near-unstoppable offense. That allows Deonte Hardy and Marquez Callaway to get in where they fit in against DBs lower in the depth chart and boom, opportunities galore.
Why not go QB with either pick?
This quarterback class is okay, not even close to some of the best. Matt Corral, Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett are probably the top three on the board, but would they be a better option than Jameis Winston? After all, this team is trying to host a Lombardi trophy this season and Jameis is just 28. Last year, he had a career high TD/INT ratio before the injury. After all, wasn't turnovers his only downfall? Because the arm-talent has always been elite. He led the team to a 5-2 record without his All-Pro guy Michael Thomas. Thomas being back makes the game easier for Jameis and everyone else. Jameis’ issues in Tampa were a product of his environment and Sean Payton has spoken on that in the past... Payton and Drew Brees have been adamant on believing Jameis’ best is yet to come, and aren't these two of the greatest minds we’ve had in football? Don’t they know a little bit about QB and controlling some of the most prolific offenses we’ve ever seen? Jameis inherited a bad o-line, non-existent running game and bad defense in Tampa. A scheme predicating on big shots down the field combined with that is a recipe for disaster with anyone at QB. We saw glimpses of what Jameis could do without Mike Thomas. Imagine what he could do with Mike and one, or two more receivers?
Why not get the first Tackle on the board you want?
- As alluded to, Dennis Allen has “all the confidence in the world” that the Saints already have a guy that can start and perform at LT. That wasn't a statement he made because he felt like it. In addition, you still have another top-50 pick after the first round. So, the talent in the trenches will still be there in a few minutes...
- Even with the LT “issue,” the Saints still have a top-10 offensive line as stands. We just saw the Rams and Bengals compete in the Super Bowl, both with an average-at-best offensive line. How were they able to do that? Here’s probably the biggest reason: They both possess the two best receiving corps in the league. Joe Burrow is top-five and Matt Stafford is HOF-worthy, but the weapons they have at their disposal is what any QB would ask for. It’s a different league, you need weapons first. The Saints have one issue (we’re assuming it’s an issue) at tackle that can be solved a little later.
If the Saints didn't have another pick shortly after the first round, doubling down on receiver wouldn't make as much sense. But they do, so it does. The worst-case scenario should be the Saints grabbing one receiver in the first round but getting two isn't a bad idea at all.