With the 2023 NFL draft officially wrapped up, the New Orleans Saints like every other NFL team had the ultimate of goal of building a better roster that can push their respective team to the next level. During the first three rounds that’s exactly what the Saints went out and did. They grabbed three immediate impact players that easily can help turn the Saints from NFC South favorite to NFC favorite. For this article we will breakdown and grade the first three selections from the 2023 NFL draft and will list the day 3 picks here. Bryan Bresee, Isaiah Foskey, and Kendre Miller were all key positions the Saints needed to not only address, but simply get needed to it right during the NFL draft. With the aging roster and still somewhat open conference the perfect storm has brewed for the Saints to go all in still for the 2023 NFL season.
1st Round: Bryan Bresse, DT, Clemson
Just from a pure need and the amount of talent and skill Bresse possess, I would make this an easy A grade at its lowest. Bresse might not be a true run stuffing defensive tackle, but that's why you sign a guy like Kahlen Saunders in the offseason, however you bring a guy like Bresse in to rush the passer and disrupt plays which he did throughout his career at Clemson. People mention injuries as the reason he fell but I am not too concerned considering that they were different types of injuries and not connected, also given the tragedy that struck the Breese family late last year, it’s something you aren’t prepared for and takes its toll mentally on anyone and isn’t something you can fix with surgery or rehab. Assuming all is well with Breese, the Saints could have nasty presence on the defensive line for years to come.
Luke H: A-
At the beginning of the draft process, I wasn’t a fan on Bresee. His college production wasn’t there, and he had suffered a torn ACL and had shoulder surgery but the more I dug into him, I started to love him as a prospect. Outside of Jalen Carter, he has the highest upside of any DT in the draft. Out of high school, he was the nation's top prospect and showed why his freshman year. He filled the Saints biggest position of need, and if he can stay healthy, he can become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL.
Hayden K: B+
Much like Luke I wasn’t super high on Breese coming into the year. He had dealt with injuries and a decrease in production while dealing with off the field non legal stuff as well. But as the process went on and you watch the tape you can see the true highly rated recruit that he was coming out of high school. While not quite the run stopper that Jalen Carter is I would argue his pass rushing ability and upside is much higher. All of this on top of the Saints not having to trade up from 29 gives them a high grade. Only reason it isn’t an A is because of the injury issues. Otherwise, a great pick for a position of need.
This was a borderline C grade for Bresee. He is a high character guy at a needed position though, so it does make the pick worthwhile in some aspects. Bresee was a great prospect three years ago but has had nothing but physical and mental turmoil since then. He often disappeared in games last season, with multiple games of no meaningful impact. The upside is immense though. Interior linemen who can rush the passer well are extremely rare so if Bresee can put it all together, he will be a steal at the end of the first round.
As the pre-draft period of the offseason evolved, it was clear that the Saints should draft a defensive tackle in the first round, especially after the departures of Shy Tuttle and David Onyemata. Bresee offers immediate relief to a short-staffed lie, regardless of the recent free agency signings. He’s excellent at both stopping the run and getting into the backfield and moves very quickly for his 6’5, 300-pound frame. It appears that the Saints were considering trading up for another DT, namely Calijah Kancey. Considering that the Saints were unable to trade up but still drafted a stellar prospect is a win for me. His injury concerns are indeed concerning, but he’s an absolute nightmare on the line when healthy. Bresee is worth the risk.
2nd Round: Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame
Foskey on paper has everything you would love to have in a prototypical defensive end in today’s NFL standing at 6’5 weighing 294 pounds and still somehow ran a 4.58 40- yard dash. After posting back-to-back 11 sack seasons, Foskey comes to a situation where it’s his job to lose. The mixture of size and power could easily make this one of the more impactful players in recent memory and give Cam Jordan a equal force on the opposite side.
Luke H: B+
The prototypical NFL edge rusher is changing more and more every year. Edges are getting faster and more athletic to help keep up with the new era of mobile quarterbacks. At 6’5, 294, Foskey can fly. He ran a 4.58 40-yard dash with a 1.66 10-yard split. He posted 11 sacks in 2021 and 2022 and has the potential to become what Marcus Davenport was supposed to be.
Hayden K: A
I love this pick especially for having him fall to you at 40. Foskey is an athletic freak that backed it up with true production as only Will Anderson had more sacks during their time in college. He needs to develop more of a refined passing game but allow him to get in the lab with Cam Jordan and this will be the guy Davenport was supposed to be but only in the second round and without trading up. Great pick on a massive area of need.
It is great that the Saints finally took a fast Edge rusher, but this one feels like a complete reach. Foskey did not face the most difficult competition at Notre Dame but showed out his last two seasons. The issue is Notre Dame though. The Fighting Irish are not known to turn out defensive linemen. In the last 20 years, there have only been two defensive linemen who made a real impact in the NFL selected out of Notre Dame. A top of the second-round selection seems like a reach.
The Foskey pick was both a short and long-term solution at edge rusher for New Orleans. Foskey will add immediate pass-rush support on the edge, something that Davenport never accomplished. Also, Foskey adds a potential solution to the aging Cam Jordan, who will be the hardest piece of this defense to replace in a few years. Foskey is quick, tough, and a great tackler. I like this pick a ton.
3rd Round: Kendre Miller, RB, TCU
Kendre Miller was the running back that I had hoped the Saints ended up taking in the draft this year. Miller has the size you want in a tough bruising running back who runs north and south and has the power to run over you and stay standing. At the same time, he can run around you can throw a mean juke move. Miller has the elusiveness, change of direction, and balance to make an immediate impact on this offense and even take some starting snaps with the offense. Having Miller who doesn’t have a ton of trend on the tires could make him and Alvin Kamara one of the more fun running back duos to watch.
Luke H: B
After spending back-to-back picks in the trenches, the Saints added an offensive weapon in round three. Miller burst onto the scene in 2022, posting 1,399 yards on 6.2 YPC and hit pay-dirt 17 times to help TCU reach the national championship. He’s a patient yet explosive runner when he finds a hole. The only reason he isn’t graded higher is because I would have liked to see him used in the pass game more in college.
Hayden K: A-
Another great pick especially with an Alvin Kamara suspension looming. I said this in why did we draft him piece but Kendra is a production animal and even when AK returns you can use them both to split Carries and use Alvin in his best way as a receiver. Kendre has every down back potential especially if he can revive the Patented Saints screen game like Mark did alongside Alvin. All this while once again not having to move up for Kendre who has the potential to become your future Pro Bowler at the position and that’s why this gets an A.
The Saints started two runs in the entire draft. By selecting Kendre Miller, the run on running backs started in the third round. Miller is had the most carries of his career by far in his final season with TCU at 224. Before that, he was used sparingly. This is good for the Saints. Miller’s running style can be bruising, so the less wear means a longer career in New Orleans. Miller might be an indicator of a new type of Saints offense that could develop this upcoming season, but the Saints got the guy they wanted at just the right time.
By drafting a running back in the third round, the Saints told us two things. First, they really believe in Kendre Miller, and second, Alvin Kamara might be suspended for longer than we thought. Miller appears to be an explosive back with the speed, agility, and balance you want to see from an NFL running back. He’s coming off an incredible season with the Horned Frogs recording 17 touchdowns and 1,400 yards on an impressive 6.2 yards-per-carry. Given the wealth of mid-round running backs in this draft, I believe the Saints could have waited another round or two to add RB depth, but as for Miller himself, he’ll be great for the Saints.