Tuesday, April 23, 2019

2019 NFL Draft Preview

           The NFL draft begins this Thursday night. For New Orleans Saints, however, there’s very little reason to tune in. The Saints don’t have a first round pick. In fact, Saints fans don’t have much of a reason at all to watch the draft. As the team has gone all-in to try and win the Super Bowl over the last two seasons, they’ve traded away draft picks for players who can help the team now. Some of those moves have worked, others not so much. 

            So let’s take a look at few picks the Saints have left, what they might do with them, and where all the missing picks went. 

1-30—In 2018, the Saints traded their  first rounder, 27th overall, and their 2019 first rounder to the Green Bay Packers to move up to the 14th pick and select defensive end Marcus Davenport. The aggressive move was classic Saints, pay too high a price for a player the team’s front office loves. In his rookie season, Davenport looked every bit the developmental prospect that draft analysts had described. He was fine, but was he worth giving up value equal to the 4th overall pick in the draft? Absolutely not.

2-62—Hey, they kept this one! Don’t be surprised if the Saints try and trade up by throwing in a pick from the 2020 draft. Ideally, the Saints would trade down and pick up an extra 3rd or 4th rounder, but that’s not Saints GM Mickey Loomis’ forte. Sometimes it works, see Alvin Kamara, but most of the time it doesn’t i.e. every other trade Loomis has made where he gives away future picks in higher rounds. 

3-93—The Saints traded this pick to the New York Jets back in training camp for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If New Orleans wanted Bridgewater so badly, they could have signed him as a free agent a few months earlier and kept their draft pick. Bridgewater barely played in 2018 because the Saints have Drew Brees at quarterback. Why pay such a high price for a backup? Especially since if Brees is hurt, the team is screwed anyway. 

4-132—New Orleans traded this pick mid-season for cornerback Eli Apple. This trade was one of the few draft pick for player trades that turned out well. Apple, who had struggled with the Giants after being the 10thoverall pick in 2016, solidified the Saints pass defense. Lining up as the starting cornerback across from Marcus Lattimore, Apple replaced Ken Crowley and the injured P.J. Williams. 

The rest of the Saints draft picks are in the 5th (168), 6th (177, 202), and 7th (231, 244) rounds. So now let’s take a look at some areas of need for New Orleans. 

Offensive Line—With the surprise retirement of Max Unger, New Orleans needs a new center to anchor the team’s stellar offensive line. Guards Andrus Peat and Larry Warford will be free agents after 2019 and 2020 respectively. Left tackle Terron Armstead is a great player when healthy, but always seems to miss a multiple games per year. An effective offensive line is key to keeping Drew Brees upright. 

Tight End— Ever since the Saints traded away Jimmy Graham, they’ve struggled to find a permanent replacement. New Orleans signed 32 year old Jared Cook in free agency and he won’t be around forever. It’s time for the team to draft and develop a tight end for the future. 

Defense—Despite the Saints massive improvements over the past two seasons, they still need help just about everywhere on defense. Another edge rusher to complement Cameron Jordan and Davenport would be useful, especially after the loss of Alex Okafor. New Orleans could also use another safety behind Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell. As NFL teams become more and more pass-happy, having 3-4 effective safeties is becoming more and more important and the Saints just released Kurt Coleman. 

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