|Mickey and Sean--making all the trades.|
To the surprise of absolutely no one who has followed the Saints in recent years, New Orleans made the fewest picks of any team in the draft and traded a 2021 draft pick to move up in this year’s draft.
If the Saints were a young child, they would fail the marshmallow test every single time.
Since New Orleans only made four picks in the draft, that should make this recap relatively easily.
Round 1, Pick 24—C Cesar Ruiz (Michigan)
We wrote last week that the Saints might look to grab an interior offensive lineman with right guard Larry Warford in the last year of his contract. Either Ruiz or Erik McCoy, last year’s starting center, will have to compete with Warford for the right guard spot. The Saints liked Ruiz’s size (6-3, 307 lbs), intelligence (he was in charge of protection calls for the Michigan offensive line), and experience (31 starts over 3 seasons).
While the Saints may have been tempted to go for a wide receiver to help out Drew Brees, this pick is reminiscent of 2017, when New Orleans took right tackle Ryan Ramcyzk 32nd overall. The Saints had already invested significant capital in the offensive line, but Sean Payton believes that you can never have too many good offensive lineman. The Saints might try to trade Warford, but they might just hold onto him and have him compete with Ruiz or McCoy for the guard spot.
Round 3, Pick 74—LB Zach Baun (Wisconsin)
New Orleans just can’t help themselves with trading up. This time they traded the 88th pick in the draft and their 3rdrounder for next year to move up 14 spots. At least, they used the pick on a well-regarded player in a position of need. Currently, two of the Saints starting linebackers—Alex Anzalone and Kiko Alonso have missed significant time with injuries. All-Pro starter Demario Davis is 31 and he, along with backup Craig Robertson, Anzalone, and Alonso, are all in the last year of their contracts. So the Saints needed another playmaker on a long-term contract and they got themselves one.
As an outside linebacker, Baun has been successful as an edge rusher with 12.5 sacks last season. He also has the ability to drop back into coverage and guard tight ends and running backs.
Round 3, Pick 105—TE Adam Trautman (Dayton)
The Saints paid a heavy price for Trautman, giving up their 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th round picks to move up 25 spots to draft Trautman. According to Chase Stuart’s approximate value based draft chart, the Saints gave up the equivalent of the 83rd pick in the draft to move up.
And it’s not immediately clear where Trautman fits into the Saints offense as New Orleans already has Jared Cook and Josh Hill as starters. Trautman played well at Dayton—catching 70 passes for 916 yards and 14 touchdowns—but against FCS division talent. The Saints have been touting Trautman’s blocking skills as making him an impact player immediately. He better be, because the Saints gave up a lot to get him.
Round 7, Pick 240—QB Tommy Stephens (Mississippi State)
New Orleans currently has a versatile quarterback on the roster who can play wide receiver, tight end, and running back in Taysom Hill. What’s the harm in having another? Stephens has experience running the ball, practiced route running before the draft, and even prepared to work out at tight end to help his draft prospects. His versatility came about because he was “bored” while serving as a backup at Penn State. The Saints traded a 6th rounder next year to get him, but 6th and 7th rounders are easy to replace. Another versatile weapon for Sean Payton to scheme around isn’t.