The NFL draft begins this Thursday night. Because of the coronavirus things will look a little different. Teams will be drafting from home, the possibility to technical screwups is high, especially when you’re dealing with a bunch of grumpy football coaches who are skeptical of things like email and YouTube.
As is typical of the New Orleans Saints, they have given their fans little reason to tune in. They only have 5 picks in the draft, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for fewest in the league. In the Sean Payton-Mickey Loomis era, New Orleans has always been aggressive trading away picks for players and in order to move up in the draft for specific players.
This strategy flies against rigorous draft analysis suggesting that no team is better than any other at the draft and the best way to accumulate good young players is just to draft a lot of them.
So let’s take a look at the picks the Saints do have and what they might do to fill them.
Round 1, Pick 24—Surprise! The Saints have a first round pick, but fear not, they’re down a 2nd rounder after trading it away last year to move up to grab center Erik McCoy. Last year, the Saints gave up their first rounder in a trade two years ago to select defensive lineman Marcus Davenport.
If one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the draft, like Utah State’s Jordan Love, falls past the first 12 or so picks, don’t be surprised for the Saints to offer a package of their current first-rounder plus next year’s to try and snag Drew Brees’ successor. With Teddy Bridgewater off to greener pastures and Carolina and Taysom “only 6 career passing attempts” Hill the only other QB on the roster, the Saints will need to invest in a young QB soon to replace the aging Brees.
If one of the top QBs isn’t available look for the Saints to grab a wide receiver to bolster their receiving corps or a linebacker to shore up the middle of the defense.
Round 3, Pick 88—Hey a third rounder! Don’t look now because they Saints haven’t had one of those in a while either. They traded the previous one for a season of Teddy Bridgewater. Only it wasn’t for last season, where he replaced Brees and played well. It was for the season before that where he barely played.
Look for the Saints to target some defense help here. Wide receiver, linebacker, and edge rusher are all positions of need of the Saints to shore up their team depth as the team readies for another (and perhaps final?) Super Bowl run with Brees under center.
Round 4, 130—With guard Larry Warford heading into the last season of his contract, the Saints might draft an interior offensive lineman. This would be a developmental pick with a young guard or center learning the Saints pass and run blocking schemes behind Warford, McCoy, the recently resigned Andrus Peat, and backup Nick Easton. You can never have too many good offensive linemen.
The Saints also have picks in the 5th and 6th rounds, but those generally are back of the roster players who sometimes don’t make it out of training camp.