The NFL Draft is quickly approaching! The IDP department is breaking down each team post-free agency and what they should look to address in the draft.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints defense came out of nowhere to have an amazing year in 2017. A stellar draft class coupled with the perfect FA signing turned this defense around in a hurry. It’s going to be a pain in three seasons when those rookie contracts come due. Also, from a statistics standpoint, given the incredible 2016 draft, expect a dud from the Saints this year (not having a 1st or a 2nd doesn’t help). On a side note, I put the Over/Under of “Big Easy” uses at 4.5 for this article.
Cameron Jordan is a stud and Top 5 DE. New Orleans has been looking for someone to play across him for years. In 2017, they tried free agent signee Alex Okafor. Okafor turned in a solid performance before going on IR. Okafor was brought back, but a torn achilles is nothing to trifle with. The Saints also drafted Trey Hendrickson in the 3rd Round in 2017. I’ve laid out the argument for 3rd Round Edges too many times. Go read any of my other old articles. The concerning thing about Hendrickson is after Okafor was lost for the season, the Saints played more 3 DT packages than Hendrickson.
2018 will be Sheldon Rankins third year in the Big Easy. He still has yet to live up to his 12th overall draft pick for IDPers. Nick Fairley may never play again with a heart condition. That leaves David Onyemata and Tyeler Davison. Onyemata and Davison were split by a total of 9 snaps last year. They basically cancelled each other out all last season.
Last year, the Saints brought in Luke Kuechly’s backup, A.J. Klein. Klein played a ton of snaps, but New Orleans misused him from an IDP perspective, playing him at SAM in base packages and MIKE in sub packages. Alex Anzalone was brought in as a 3rd Rounder. He played the WILL until, like every season at Florida, he got injured and missed the rest of the season. Demario Davis signed with New Orleans after a productive season with the Jets where Davis played more snaps than any other defensive player. At this point, they should line up with Anzalone at WILL, Davis at MIKE and Klein at SAM, sending Manti Te’o to the bench. Davis will definitely play all 3 downs. Anzalone will likely get first shot to play all 3 downs over Klein. Keep an eye out for Craig Robertson as he’ll likely back up Anzalone at WILL and will be serviceable when Anzalone gets hurt.
Marshon Lattimore was the 11th overall pick in 2017. Lattimore quickly turned into a lockdown CB. It may already be time to preemptively target the CB starting across from Lattimore. QBs will quickly start avoiding him. At the moment, that CB will be Ken Crawley who’s been productive in the past. PJ Williams mans the slot, although the Saints brought in Patrick Robinson to compete.
New Orleans drafted Marcus Williams in the 2nd Round in 2017. Williams immediately proved himself a capable starter at FS. Starting across from Williams will be the Saints 2016 2nd Round pick Vonn Bell. Kurt Coleman came marching in from division-rival Carolina to serve as the 3rd Safety in Big Nickel packages.
Draft Needs – DE, DT, CB
One of the best rosters in the NFL resides in the Big Easy. They could use some depth on the defensive line across from Cameron Jordan. They could also look to upgrade at some backup positions like defensive tackle and cornerback. They have a lot of linebacker depth, but are they really set there?
The Saints currently own:
1st Round #27 overall
3rd Round #91 overall
4th Round #127 overall
5th Round #147 overall
5th Round #164 overall
6th Round #189 overall
6th Round #201 overall
7th Round #245 overall
If the Saints do go defensive, they would likely go DE or DT. A DE would be critical if Okafor isn’t fully back from the torn Achilles. They’re certainly set at Safety. They could use a CB, but why throw a 3rd or 4th rounder down on a CB that probably won’t see many snaps. They have enough depth at LB. So if they go DE, they have to hope Sam Hubbard drops due to his 40-time, or Dorance Armstrong Jr.
I say everyone should draft Derek Nnadi to up their run defense. I’m going to be right about one of these teams in the end and appear incredibly prophetic, as long as you skip this sentence…
Being completely honest here, I didn’t keep track of the Big Easy’s…
For more in-depth analysis of these players, you can get the 2018 Rookie Roundup for FREE and read up on the IDP relevant draft prospects.
Thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for your favorite team broken down IDP style. Follow me @Ben_Glaser and let me know who you would want the Saints or your team to draft this year!
Liked this? Check out the breakdown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.