New Orleans Saints draft grades
Alex Anzalone - Linebacker, Florida

Despite a few missteps, the New Orleans Saints have to be happy with the way the NFL Draft unfolded last week. While the team made every effort to select linebacker Reuben Foster out of Alabama, the team still made solid picks that will help the team this season and in the future.

For those of you who do not know, The Saints were all ready to pick the All-American Foster, but the linebacker hung up on the team, allowing the San Francisco 49ers to swoop in and grab help for their defense. It’s one of those draft day stories everyone will talk about for some time. But now, with help on the defensive side of the ball and a strong tackle to help in the run game, New Orleans can attempt to do something it has had trouble with of late – win football games.

No matter how good Drew Brees still is, this franchise needs more than a strong arm and 5,000-yards passing to pull out victories. The defense has been this team’s Achilles heel.

It all starts with Marshon Lattimore. The cornerback from Ohio State slipped to the Saints at No. 11. According to Nick Underhill of The Advocate, the Saints were shocked and happy to get such a complete player.

“One member of the Saints front office called Lattimore his dream pick before the draft but noted it was unreasonable to expect him to fall to No. 11, the Saints’ first pick in the NFL draft. It seemed more likely that someone else from the cloud, which included quarterback Patrick Mahomes, among many others, would end up being the pick.”

Lattimore can help this team from the start. Someone like Mahomes may have taken some time.

Here’s a look at the New Orleans Saints picks and analysis from last week’s NFL Draft.

Round 1 (pick 11) –  Marshon Lattimore, CB, 6-0, 193, Ohio State

He was originally slated as a top five pick. Falling to the Saints is a miracle in some eyes. Lattimore is a shutdown corner who is physical and has good size to compete in a receiver-heavy NFC South. He excels in pass coverage, something this team needs.

Round 1 (pick 32) – Ryan Ramczyk, T, 6-6, 314, Wisconsin

The team could not pass him up and they should not have passed over him. I had Ramczyk the top rated offensive lineman in this draft. It is shocking he slipped as well. The offensive tackle crop this year was slim. Having a mammoth tackle to groom is a rarity. The New Orleans Saints did well to draft a future All-Pro.

Round 2 (pick 42) – Marcus Williams, S, 6-1, 202, Utah

When you see the team has only one safety signed past the 2017 season on the roster, this pick makes all the sense in the world. Williams is a physical player who can hit and is a ball-hawking type player, he fits right in on the fast carpet in the Superdome.

Round 3 (pick 67) – Alvin Kamara, RB, 5-10, 215, Tennessee

I love this pick. Kamara joins a crowded backfield. The team signed Adrian Peterson prior to the draft. Can anyone tell me which team has a better trio of runners with Kamara and Mark Ingram? Kamara is the change of pace back this team lacks.

Round 3 (pick 76) – Alex Anzalone, OLB, 6-3, 240, Florida

The only reason Anzalone lasted this long is because of injuries at Florida. He is the epitome of an old-school football player. Anzalone will play the middle and stop the run or move outside to cover a tight end out of the backfield. There are few who will give as much effort as this SEC star.

Round 3 (pick 106) – Trey Hendrickson, DE, 6-4, 266, Florida Atlantic

Another one of those picks that I love. Hendrickson is quick with 4.65 speed in the 40 and will fill a major need as an outside pass rusher. I see the team using him as an outside linebacker as well in some packages.

Round 6 (pick 196) – Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, 6-3, 253, Miami

This is a move to help the pass rush. Moreover, if Muhammad can overcome off-field issues, he could be a steal. Also, he was impressive in offseason workouts. However, the New Orleans Saints have to be patient with him for this pick to stick.

Analysis – This is just what the doctor ordered. New Orleans has pieces to build on in the future. They missed on Foster, but got quality players in their first six picks, with Muhammed a work in progress. Furthermore, there is no reason to think many of these players won’t contribute in a big way this season.

The sand in the hourglass is fading for the Saints in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era. Nevertheless, this team needs to focus on the future. In fact, they have begun that process. Thus, the only critique I find fault with is they did not draft a quarterback of the future.

Grade – B+

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