The New Orleans Saints are at a crossroads. The 2017 season has to be better than years past. Drew Brees can still sling the football around and Sean Payton is still walking the sidelines. But this organization has to find a way to win more than they lose and a playoff berth must be a priority.
The Saints have needs in the secondary, offensive line and now could use another wide receiver. The trade with New England that sent Brandin Cooks to the AFC brought the 32nd overall pick for the team to play with as now they have five of the first 103 picks next month. The team doesn’t have another selection after that until the sixth round.
New Orleans must, at some point, address the issue of Brees and whether the team will find his replacement. There are some good quarterbacks out there, but aside from maybe Deshaun Watson, no one jumps off the board.
Times are changing and fans want a winner. Each year, the offense looks the part but comes up short. The defense is still the major issue with this team, so it must be addressed.
Here’s a look at how I see the Saints’ draft playing out. This could be one of the last years we see the Brees/Payton combination in the Superdome.
Round 1, pick 11 (11th overall) – Derek Barnett, Defensive End, Tennessee
The Saints need a pass rusher and figure the combination of Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas will all be gone at this point. Barnett is not that far off from the lead pack and fits nicely as an edge rusher/outside linebacker type in the Saints defense.
Round 1, pick 32 (32nd overall) – Marlon Humphrey, Cornerback, Alabama
Humphrey’s slide is the Saints’ gain. The former Crimson Tide star offers this team a young cover corner. He boasts an exciting combination of size, straight-line speed and physicality for the position. Possesses a broad-shouldered well-built frame with long arms well-suited to press coverage.
Round 2, Pick 10 (42nd overall) – TJ Watt, Linebacker, Wisconsin
New Orleans is hoping Watt is a lot like his older brother who plays for the Texans. Watt’s stock has been on the rise since the Combine and offers the Saints a young, quick body with plenty of power. The only thing that concerns me is his tweener size, but well worth the pick here for a struggling defense.
Round 3, Pick 12 (76th overall) – Marcus Maye, Safety, Florida
After the team takes Humphrey, it doubles down on another top-notch defensive back with Maye. The Gators have been sending hard hitting safeties to the NFL for years. Maye is another one who will help immediately and could aid the team on special teams. At this point, the Maye pick is a steal.
Round 3, Pick 39 (103rd overall) – Danny Isidora, Guard, Miami
The Saints still need help on the offensive line and look to Isidora, who can play both guard positions and could also see time at center. He has a nice frame at 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds. The only knock against him is he is an inch shorter than most scouts would like. Isidora would be another steal if he fell to New Orleans here.
Round 6, Pick 12 (196th overall) – Josh Reynolds, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Reynolds is a value pick this late in the Draft (I know you heard a little Mel Kiper there). A tall kid at 6-foot-3, his 194-pound frame could use some weight. He could be a return specialist and could also fit in as the fourth wide receiver in this offense. He could become a taller Julian Edelman in this offense.
Round 7, Pick 11 (229th overall) – Mitch Leidner, Quarterback, Minnesota
Not the guy who will replace Brees, but an arm to bring to camp and develop, even if it’s on the practice squad. According to his scouting report, he possesses a country strong frame with broad shoulders and good overall weight distribution. Leidner shows timing, body control and velocity on more difficult throws, such as deep balls after play-action and designed roll-outs.