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Draft Decisions

NFL Draft Needs: Saints

by Josh Norris
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential draft-day solutions.


For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.



Saints Team Need No. 1: Defensive Line

 

Silva’s Analysis

 

The Saints’ defense took a big step forward as a unit last year, but they still ranked a below-par 22nd in QB hits (83) and 23rd in Football Outsiders’ run-defense DVOA. Hau’oli Kikaha is better suited for a situational role than starting defensive end, and depth is needed on the interior line.

 

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Saints Team Need No. 2: Pass Catcher

 

Silva’s Analysis

 

Cameron Meredith’s acquisition theoretically lessened this need, but he is coming off a torn ACL and MCL and is new to the Saints’ complex offense. No. 2 WR Ted Ginn is 33, and No. 1 TE Ben Watson turns 38 later this year. Willie Snead seems to have fallen out of favor. New Orleans needs more talent at wideout and a potential long-term solution at tight end.

 

Saints Team Need No. 3: Linebacker

 

Silva’s Analysis

 

The Saints paid big money to MLB Demario Davis after his career year with the Jets. Weak- and strong-side linebacker are up for grabs to a mishmash of Craig Robertson, A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone, none of whom deserve to enter training camp with a secure starting job. Beyond these more-glaring needs, the Saints will likely draft another cornerback and a quarterback at some point.

 

 

Norris’ Mock Draft

 

Round 1 (27): TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State - Whether in the first round or in a trade down (no second-round pick), Gesicki just makes sense with the Saints. As Evan mentioned, they’ve been searching for a tight end and have yet to find one. Gesicki would be an outstanding vertical threat and red zone option. I wonder if Saints coaches see Jimmy Graham in him.

Round 3 (91): LB Darius Leonard, South Carolina State - I reported the Saints brought Leonard in for a visit. I know they signed Davis. I know they drafted Anzalone. I know they paid Klein. However, finding a consistent piece (outside of Davis, who is locked in) seems to be a priority based on the prospects the Saints brought in for a visit. Leonard generated so much pre-draft interest that he had to turn down visits due to time constraints.

Round 4 (127): DL Bilal Nichols, Delaware - Cameron Jordan can’t carry the pass rush forever. Enter Nichols, who is explosive and disruptive from the interior, even in a situational role.

Round 5 (147): EDGE Justin Lawler, SMU - The Saints brought in Lawler for a visit, as did the Rams and other teams. He might be one of the NFL’s favorite day three pass rushers, a position that is difficult to find in that area of the draft.

Round 5 (164): WR Cedrick Wilson, Boise State - A team visit. Wilson was used on underneath crossing routes and vertical routes at Boise State, a similar role to what Ted Ginn was asked to play at points during his career.

Round 6 (189): OL Gerhard de Beer, Arizona - An athletic offensive line prospect to develop.

Round 6 (201): DB Josh Kalu, Nebraska - I’m a big fan of Kalu’s. He’s a press corner with length and athleticism. As a safety he was out of position in 2017.

Round 7 (245): DL Dee Liner, Arkansas State - A big bodied nose tackle. As a seventh round pick he might wind up on the practice squad.

Josh Norris

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for NBC Sports Edge and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .