Draft Analysis

NFL Draft Needs: Saints

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.

No. 1 Team Need: Offensive line


Silva's Analysis


The Saints' trade of Ben Grubbs to Kansas City created a concerning hole at left guard. LT Terron Armstead, C Max Unger, RG Jahri Evans (long term is in question) and RT Zach Strief are all entrenched as starters. Coach Sean Payton's track record is decidedly aggressive in the passing game, but the Saints' roster took on more of a ball-control look this offseason. They invested sizable contracts in both Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, and now need interior linemen to clear running lanes for them.


No. 2 Team Need: Wide receiver


Silva's Analysis


New Orleans' more-balanced offensive approach may serve to minimize the team's wideout need, but an argument could have been made for receiver as a weakness even before the trades of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills. Marques Colston is on his last legs approaching age 32. Even if Brandin Cooks is ready to break out, Nos. 3-5 options Nick Toon, Seantavius Jones and Brandon Coleman are intriguing if unproven. The Saints could use a big perimeter target to help mitigate the loss of Graham in the red zone and open up the underneath sections for Cooks.


No. 3 Team Need: Linebacker


Silva's Analysis


Tight end, defensive end and quarterback also register as potential need areas. Linebacker stands out most prominently after New Orleans' defense was gashed by the run throughout 2014. MLB David Hawthorne is just above replacement level and struggles mightily on passing downs, while trade acquisition WLB Dannell Ellerbe is a below-average starter. SLB Parys Haralson is a limited-snap role player on the wrong side of 30. And the Saints have very little in the way of depth behind those three.

Norris’ Mock Draft

Round 1 (13): EDGE Bud Dupree, Kentucky - Upgrading the disruption in the front seven is a necessity. Dupree is a unique evaluation. He was not allowed to focus on one area of his game, either pass rushing or playing off the ball, and instead produced average play at both. Dupree is so explosive and will need to learn how to win by converting speed to power because he is not a bender who turns the corner. I think the Saints are a darkhorse for Marcus Mariota with how many picks they have in the first three rounds.

Round 1 (31): G A.J. Cann, South Carolina - A true interior OL will likely make his way into the end of round one. It seems most project Cann to be the first one off the board. I question the frequency in how often Cann drops his head and overextends, but he has an athletic base and strong hands to control.

Round 2 (44): WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State - I do not rank Strong as highly as others, but this would be a great fit since Brees could put the ball in Strong’s catch radius. In other offenses Strong could have a difficult time separating in man coverage. In this offense, he won’t have to separate to be targeted.

Round 3 (75): LB Paul Dawson, TCU - I know I inflated Dawson’s projection. I could absolutely see him staying on the board later than round three. Dawson is still aggressive and will make plays at the line of scrimmage. The athletic testing mixed with the admitted focus issues could absolutely lengthen the wait Dawson makes on draft weekend.

Round 3 (78): TE Clive Walford, Miami - The Saints keep hyping up Josh Hill, but Walford would be an interesting addition. There are occasional hands issues, but Walford can be a target at multiple levels and has some movement skills. He can be flexed in the slot or be used inline.

Round 5 (148): CB Quandre Diggs, Texas - Teams likely view Diggs in the slot. He looks comfortable working through trash, which is a difficult skill to master. Kenny Vaccaro also has experience at this spot.

Round 5 (154): DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Southern Miss - A personal favorite. RNR is an outstanding natural athlete and makes a ton of plays coupling it with a good motor. He loses backfield vision and lacks refined technique. Still, he offers depth in a sub package role.

Round 6 (189): WR Devante Davis, UNLV - Davis shines on contested catches and 50/50 situations. Continue adding pieces to the passing game.

Round 6 (202): OL Andrew Donnal, Iowa - A favorite of OL czar Lance Zierlein. Much of the focus is on Brandon Scherff, but Donnal has talent to be a utility lineman in the NFL.

Round 7 (230): EDGE Max Valles, Virginia - Eli Harold’s running mate. When focusing on Harold, Valles caught my eye with flash plays. But once focusing on Valles, I don’t think there is much there to work with. Some teams might see “upside.”


Saints Current Offensive Depth Chart


QB: Drew Brees

RB: Mark Ingram

WR: Brandin Cooks

WR: Marques Colston

WR: Nick Toon

TE: Josh Hill

LT: Terron Armstead

LG: Tim Lelito

C: Max Unger

RG: Jahri Evans

RT: Zach Strief


Saints Current Defensive Depth Chart


LE: Cameron Jordan

RE: Junior Galette

DT: Akiem Hicks

DT: Brodrick Bunkley

MLB: David Hawthorne

WLB: Dannell Ellerbe

SLB: Parys Haralson

CB: Keenan Lewis

CB: Brandon Browner

FS: Jairus Byrd

SS: Kenny Vaccaro

Source URL: https://www.nbcsports.com/edge/article/draft-analysis/nfl-draft-needs-saints-0