The New Orleans Saints came close to a second Super Bowl appearance in 2018. Does Drew Brees have enough left in the tank for another run?
The 2019 NFL Draft will once again find the New Orleans Saints looking for more pieces to surround future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees with, and with the right draft moves, they could find themselves right back in the NFC Championship game again.
State Of The Team
Where 2017 saw the Saints get back to their winning ways with a powerful draft class, 2018 saw that group grow up to really compliment veterans like Drew Brees and Cameron Jordan. The 11-5 finish and first-round playoff loss of 2017 gave way to a record of 13-3 and — as any Saints fan will tell you — come within one bad call of the Super Bowl.
The 2019 Season is shaping up to be a bellwether as New Orleans readies itself to make a go at life after Brees. There have already been some major transitions with the departure of Mark Ingram and Max Unger, and younger stars like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are beginning to come of age. How the Saints handle this year should give everyone an idea of how they’ll handle the next ten.
Total Draft Picks
The Saints have six draft picks in 2019, including two via trades with the Jets and Browns
- Round 2 (No. 62 overall)
- Round 5 (No.168 overall)
- Round 6 (No. 177 overall, via Jets)
- Round 6 (No. 202 overall)
- Round 7 (No. 231 overall, via Browns)
- Round 7 (No. 244 overall)
Top 3 Draft Needs
Tight end: Since the loss of Jimmy Graham in the trade that brought Max Unger to the Saints, New Orleans has had issues at the tight end position. By now, they should have snagged free agency’s golden egg, Jared Cook, but they’ll still need to bring in a rookie for the future. The Saints will get to choose from one of the best pools of tight end talent in several years.
Offensive Line: Starting left tackle Terron Armstead is one of the best in the NFL but definitely sits out more time than anybody is comfortable with. The right side of the line is set with Larry Warford at guard and Ryan Ramczyk at tackle. At center, Cameron Tom, Will Clapp or Nick Easton can man the spot as well as play either guard position. A solid utility man who can play guard and tackle to replace Andrus Peat and spell Armstead would be a good investment.
Wide Receiver: Since Brandin Cooks left for New England the Saints have not had a quality deep threat other than Ted Ginn Jr., who has issues with drops, injuries, and consistency. He’s also a bit long in the tooth, so an infusion of youth would be advisable. A sure-handed speedster who can take the top off defensive secondaries would be just what the doctor ordered to refresh a receiving corps leaning too heavily on Michael Thomas, although he’s shown he can handle it.
Top 3 Draft Targets
TE, Texas A&M
Not making a selection until the 62nd pick, deep in round two, the Saints would be lucky to get a player in the top five of their group at any skill position. Fortunately, this draft is deep at tight end. The target is Texas A&M’s Jace Sternberger. Failing to land Sternberger, the Saints can address tight end in the fifth or sixth round with LSU product and New Orleans native Foster Moreau.
What the Saints look for in offensive linemen is versatility and plug-and-playability. The program at the University of Wisconsin obviously does a good job of producing those types of players. Michael Deiter has played double-digit starts at tackle, guard and center. He projects guard/center at the next level but could play tackle in a pinch.
WR, Ohio State
The 2019 NFL Draft is not a great one for receivers, but it happens my favorite may be there at 62. That player is Ohio State’s Parris Campbell, who looked really good in college and is actually a little underrated going in the second round. That may change with the 4.31-40 he posted at the combine. If Campbell is off the board, South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel will do nicely.
Decision Maker (Or Who To Blame If Things Go Wrong)
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will be in the war room on draft day but the decisions are going to be going through head coach Sean Payton. Should things go bad, the buck stops with the head coach.
Best/Worst Pick In Current Draft Slot
Historically, who was the best pick and the worst pick based on where the team is currently picking.
The Falcons have had a pick fall between the 10th and 20th lots in the first round 12 times in franchise history. When looking at the best and the worst taken in the middle picks of the first round, it gets kind of tough to decipher the best.
Best Pick: Pat Swilling – Linebacker – Round 3 (Pick No. 60) in 1986 NFL Draft
Choosing the best pick near this draft slot isn’t easy, with a lot of names from which to choose, but Pat Swilling in the 1986 NFL Draft at pick 60 out of Georgia Tech is up there. 12 years in the league and with 107.5 sacks, five Pro Bowls to his credit make Swilling one of the biggest bargains in any draft.
Worst Pick: Stanley Jean-Baptiste – Defensive Tackle – Round 2 (Pick No. 58) in 2014 NFL Draft
Easily the worst in the neighborhood of 62 for the Saints is Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a defensive back out of Nebraska taken with the 58th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was freakishly athletic but no one can keep him on the field or get him a stat. He is playing with his sixth team in as many seasons and has been relegated to a practice squad player for most of his career.