What do the Saints need in the Draft?

Posted by | April 9, 2020 .

The Coronavirus has put the kibosh on many things this year. Namely, the livelihood of millions, sports, and fun in general.

We’re trapped in the house, waiting for anything to happen with sports. The NFL Draft will be a breath of fresh air. It’s already something that we look forward to each year. But this season, Thursday, it’s something we actually need as a community.

So, let’s look at the Saints’ Draft needs and possible early-round NFL picks starting on Thursday, April 23rd.

Top Team Needs for 2020 and Beyond
The consensus is pretty much unanimous that the New Orleans Saints need to shore up their defense at Linebacker. There is a lot of potential on the current roster, but there are also a ton of questions.

Both Craig Robinson and Demario Davis are going into the last season on their contracts. On top of this, there have been health issues with Kiko Alonso, Kaden Ellis, and Alex Anzalone. So, top talent at LB is a definite concern, even if to just get ahead of any future holes.

Sean Payton has been with the Saints since 2006. But the team has only taken a linebacker in the first round once – 2015– tending towards grabbing the middle of the defense in the middle rounds. But this year could be different. There is a need and there is some worthwhile talent on the board.

The Saints will probably get their first pick around No. 24 as long as trade values don’t swap around too much. Both Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray are players worth getting if available in the last third of the first round.

Another significant team need is at wide receiver. They just picked up Emmanual Sanders in free agency and although slightly out of his prime at 22, he’s still got great hands, decent wheels –4.41 40– and a ton of football IQ. This is a boon for the Saints. Even Sanders said that he’s waited years for a pass-happy offense. But they still need talent and depth at the position.

If the LB they are targeting is off the table, there is a high probability that they could snatch up Arizona State wideout, Brandon Aiyuk. He’s a productive, 6-foot-1, 206-pound receiver, with enough height to win many jump-balls and enough weight to lay licks on corners and safeties in the open field.

Whatever they do, they’ll have to make it count in the 1st round. They gave their 2nd-round pick to the Miami Dolphins, but do have a 3rd and 4th rounder waiting. So, we could NOLA hold off on a guy like Brandon Aiyuka and hope to pick up someone like Florida’s, Van Jefferson in the 3rd round. If Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen is still on the board when the No. 24 pick comes around, I suspect that this is the route Mickey Loomis and Sean Peyton will take. Heck, they could take Kenneth Murray over Patrick Queen due to his potential for captaining the defense. He’s one of those guys that can quickly diagnose plays and smash into run plays for short-yardage stops or stops behind the line of scrimmage. The one area he’ll have to work on is his pass coverage. He’s good, but it’s not nearly at the level of his run defense. He has the smarts, talent, and athletic ability to take his coverage to the next level at the next level. And no matter where he lands, he’ll surely end up a starter and make an immediate impact for his team.

Queen, on the other hand, was a member of perhaps the most devastating LSU defenses we’ve seen in years. He’s the youngest player in the draft and shows tremendous upside. The only real drawback to taking him is his experience. He’s got just one year of college play under his belt. Still, some compare him to Pro-Bowler, Telvin Smith.

My Mock Draft through 5 Rounds

Round 1 – Murray, OU or Queen, LSU
Round 2 – No Pick
Round 3 – Van Jefferson, Florida
Round 4 – Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
Round 5 – Kendall Coleman, Syracuse

Of course, this could get blown up if they trade back with a team like the Packers.