New Orleans Saints Draft Needs
The bounty scandal was too much for the Saints to overcome in 2012. The team showed some fight after opening the season with four straight losses, but when it was all said and done they finished up at 7-9. The effects of the bounty scandal will still be felt in the upcoming NFL draft, as the Saints don’t have a second round pick because of it. New Orleans has been relatively quiet in the offseason to this point, leaving them plenty of work to do in the upcoming NFL draft. After how bad the Saints defense was last season, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see that I have four of their top five biggest needs on that side of the ball.
The Saints lost starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod to the Bears in free agency and I haven’t been all that impressed with right tackle Zach Strief. Regardless if they feel like backup Charles Brown is capable of protecting Drew Brees’ blind side, they need to invest in some depth at here. So much of what the Saints do offensively relies on the passing game. Despite how much they need to improve the defense, their top priority needs to be making sure Brees is protected.
The Saints are transitioning to more of a 3-4 look this season and are in desperate need of someone who can come off the edge and put pressure on the quarterback. If LSU’s Barkevious Mingo is still on the board in the first round, I think it’s a no-brainer. If Mingo isn’t available they could look at someone like Georgia’s Alec Ogletree or Jarvis Jones or wait and hope they can fill this need with their pick in the third round.
In order to run a successful 3-4 defense, you have to have a dominant nose tackle who can free up the linebackers to make plays. Finding someone who can eat up blocks inside could do wonders for the Saints run defense, as they have two outstanding inside linebackers in Jonathan Vilma and Curtis Lofton.
For a defense that couldn’t get off the field, the Saints actually have a pretty good core of corners to work with. They bring back Patrick Robinson and Jabari Greer and have added in Keenan Lewis. However, I still think they need to be in the market late in the draft, especially given how deep the corner class is this year.
This isn’t a pressing need at the moment, as the Saints have a couple solid veterans in Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins, but there’s not a whole lot of depth behind them and I think it would be wise to bring in someone late who they can develop.
4. Running Back: The New Orleans running game wasn’t as good last season and the offense wasn’t as explosive because of it. Reggie Bush isn’t an every-down back and has not been very durable. Pierre Thomas also missed extended time with injuries last season. Chris Ivory showed some potential but questions remain as to whether he is an every-down player. With this in mind, the Saints may want to consider taking a player like Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter with one of their third round selections.
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