New Orleans has a luxury that most teams don’t have, a solid offense with little need for improvement.
What they do have is a poor defense that is in desperate need of an overhaul.
Hopefully the team drafts wisely this year, stays with defensive picks, and keeps Payton away from adding a new offensive weapon.
So on the eve of the draft we will discuss what the teams most pressing needs are by position and debate what the Saints may do to address them.
Linebacker: The addition of MLB Jonathan Vilma last season was a huge success - he lead the team in tackles and became the leader of the defense. There are still enormous holes to his left and right, positions held by starters Fujita and Shanle. Neither are bad linebackers – they are just okay and okay is no longer good enough. The re-instatement of Dan Morgan is a good sign but his impact on the team is questionable at this point. The Saints could use an upgrade and what better way to do this then by adding a young aggressive linebacker in the draft. At the Saints 14th pick such players as Maualuga, Cushing, Matthews, and Laurinaitis will be available.
Safety: The addition of Darren Sharper in free agency was a huge boost to the teams secondary – but he alone cannot turn it around. Safety is probably the thinnest position for the Saints and they desperately need to add some depth. It is a possibility that Malcolm Jenkins will be available for the Saints if they stay at 14. Jenkins is arguably the best corner in the draft and many feel he can be a pro bowl performer in his first year as a safety. If the Saints can grab him that’s exactly how they plan on using him – in a safety role. They can always trade down and acquire additional picks, pick up a linebacker at the bottom of the first round, and look to add a safety in the second round. Oregon’s Patrick Chung or Western Michigan’s Louis Delmas should be available there.
Center: After the departure of Jeff Faine to the Buccaneers backup center Jonathan Goodwin took over the starting role. Goodwin is okay at best and by no means is he considered a dynamic player. Known more for his pass blocking ability he is not so strong at supporting the run – a sore spot for the Saints last season. Centers Max Unger, Alex Mack, and Jonathan Luigs are all available in this years draft. Unger is projected as a low first round pick so its doubtful the Saints can get him. It’s hard to say if Mack will be available in the fourth round where the Saints have two picks, if so I would expect them to jump all over him. Luigs, in my opinion, is the best run blocking center in this draft and should be available around round 4.
I know what your thinking, how could I not mention running back or corner. Well, I think the Saints have done a great job of addressing the corner position in free agency.
The signing of Jabari Greer was a solid move – he is a very energetic and talented corner. Tracy Porter is coming back from injury and as we all know Porter looked outstanding in his five 5 starts last season
I’m not worried!
Running back is a little more complicated though . I admit it would be nice to have Knowshon Moreno in the black and gold as well as Beanie Wells. Is it needed? No, I don’t believe so. We can score points without a new back.
After all we have Bush, Thomas, Bell, and Hamilton on the roster. Not to mention the recent addition of full back Heath Evans – he should be able to get those tough yards that plagued us last season.
It will be interesting to see what New Orleans does in the draft – there are allot of options available to them and I hope they can make a dollar out of fifteen cents – with only 4 picks it’ll be tough.