Many of the NFL Mock Drafts released thus far have the New Orleans Saints taking Oregon DE Dion Jordan in the first round with the 15th overall pick. I personally love the choice, as he is a long (6’7″) and rangy player who is in the hybrid mold like a Jason Pierre-Paul. He could, however, use a few pounds, as he is only 241 right now. He projects well in Rob Ryan’s new 3-4 scheme though. Another important cog in such a defense is a good, aggressive, and rangy Free Safety.
The New Orleans Saints currently have 2 Free Safeties on the roster, both undrafted in 2011. Isa Abdul-Quddus and Rafael Bush are both young and one or both are probably worth the time it will take to train them. I personally think that it should be as an understudy though. The Saints have not enjoyed much success at the position since the departure of Darren Sharper.
Solutions for the matter like the one I’m about to propose are things only a writer and avid fan can dream of. So, in that vane, I dare to dream!
I’m suggesting that the New Orleans Saints trade a couple of their picks to trade back into the later part of the 1st Round to draft a local talent. Trading up to pick before the Falcons (30th) and the Ravens (32nd) would be best, and I’m hoping they’d take LSU Free Safety Eric Reid with said selection.
At 6’2″ 208 Reid has the size needed to take down defenders at the next level, and could even stand to gain 10-12 pounds to be better prepared to take down any tight ends that could come his way. He has been questioned at times for his “overaggressive” play, but the tenacity with which he plays would be huge for the Saints. The fact that Ryan and the rest of the New Orleans Saints staff could teach him better technique in the areas that he’s lacking coupled with his pummeling of wideouts after the catch a la Darren Sharper make it reasonable to think Rob Ryan could convince Sean Payton to trade away a few picks for proven talent.
Known for often trading picks for people they have their eye on, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the New Orleans Saints to do so again. An impact safety who could be an immediate starter is always worth the risk. It’s possible he wouldn’t pan out, but such is the risk with an all or nothing thing like the NFL Draft.
In an all or nothing league, taking risks is what it’s all about. Look at the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, for example, taking flyers on guys like Jacoby Jones and Colin Kaepernick – guys seen as none better than 2nd and 3rd round picks who paid tremendous dividends for their teams throughout the regular season and the playoffs. The possibility still remains for the New Orleans Saints finding their gem in later rounds, but without a 2nd round pick, a trade of one or two of their back end picks seems pretty likely, even if it’s not to jump back in to the 1st Round to take Reid.
With talk looming about a potential release of Roman Harper, (only 3 New Orleans Saints players made more than him last year: Drew Brees, Sedrick Ellis, and Jermon Bushrod) the Saints could be looking to add yet another safety via the draft in later rounds to be a backup for the incumbent Malcolm Jenkins. All this is speculation of course, but with a lot of potentially great players at positions of need for the New Orleans Saints, this might be a year to free up a bit of cap space so that they can chase a few earlier draft picks or make a move or two in free agency.
A lot of talk will be surrounding Rob Ryan and Sean Payton. Will their relationship pay dividends for the Saints who finished with a very mediocre defense in 2012? Or, will the switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme under a defensive coach with minimal success since 2003 cause the walls come crashing down around them? One thing is for certain, the buzz will be back in NOLA this year, and I can’t wait to see how the relationship between the two former Cowboys coaches plays out.