As the New Orleans Saints wrapped up this season in disappointing fashion, by losing to the Seattle Seahawks, it still stings a little to look back and break down film. When thinking of the lack of protection that Drew Brees had at times versus the newly crowned champion, one can safely say that the O-Line is to blame with all its mismatched parts and Terron Armstead as the bandaid who potentially return as Brees’ blind-side protector. However, I’d love to see the defense stack up more chips so that Rob Ryan can have his unit stay within the top-5 next year.
I will do my best to look at a position of need and predict who the New Orleans Saints might draft and what round they will pick up a player to fill that key role. Keep in mind, I am a fan, and that is short for fanatic. During draft time, I tend to get a little ahead of myself sometimes and fancy about these dream scenarios of players falling further than they should so that everything falls perfectly into the Saints’ laps without a single hitch. I know that’s not realistic, but in reality, there’s no real way of 100% accurately predicting who goes where anyway. That’s exactly why they’re called predictions. It doesn’t really matter if they’re outrageous or not, but it is fun to dream! You’d think this article would preview a player like Darqueze Dennard, Bradley Roby, or Jason Verrett, but it’s not. My dream scenario is much less obvious.
Position of need – CORNERBACK: Keenan Lewis was a fantastic free agent pick up, making just over $1 million in base salary this season. He was a true steal when you look at his 47 tackles, team-leading 4 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, and 11 passes defensed. Seeing as how he’s only 27, he should be a valuable piece in Ryan’s defense for the foreseeable future.
However, a bookend corner is likely going to be needed as Jabari Greer only played 10 games this season with very limited production (1 interception) – a lot of nothing for a guy who was thrown $4.5 million this year between base salary and bonuses. He tore his left ACL in November, and has played a full season just once since coming over from the Buffalo Bills in 2009. The fact that he’s 32 can’t be overlooked either. All this is to say, the New Orleans Saints need a cornerback…and fast.
I don’t want a prototypical guy with a first-round grade on him. You see how well that worked out in 2010 when the New Orleans Saints drafted Patrick Robinson. In the 44 games he’s played in since, he’s corralled just 7 INTs. He has managed to blow a ton of coverage and missed assignments. Oh, and we shouldn’t forget his 1 torn patella tendon.
I want a guy who comes in the mold of Richard Sherman. I want a former wideout, with a bit of a chip on his shoulder who will likely be passed at least once by every team before his draft day wait is over. I want a guy who isn’t afraid to get dirty in the trenches and likes the thought of jamming receivers at the line…Drumroll please…
I want Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Who, you ask? Well, let me break it down for you. First of all, his name already sounds like it belongs on the lips of Jim Henderson, doesn’t it? The Miami, Florida born CB played his college ball at Nebraska, and this Cornhusker is definitely corn-fed. Standing an imposing 6’3″ and tipping the scales at nearly 220 pounds, he’s got the physical build to make receivers shake in their shoes. If that isn’t enough to convince you, his 4.5 second 40 and the fact that he spent time as a wideout at the high-school and college level and knows the ins and outs of what receivers think, should.
Jean-Baptiste also had to fight for playing time, so he knows what it’s like to have to prove himself already. After transferring in 2009 from Fort Scott Community College in Kansas (former home of Lavonte David, Jason Pierre-Paul, and OU horse Brannon Green) as a redshirt, he transferred to Nebraska in 2010. He didn’t see any action that year, but played 9 games in 2011, starting 1 contest. He was given a bigger stage on which to shine in 2012, and started 5 of 14 games the Cornhuskers played. That year, Nebraska’s defense led the entire nation in pass completion percentage against, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste was a big reason why. He ended up leading the team with 9 pass deflections. That’s not bad for a guy who only started 5 games on the year.
This past year, he made enough waves to be voted to the 2nd-Team All-Big Ten team, a team selected by Big 10 coaches. He played in all 12 games, and had 11 pass breakups. He also managed a share of the team lead with 4 interceptions.
Some scouts have said that his tackling needs work, but all that should take is a bit of convincing him of just how much size could intimidate once he’s got the form and fearlessness to pair with it. You can’t coach height, and the areas in which he’s lacking can be coached up – especially by a hardheaded and strong willed character like Rob Ryan. It is possible too that he is fool’s gold, but only time could tell that. Also, I’m sure if he was a selection the Saints would make, his work ethic would be meticulously studied.
A selection of this ilk with possibly a second or third pick, instead of a first round pick, would be very nice. It would also leave the Black and Gold with the option of selecting Kony Ealy in the first round if he was still available at pick 27. At 6’5″ 275, his imposing size mixed with that of Stanley Jean-Baptiste would be a dream scenario. That’s just my take on things though.