Apr 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; St. Jude
The New Orleans Saints were what you could call productive over the course of the 2013 NFL draft. At first glance, the team hit on as many pressing needs as it could with as much quality as possible.
Things are going to slow down for the next few weeks, but now is as good of a time as any to look back at the Saints draft class as a whole and assign grades to each selection.
As always, we would love to hear what you think, so be sure to let your voice be heard in the poll below.
1st round, 15th overall: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Apr 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) is introduced as the number fifteen overall pick to the New Orleans Saints during the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to hate this pick no matter how you slice it. New Orleans found the best player in an entire draft class at a position of need, and that’ can be difficult to do picking outside of the top 10.
Vaccaro is an instant game-changer for the Saints who has experience playing all three positions in the defensive backfield. He’ll likely start from day one next to Malcolm Jenkins and help to make fading veteran Roman Harper an afterthought, especially after his miserable 2012 campaigh.
New Orleans could have went with the popular pick here in Jarvis Jones, but the rest of the draft class proves the coaching staff has confidence in Junior Galette, Victory Butler and Co. to get the job done in the pass-rushing department.
3rd round, 75th overall: Terron Armstead, T, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Feb 23, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Arkansas-Pinebluff offensive lineman Terron Armstead takes a rest on the bench after participatin in on the field workouts during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Here you have another pick that is hard to dislike. Head coach Sean Payton is known for taking raw talents along the offensive line and making them into solid players.
That could be the case with Armstead here.
He’ll push for a starting job thanks to his sheer athleticism alone. Drew Brees can make mediocre offensive linemen look great thanks to his quick release, so a long-term project like Armstead is a solid pick. He may not have an immediate impact as a high-quality player, but as far as filling a need with value goes, the Saints were not going to do much better at this spot.
3rd round, 82nd overall: John Jenkins, NT, Georgia
Mar 21, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman John Jenkins runs a drill during Georgia pro day at the University of Georgia. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
This was the surprise of the draft for the Saints as the team packaged its own fourth-rounder with another acquired by shipping Chris Ivory to the New York Jets in order to trade up with the Miami Dolphins to make Jenkins the pick.
Jenkins is a massive defensive tackle who fits perfectly as the nose tackle for the Saints as the unit rolls out its new 3-4 scheme. Jenkins has battled weight and effort issues in the past, but it’s hard to imagine that will be tolerated under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
At worst, Jenkins backs up Brodrick Bunkely for a year. However, don’t be shocked if he makes a strong case for the starting spot this preseason.
5th round, 144th overall: Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma
Dec 01, 2012; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Kenny Stills (4) reacts during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Oklahoma won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
With the departure of Devery Henderson to free agency, the Saints offense found itself without a reliable deep threat at the slot receiver position.
That changed in a hurry after Stills received a phone call from Sean Payton.
Joesph Morgan is still on the roster, but Stills is a prototypical slot receiver with 4.3 speed and sure hands. He’s a big play guy who will flourish while catching passes from Drew Brees. Despite being a fifth-round pick, he is another guy in the draft class who could sneak his way into significant playing time this preseason.
6th round, 183rd overall: Rufus Johnson, DE, Tarleton St.
Johnson is an intriguing prospect because he could play at outside linebacker as a pass-rusher, but is also heavy enough at 270 pounds to put on a little more bulk and play defensive end.
Either way, the Saints coaching staff was obviously intrigued by what he flashed on film, which was a natural ability to get to the quarterback.
What’s confusing about the pick here is Johnson likely would have slipped into undrafted free agency. The Saints could have actually taken a better value here in some of the guys they ended up signing in free agency such as Kevin Reddick and Chase Thomas, but it’s a moot point now.
Overall Class Grade: B