With the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft set to get underway in just over 24 hours, the New Orleans Saints are buckling down, mocking drafts and gathering information on rookies to prepare for different scenarios, according to GM Mickey Loomis.
However, one scenario I’d like to see the Black and Gold avoid is drafting a wide receiver in the first round. Taking a receiver would not be the end of the world — the loss of tight end Jimmy Graham and WR Kenny Stills makes the position a priority, but not top priority.
Amari Cooper or Kevin White would be a spectacular addition to the Saints’ high-powered offense with Drew Brees under center, but that would require a trade up, which if that happens, New Orleans would be foolish not to take one of the rookie class’ elite pass rushers — Leonard Williams, Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley.
The Saints have two picks to work with in the first round, the No. 13 and No. 31 overall. My ideal scenario is adding a pass rusher and either a nose tackle or inside linebacker.
I’m seeing numerous mock drafts around the internet that are sending receivers like DeVante Parker, Jaelen Strong and the troubled Dorial Green-Beckham to Sean Payton and company. Kevin White even lands down of the bayou, falling to pick 13 in Peter King’s (Sports Illustrated) mock draft. White would be tough to pass on, but that’s not going to happen at 13.
Look, Drew Brees is captaining that offense. He makes everybody around him better, and that’s an undeniable fact. As long as he has his protection, he’ll be just fine, hopefully toning down the turnover situation that agonized the team last year. What I’m trying to say is that the offense is in no danger, especially with the addition of center Max Unger and running back C.J. Spiller, who will likely be used in receiver situations.
The defense, on the other hand, was absolutely atrocious. I like to call it miscommunication on all ends of the spectrum. The run stop was awful, finishing 29th in the league. The pass rush was a no-show, which ultimately haunted the secondary in a unit that finished 25th in the NFL in pass defense. A healthy Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro along with the addition of Brandon Browner opposite Keenan Lewis gives the team a cushion there.
The middle of the field — interior linebackers, nose tackles, whoever you want to blame it on — couldn’t make a stop, unless his name was Curtis Lofton, who’s now playing in the Bay Area with the Oakland Raiders.
Do the New Orleans Saints really, truly hold a firm trust in David Hawthorne, Dannell Ellerbe (bouncing back from season-ending hip surgery), a bad Brodrick Bunkley and an inconsistent John Jenkins? After the projected first-round prospects in this year’s rookie class, the interior talent runs average, unless Clemson ILB Stephone Anthony falls to pick 44.
Remember, this is just my opinion. If the Saints have a shot at a Danny Shelton, an Eric Kendricks or a Stephone Anthony, they’d be foolish not to pull the trigger. These are guys that could come in and compete immediately as impact players, but of course there is no guarantee they’ll be available.
With a “best player available” mindset the likely scenario, a receiver could still fall into the hands of Payton and Loomis, but I see ways around that with the depth at that position and that fallout of defensive prospects after the first round.
Defensive tackles – Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown, Eddie Goldman.
Interior linebackers – Eric Kendricks, Stephone Anthony
Pass rushers – Leonard Williams, Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley, Alvin Dupree, Eli Harold, Owamagbe Odighizuwa or even Randy Gregory if the Saints can find a sense of trust and maturity in him.
One of these guys has to be a Saint in 2015. Odds are certainly good with two first round picks. Two of these guys in New Orleans would be a successful draft. Trading up to grab a Williams, Fowler or Beasley, who in my book is the best fit down on the bayou, is definitely something to consider and very intriguing, but a wide receiver can and should wait.
Again, this draft is deep with good wideout talent, especially in the second and third rounds (Brees will make them good), but the talent on defense dies down — the New Orleans Saints must take advantage of what they have and capitalize to bolster up that front-seven. The first round kicks off tomorrow at 7:00 PM CT.
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