Oct 11, 2014; Lexington, KY, USA; Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks offensive lineman Chase Regian (71) and Kentucky Wildcats defensive end Alvin Dupree (2) during the game at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky defeated Louisiana-Monroe 48-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Most important position to draft in the first round: We must draft an outside linebacker.
The Saints couldn’t cover tight ends in the past, but will be facing Greg Olsen (twice), Julius Thomas, Jason Witten, and Dwayne Allen. As of now, I am not comfortable with either LB covering anyone. The Saints could not generate pass-rush unless facing Byron Bell or bringing the house. No one on the front seven was commanding double teams and nobody won their one-on-ones. While I am confident that John Jenkins will plug the middle a lot better after a healthy offseason, I would not thrust Haralson, Edebali or even less in anything more than a situational role. Spencer was a great addition in my opinion and should be a good mentor but Junior Galette should see his snap count decrease. Bottom line, whether we end up getting a WLB like Shaq Thompson or Eric Kendricks late in the first or Bud Dupree at 13, I am more than fine with either option.
Personal selections for both draft spots: Bud Dupree and Shaq Thompson
I would go as far as taking two outside linebackers in the first round to turn a glaring weakness into a strength of this team.
Bud Dupree is already a stud against the run and will be able to set the edge and defend the read option and the annoying play calls the Panthers make. While not a polished pass rusher at this point, his learning curve will be steep and his athleticism makes him a chess piece in Rob Ryan’s defense. Dupree’s versatility (dropping back in coverage or playing 4-3 end on occasion) makes him all the more enticing of an option at 13.
Shaq Thompson will bring outstanding coverage ability to the table paired with great range. On top of that, he is a natural playmaker: causing fumbles, returning them and so forth. The Saints lacked those three traits in their linebacking corps in 2014. Shaq might be better suited as 4-3 WLB but one MLB in the 3-4 plays like a Will anyways. While I believe that Ellerbe will be a valuable addition to the locker room, counting on a player north of 30 and coming off a severe hip injury seems like a gamble I would not be willing to take.
One player you don’t want the Saints drafting: The Saints MUST NOT draft Shane Ray and Bernardrick McKinney
While Shane Ray’s (EDGE) production was off the charts in the competitive SEC, he will have a hard time transitioning to the NFL. His speed was not overwhelming, he is too small to be a 4-3 end. Ray’s agility (evidenced by a 7.70 seconds three-cone drill) was barely better than that of a defensive tackle, making him a mediocre one-trick pony at the next level. If the Saints drafted Ray at 13, you will find me crying underneath my bed and there will be a zero percent chance of me watching the rest of the draft. This guy has bust written all over him.
Bernardrick McKinney, LB, does look the part at 6’4” and 245 pounds but it is very telling that many teams believe he is better suited as a 4-3 end. The former Bulldog has got amazing size for a between the tackles run stuffer and more than adequate straight-line speed. However, he neither racked up a lot of tackles or made any plays to speak of. All that can be excused if he was to play in a Curtis Lofton-type role. But that might even be a very generous ceiling, given how weak McKinney’s upper body is (17 reps have press corner written all over it) thus allowing offensive linemen to take him out of nearly every single play. His agility will keep him from covering anyone and me from giving him a top 50 grade.
It all starts tonight. Who do you want the New Orleans Saints drafting? Is it trading up for a player? Who is the one player that can change this team instantly?