The New Orleans Saints first round picks: After further review


In the end, we were all wrong. After countless mock drafts and prospect rankings, roughly 99 percent of all analysts (including yours truly) were way off target for the New Orleans Saints two first round picks.

Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Andrus Peat (Stanford) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number 13th overall pick to the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Quite simply put, the two first round selections by the Saints were far from being the sexy, attractive, and popular choices that everyone had hoped for. However, upon further review, there’s a lot to love about offensive tackle Andrus Peat and inside linebacker Stephone Anthony.

Like the vast majority, I scratched my head on the Andrus Peat pick. Personally, I thought that Danny Shelton would wind up falling to the Saints. After all, I had him mocked for the past month, and firmly believed that defensive tackle was one of the most glaring needs for the team.

Andrus Peat will be a tackle for the New Orleans Saints, and Sean Payton made that clear when he spoke last night. This doesn’t figure to affect Terron Armstead and Zach Strief immediately, and we could see Strief shift inside when it’s all said and done. Peat is an instant upgrade over Bryce Harris and Nic Becton, which bodes well if either starting tackle were to have concerns with injuries. Peat could see action similar to what Zach Strief saw prior to becoming a starter, lining up as the sixth option for the apparent ‘ground and pound’ attack in 2015. It makes sense. You lock up Mark Ingram for the next four years, bring in C.J. Spiller for some versatility, and need to protect Drew Brees as much as humanly possible.

Here’s what Payton had to say about Peat.

"Starting off with Andrus Peat, he was a player for us that obviously had a high grade. We feel like not only is he a good young athlete, but his upside, we feel, is tremendous, good size, great makeup, good character.  He has versatility to play either tackle position. We played around with possibly moving up, we were fortunate that he (Andrus Peat) was available at 13.  He is a player that we are real familiar with. David Shaw and I worked together back in Philadelphia.  We’ve had this player on an interview at the combine.  We’ve had him here on a trip.  For us, clearly, we felt like it was our highest rater player on the board at that time."

Dec 29, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Stephone Anthony (42) celebrates during the second half of the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

As per Sean Payton, Anthony figures to line up at the ‘Mike’ spot, which is what Curtis Lofton was for the past several years, and Jonathan Vilma before him. In a nutshell, the ‘Mike’ spot is regarded as the quarterback of the defense, and can be asked to perform a variety of tasks. Perhaps the most important trait Anthony brings to the table is the ability to cover, which is something the Saints haven’t had in quite some time. Anthony will easily put pressure on David Hawthorne, and the Saints could look to insert him immediately. Even if Anthony doesn’t start, they will certainly work him into the rotation. My only concern is ensuring that James Willis, not Joe Vitt, works with the Clemson prospect. It’s pivotal for his development.

Here’s what Payton had to say about Anthony:

"Stephone Anthony is another player that we have done a ton of research on. There are a handful of linebackers, really, that we felt that could play inside and potentially outside, all of which we feel like are real good players. But we like the makeup, his size, his flexibility, position flexibility, I think he can play either inside position. Again, a leader of their team and an outstanding season, great defense, right at the top of the country in defense, and a lot of prospects on that defense."

One thing that was stressed with these two picks that we can’t overlook is the praise of leadership and character, which is something that was severely lacking for the New Orleans Saints last year. When you think about the future of the Saints, the bottom line is that you potentially have two players who will be in the mix for the next five years (because of the fifth round option), and it addressed needs that existed.

This is where we have to trust Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and Jeff Ireland. No matter what prospect rankings enter the picture, ultimately the decision is made by the Saints front office. Clearly, the scouting department saw a lot out of these two prospects to entertain them in the first round. A lot of preparation goes into drafting a player, as there is the Senior Bowl, player interviews, the NFL Combine, college pro days, more interviews, and scheduled visits.

Just think about this, do you ever remember an attractive and popular choice in the first round of any NFL Draft winning the Super Bowl for a respective team?

For those who had their hearts broken by not taking an edge rusher or wide receiver last night, remember that the Saints have three picks today, and can easily nab some good talent.

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