Why the New Orleans Saints will make the playoffs: No. 7, Draft Class
By John Hendrix
It feels cliché saying it, but the New Orleans Saints had a very successful draft. It certainly feels hard to miss out on that honor when the team had their most draft selections in the Sean Payton era. The Saints had not had nine picks in any NFL draft since the 2002 season, well before Payton’s regime started.
The 2006 NFL Draft saw an injection of players that arguably ended up being the best draft class in New Orleans Saints history. This mix of players gained under Sean Payton’s first season ended up being a large success, as the majority of them would go on to start, help fuel playoff runs, and ultimately help bring home the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
May 28, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Stephone Anthony (50) during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
This year’s draft class feels like it could potentially replicate that type of success. The nine picks weren’t selected on talent alone, but with a lot of character and the complete package in mind. The selections helped address much of the Achilles heel on the Saints defense by nabbing players like Stephone Anthony, Hau’oli Kikaha, and P.J. Williams. Taking Davis Tull, Damian Swann, and Tyeler Davison in the later rounds helped bring a lot of depth to the table, and provides much-needed competition for veterans and other established players.
On the flip side, the Saints showed confidence in their offense despite losing staples Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Ben Grubbs, and Kenny Stills. The team only used three selections on offensive players. Of those choices, tackle Andrus Peat figures to be someone to contend for immediate playing time. Garrett Grayson could be the heir to the throne as the future starting quarterback for the offense. Marcus Murphy brings a certain skill set that screams a Sean Payton running back, but faces legitimate competition.
It wasn’t just the draft picks that turned heads, as the undrafted rookie class once again looks to be another great group. Wide receiver R.J. Harris headlines the list of promising talent, and he’s just one of the many who have shined in OTAs and minicamp. Along with Harris, the black and gold picked up top prospects like tackle Sean Hickey to give competition to players like Bryce Harris. Each of the undrafted rookies brought in have a unique and compelling back story, and I’d implore you to dig deep to learn about them.
It’s an exciting time for the New Orleans Saints, and we’re getting even closer to seeing these rookies in action with training camp approaching. Ultimately, we’re not sure who will crack the final 53-man roster, but one thing is evident. Competition will drive the entire roster of hopefuls wanting to make the final squad, and those who elect to fight for their spot will come out on top.
When it’s all said and done, the Saints roster may contain a lot more rookies than you think. In turn, that could give the team an extremely bright future over the next several years. Arguably, younger players have a lot of hunger and drive to succeed, and that’s what Payton’s team needs the most heading into 2015.
- No. 10, Revenge motivates all
- No. 9, Different attitude from the top down
- No. 8, Veteran leadership echoes Sean Payton’s message
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