While there are still seven games remaining on the schedule, let’s not kid ourselves. The New Orleans Saints aren’t having the year they had initially hoped for. It’s not to say they can’t rebound, especially after a remarkable three-game winning streak that finally ended this past Sunday. But just a little past the halfway point of the season, Sean Payton and company have a 4-5 record and are sitting third place in the unsurprisingly revitalized NFC South.
The Saints are a young team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but there are handful of players who have potential, and they’ve shown it quite well through nine games in 2015. Still, there are multiple needs on defense the Saints must address this offseason. Some more glaring than others, the Black and Gold especially need to address the defensive tackle, pass rusher, and weakside linebacker positions.
On the offensive side of the ball, there aren’t near as many urgencies, but upgrades could be made, particularly at wide receiver and guard. There are still plenty of games left, which means room for potential growth and improvement, but sometimes it’s tough not think into the future and dream about the possibilities for the New Orleans Saints in the ahead offseason. The question is, how can they fix those problems in one offseason? Here’s my take on it.
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First, let’s talk free agency. No matter how cap-strapped the Saints are, they still manage to get some big names in free agency. Unfortunately, some haven’t met expectations, yet. Moving on, a reasonable start to the offseason would be giving quarterback Drew Brees a two-year extension and spread his cap number out between his three remaining years to help save cap space. That should make Mickey Loomis‘ job easier, giving him a better opportunity to land high-quality talent, such as New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson to add opposite Cam Jordan, or San Francisco 49ers guard Alex Boone, who would be an immediate upgrade from both Tim Lelito and the declining Jahri Evans. Having Boone next to Terron Armstead would solidify the left side of the offensive line on Drew Brees’ blindside.
It’s all wishful thinking, but another free agent idea is former New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker, an excellent rotational guy on the front who took his talents to Detroit this year after the Black and Gold failed to re-sign him. However, he is currently recovering from broken fibula surgery after suffering the gruesome leg injury in Week 4.
There are an abundance of free agent ideas and far too many to name, so we’ll jump ahead to some potential draft prospects. There really is no point in trying to guess who the New Orleans Saints will draft and where they will pick in the draft order with almost half the season remaining. Instead, I will suggest some players who they potentially acquire in the selection process to help fill needs.
If the Saints were to have a top-ten pick, three players would really come in handy in the Big Easy. Of course, the highly acclaimed Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss) would be a fantastic start. While Jaylon Smith (OLB, Notre Dame) and Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State) are also very intriguing names.
Nkemdiche would be the best fit as possibly college football’s most freakish athlete. He’s quick, strong, explosive and extremely athletic for his size, giving him flexibility along the entire defensive line. Bosa is a solid pass rusher and also pretty good against the run. Smith, in my opinion, is perhaps the most intriguing player out of the three. He excels in the pass rush and is good in coverage, which could benefit the Saints in many ways, especially if Dannell Ellerbe continues to be affected by injuries. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Saints ending up with a top-ten pick, which means they’d likely have to trade up.
Some more likely, and very talented options are A’Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama), Myles Jack (OLB, UCLA), Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss), Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama) Josh Doctson (WR, TCU) Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor) and Kenny Clark (DT, UCLA). Other players to keep an eye on past the first round who could also come in and help fill needs are Vadal Alexander (Guard, LSU), Adolphus Washington (DT, Ohio St), Greg Pyke (Guard, Georgia), O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama), De’Runnya Wilson (WR, Miss St), Hunter Henry (TE, Arkansas), Tyler Boyd (WR, Pittsburg), Tajae Sharpe (WR, Umass) Sheldon Day (DT, Notre Dame) and Roberto Aguayo (K, FSU)
A dream scenario would be to pick up Muhammed Wilkerson and Alex Boone in free agency, then draft Myles Jack, Adolphus Washington, and De’Runnya Wilson. Again, it’s wishful thinking, but at the same time, it’s fun to think about with this season in question.
Obviously, it’s early and there is still a ton of football left on the agenda before the New Orleans Saints even think about next year’s possibilities. It’s one game at a time, and there is much that could change from now until the offseason. But for us, getting an early jump and looking ahead doesn’t hurt.