What should the New Orleans Saints do with the 12th overall pick?

Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Linebackers stand in line waiting for their turn for the workouts during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Linebackers stand in line waiting for their turn for the workouts during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

As we roll into April, let the great debate ensue about what position and what specific player the New Orleans Saints should take at No. 12 overall in the NFL Draft.

The team will have its sixth pick inside the Top 15 tier under Sean Payton. While not all players have been a hit for the Saints, the current thought is that their fortune should continue to shine in a positive light with Jeff Ireland set to make his mark for the second straight season. However, what kind of value has been there at 12th overall over the years? After doing some homework, I’ve compiled a list of all No. 12 draft picks since Payton entered in 2006.

2015 – Danny Shelton, DT (Cleveland Browns)

2014 – Odell Beckham, WR (New York Giants)

2013 – D.J. Hayden, CB (Oakland Raiders)

2012 – Fletcher Cox, DT (Philadelphia Eagles)

2011 – Christian Ponder, QB (Minnesota Vikings)

2010 – Ryan Mathews, RB (San Diego Chargers)

2009 – Knowshon Moreno, RB (Denver Broncos)

2008 – Ryan Clady, T (Denver Broncos)

2007 – Marshawn Lynch, RB (Buffalo Bills)

2006 – Haloti Ngata, DT (Baltimore Ravens)

Arguably, eight of the last ten picks have made their mark in the NFL in a positive fashion. You have to like those odds if you are the New Orleans Saints, who desperately need to take the right talent with their first pick in the draft.

There are several theories that continue to present themselves as to what the right approach should be for the black and gold.

Trade Back

In all honesty, this could be a very realistic scenario for the Saints. Filling the needs on defense puts the team in a situation where they don’t have to take anyone at No. 12, which in turn could make for some eager teams behind them to trade up to take their guy. According the draft chart, the pick holds a value of 1200 overall.

What does that mean? Quite simply put, it’s a system devised by head coach Jimmy Johnson, who came up with the chart in the early 1990s with the Dallas Cowboys. For example, the Saints could trade down several spots to No. 18 (900 points), and then by picking up that team’s second-round pick at No. 50 (400 points), that could call for a fairly even trade according to the draft chart. However, there’s no guarantee that they’d acquire that type of value.

Offense – Defense

There’s a great disturbance in the force. Saints fans have become increasingly open and receptive to the team taking Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell in the first round, and then taking a defensive tackle or pass rusher in the second round. However, there’s a clear line in the sand. Fans either want Treadwell or don’t, and there’s no in between. So, a scenario in my recent mock draft had the Saints taking Treadwell at No. 12 overall and getting Louisiana Tech’s Vernon Butler at No. 47, which could be how things could play out.

Defense – Offense

For those not on the Treadwell bandwagon, and it’s clear that there’s plenty of fans out there with little to no interest, then an alternate reality could exist where the Saints address the defensive side of the ball first and then take a receiver next. Depending how the chips fall, the team could land a defensive tackle like Andrew Billings, Sheldon Rankins, and some other hopefuls, and then use their second-round pick on a wide receiver like Ohio State’s Michael Thomas or TCU’s Josh Doctson.

Defense – Defense

When you keep having one of the league’s worst defenses, something has to change. Despite adding Nick Fairley in free agency, likely switching around players, and adding three promising veteran linebackers to the mix, the thought is that you can’t have enough help. It’s hard to rule out the good sense it makes to commit both picks to improve defensively, and it could add any combination of a defensive tackle, pass rusher, weak side linebacker, and cornerback.

While we’re less than a month away from April 28 and not even having the assurances that the New Orleans Saints are finished in free agency, the theories will continue to be debated upon as to what the team should do at pick No. 12.