The New Orleans Saints should do something on April 27th that they rarely do: trade down.
With multiple holes to fill along the roster and a general disagreement—among fans, at least—as to who to draft with the 11th pick, the New Orleans Saints have an opportunity. They could trade down from 11 and land a few more picks down the draft board.
Obviously, if the Saints do choose to move down from 11, they won’t get a player of the same caliber as if they stayed put. And with a roster that so demands an instant contributor, that could be damning.
Well, actually, that might not be true. The Saints could theoretically trade down and still get the same guy they would get at 11. I’ll get to that in a minute.
There is no clear-cut favorite among fans and the media as to who the Saints should pick at 11. If anyone has emerged as the lead candidate, its DE Derek Barnett. Many suspect he might fall lower than 11 if the Saints didn’t pick him there, but we’ll work with the assumption that he wouldn’t.
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Defensive End does seem like the obvious position to go for at 11. But even though Barnett’s emerged as a sort of favorite, there are plenty of intriguing options around him. Taco Charlton, Charles Harris, Solomon Thomas are all solid candidates at DE. You could argue that all three have a higher ceiling than Barnett, and Harris especially fits the need of a pure pass-rusher more readily than Barnett.
And even then, many see the Saints going elsewhere with the 11th pick. They could jump on Christian McCaffrey, for example. I’m not knocking on McCaffrey. He’s easily the most exciting player the Saints could pick up. And if Reuben Foster or Haason Reddick were to fall, the Saints could pick either of the LBs. And you can never rule out QB, although I’d be surprised.
But that brings me to me to my big point. If the right pieces fall, the Saints could easily find a trade partner.
There are two scenarios, in my mind. In both, I see at least one quarterback off the board before the Saints pick. That could be to the Bills, the Bears, the Jets, or the 49ers. Between Trubisky, Watson and Mahomes, one of these teams will fall in love and pull the trigger.
The Saints pick before the Browns and the Cardinals, both teams interested in drafting a quarterback. The Browns, who pick at 12, will almost certainly go after a quarterback after grabbing up Myles Garrett with the first pick. That puts the Saints in an opportune position.
They could, if the Cardinals are interested, trade down to 13. They’d land some mid-to-late-round picks, and—here’s the beauty of that trade—would likely still have the same options at 13 as they had at 12.
Another option would be to trade down with someone like the Texans, who pick at 25. They need a quarterback badly, and would likely pull the trigger on a trade up if it meant landing someone they believed could lead their franchise. The question is: is there anyone in the class that they feel that way about?
The second scenario, in my mind: quarterbacks fly off the board early, and a player like Reuben Foster falls to the Saints at 11. This is the ideal scenario. While I could see the Cardinals trading up to land a quarterback, I’d absolutely believe they’d want to trade up to land a player like Foster. And they wouldn’t be alone. With the Saints recent additions to their linebacker group, they have much larger needs than an ILB, regardless of how talented Foster is. That wouldn’t excuse them from drafting another player if Foster is still on the board, but it gives them the freedom to explore a trade down.
If the Saints do manage to trade down, they could fill more of their holes.
I imagine the Saints will want to land two EDGE rushers, two or possibly three players in the secondary, a running back, an offensive lineman or two, and then possibly a fullback or a wide receiver. In the most exaggerated terms, that amounts to ten picks.
Now, for sure, the Saints aren’t going to feel a need to land ten picks. But if they somehow managed it, they have the roster holes to make the picks count.
Sean Payton and the front office seems to be taking a quantity-over-quality approach to the offseason, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that approach carry over to the draft. It’s worked in the past. Throw enough at the wall, and something will stick.
In this draft class, a great number of 3rd and 4th round picks would have gone in the 2nd round of earlier years. There’s great value to be had in those mid-rounds. And the Saints should do what they can to capitalize on that.