How New Orleans’ Front Office Got Here
As mentioned, Brees’ consistent play over these years is by far the most important piece to the Saints’ success. However, that’s not to say key signings and selections aren’t that far less of important steps on the ladder. As mentioned, the drafting of Thomas and Rankins have turned out very well. That speaks especially for Thomas, as the soon-to-be-NFL-sophomore looks to be an excellent and electric weapon for Brees. Vonn Bell, last season’s second round selection, provides a boosting backup and potential starter at the safety position.
The 2015 drafting of offensive tackle Andrus Peat also looks key. Peat’s potential protection at the tackle or guard position for Brees will be huge for the next couple of seasons and beyond. Stephone Anthony, a once bright spot in the linebacking corp, was selected 18 spots after Peat. 2014 saw the team swing and (kind of hit) with Cooks (traded) and absolutely missed with Stanley Jean-Baptist (played only 4 games for New Orleans).
However, 2013 saw a few selections players still playing key roles on the squad.
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Kenny Vaccaro was the 15th overall pick. Since arriving in New Orleans, he has been a high-flying and hard-hitting safety/nickel combination. 3rd round selection Terron Armstead was and still is a dominant offensive lineman. He needs to find a way to stay on the field to lower Drew Brees’ 5th highest sack rate in the NFL. John Jenkins helped anchor down the defensive line (3rd round pick) and Kenny Stills was a nice weapon before being traded to Miami (5th round pick). Danelle Ellerbe was attained in that same trade, easily giving the Saints an upper hand.
With all of those players still performing well on the team, 2017 offseason signings are perhaps even more important. Linebackers AJ Klein, Manti Te’o and Alex Okafor have been brought on to help out a historically awful defense. Tee Ginn, Jr. looks to become a speed-man in the passing game. Larry Warford comes from Detroit, and fans hope he can provide Pro Bowl-level play at the guard position. Re-signing Nick Fairley, Sterling Moore, and Travaris Cadet, among other returning players, also shows roster confidence and consistency with Loomis and Payton as discussed in my previous piece.
Taking all of these draft selections and recent signings into consideration, this team is looking sharp.
The Saints compete in a difficult division but have improved tenfold just over the last few months. Now, with the draft two weeks away, the Saints have nowhere to go but up thanks to great positioning of picks.