Despite having two picks in the first round, the New Orleans Saints didn’t get the pass rusher fans so badly wanted. Instead, they got Ryan Ramczyk.
Some Saints fans are skeptical. You’ll note that the team’s writers are not. And I suspect even the most skeptical fan sees the value in the Ryan Ramczyk pick.
There are two clear arguments for the choice, and both have to do with that ever-important draft tool, the big board.
First of all, Ryan Ramczyk was the best player available. And the Saints did what all teams should do: they put aside roster needs and selected the player at the top of their board. Failure to do that is what pushed Marshon Lattimore into their laps at 11. The Titans and the Chargers both reached on receivers because of need. (Who knows what the Bengals, deep at receiver, were thinking…) That was enough to land the Saints the top CB in the class.
And the Saints do have a need at OT. Zach Strief is 33, and Terron Armstead is an injury waiting to happen. The Saints ran a lot of 6OL sets in 2016, and after adding Adrian Peterson will likely continue that trend. Ramcyzk could even win the starting job straight up this offseason — he’s that good.
And second, equally important, is that the board still has a huge list of defensive talent. There aren’t many tackles in the draft. And if a run began in the mid rounds, the Saints could suddenly find themselves going home empty at a position that they badly needed to address.
Remember, the Saints are on the clock again in just ten picks. And with the defensive talent still on the board, there is sure to be a DE worthy of the pick at 42.
Chris Wormley, Daeshon Hall, Tarell Basham, Demarcus Walker, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Derek Rivers, Tim Williams, Tyus Bowser, Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson just to name a few.
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Any number of those guys could be a great value at 42, and could POTENTIALLY drop to 76. Not many of them will. But that’s a lot of EDGE talent and some great players will be available in the third round of this deep, deep draft.
Ideally, the Saints can land someone like Carl Lawson with the 42nd pick. He could come in and compete right away for the starting DE position. The Saints only have Alex Okafor as a sure thing at DE opposite Cam Jordan, so taking an upside player like Walker or Williams might be a bit tricky. But they could go that route and land a pass-rush specialist that can come on the field on third-downs, at least early in his career.
The Saints have options at defensive end. Considering they didn’t land a top prospect, they’ll likely double-dip. But they made the right choice. They didn’t reach on a player because of need, and instead landed one of the top OT prospects, arguably THE top OT prospect, in the class. At the end of the first round. That doesn’t happen. Consider it a steal.