After the first round, many fans were calling out in disgust at the New Orleans Saints failure to land a defensive end. While those calls were entirely ridiculous for the first round, they gained some legitimacy through this second day.
The New Orleans Saints left their fans mystified when, pick after pick, they passed on what is clearly their biggest need. And EDGE rusher. And with so many players in this range that fit the bill, there’s some real reason for puzzlement. But we need to give the front office the benefit of the doubt. Remember, we haven’t seen these guys play a single snap.
On paper, the Saints did a remarkable job of addressing essentially every one of their pressing needs in these first two days.
They got a CB, an OT, a RB, a S, a cover LB and a pass rusher. You’ll note that that’s one more player than the Saints had picks coming into the second day. That’s because they traded up into the third.
Yet somehow, amazingly, the team failed to land a possible starting defensive end throughout the entire first two days. They did land a defensive end with their last pick in the third round. But he figures to be a pass-rush specialist rather than a base defensive end.
For some fans, that alone is the nail in the coffin for this draft. I’ve talked to well-respected guys that wanted the team to sell out their picks to move up in the first to land one of the higher rated DE prospects. I don’t quite understand who they had in mind for that move, but the idea was clear: the Saints need a game-changing talent at DE. And they failed to land even a projected starter.
I think, before I get into the draft picks, that it’s important to note a counter argument to this logic.
The Saints were close to competency on defense last year. And that’s with an injury-devastated secondary and linebacker corps. They’ve since added Lattimore and a 2nd round safety, and will have a healthy Breaux and an older Bell. They added A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o and drafted a cover linebacker. Ellerbe is, for the moment healthy. Not to mention their CFL transplants. That’s upgrades all across the board.
Now, let’s take a look at that defensive line. Cam Jordan played through a knee injury all year. Tyeler Davison played through a shoulder injury. Sheldon Rankins missed the first half of the year and will have a full season under his belt. Alex Okafor is still somewhat of an unknown, but remember. The Saints played Paul Kruger all of last year. Kruger was absolutely atrocious. And Hau’oli Kikaha, while he can’t be relied on, has a chance to make an impact. Even without drafting an EDGE rusher, this defensive line improved.
Anyway. Let’s take a look at the picks.