To make a Super Bowl run this year, the Saints needed to tie up a few loose ends. One was accomplished with the team’s trade up for Marcus Davenport.
From Baker Mayfield going over Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen to Denzel Ward going over Bradley Chubb and to Rashaad Penny and Sony Michel going over Derrius Guice, the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft was shocking. The “quarterback shuffle” within the first ten selections opened many doors. One of those doors benefited our New Orleans Saints.
With seven of the first ten overall selections going to offensive players, the Saints became much more attracted to the idea of trading up. Pick eleven went to a safety and 12 & 13 were both defensive tackles. This prompted Mickey Loomis to pick up the phone. The Saints dealt their 27th overall and 157th overall picks this season, along with their first round selection next year, to the Packers for the 14th slot.
On paper, it looks like New Orleans gave up quite a lot to just move up 13 spots. However, they were able to land the second best edge talent of the 2018 NFL Draft in Marcus Davenport. Davenport, who stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs 265-pounds, is a steal of a talent for the Saints. Whether or not they gave up too much for Davenport has yet to be determined, but it is clearly a “win now” move for the Saints.
The MarCam Javenport era
Hailing from the University of Texas-San Antonio, Davenport’s family actually has roots in New Orleans. Davenport started every game but four during his four-year stint with the Roadrunners, who have only had a football program for seven years. Davenport totaled 185 total tackles, 37.5 tackles for loss, 21.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles. This includes his 8.5 sack, 3 forced fumbles senior season of 2017, which solidified his position atop draft boards.
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As our own Roy Anderson points out, Davenport is not a project player. He has the size, instincts, and athleticism to succeed right away in the league. Luckily for the Saints, Davenport doesn’t have to be “the man” on the front-seven right away. In fact, despite Davenport’s massive amount of talent, he’s not even close to being the best defensive end for New Orleans. That title belongs to Cameron Jordan, a first-rounder-turned-All-Pro.
For roughly four seasons now, helping out Jordan on the defensive line has been a huge target for the Saints. It’s why they drafted Sheldon Rankins 12th overall in 2016, signed Nick Fairley to a large contract during the 2016 offseason, signed Alex Okafor, drafted Trey Hendrickson last year and attempted to sign Ndomakong Suh last month.
Now, it looks like the help has come to fruition. The combination of Jordan and Davenport – a duo in which I like to dub as MarCam Javenport – will be wreaking havoc on quarterbacks and offensive linemen for years in the Big Easy.
Once Davenport’s game fully develops, he could be matching Jordan’s sack total from last year (13.0) and become a Pro Bowler himself. We know what Jordan is capable of, and he might not have hit his peak yet. Combine that with the depth of Okafor, Hendrickson and Al-Quadin Muhammad. New Orleans, barring injury, is now on lock at defensive end. Filling out the rest of the D-Line is, of course, Rankins, who will see far less double teams this season and beyond. He and Tyeler Davison will have so many more opportunities to attack the ball now.
The rest of the roster also looks great
2017 was a boom in secondary production for New Orleans. It stems from Marshon Lattimore, who went 11th overall to the Saints in 2017’s Draft. Ken Crawley’s improvement of play throughout the year helped solidify the cornerback position, which had been lacking for decades. The only major loss from that secondary corps this year was Kenny Vaccaro, who was pre-replaced by veteran Kurt Coleman. The Saints should consider targeting a CB or FS for depth purposes this draft, but it looks fantastic on paper either way.
Two other groups of positions could use some depth help: offensive line and linebackers. The Saints signed Demario Davis last month for the LB corps, and still have A.J. Klein, Manti Te’o and Alex Anzalone. But an injury could happen at any point and the Saints wouldn’t be in great luck. Unless, of course, they pick up an extra body sometime soon.
For the offensive line, the same thing could happen: injuries always spell bad luck. And, with Terron Armstead’s contract/age becoming a possible problem for the future, addressing it now is the smartest plan.
The final glaring issue deals with who will be catching passes from Drew Brees. The addition of Cam Meredith is nice, but he’s essentially replacing the already-lost Willie Snead. Adding a slot and/or possible number two receiver, along with a much better (and cheaper) tight end, could go a long way for New Orleans.
Other than those four spots, the defense and entire team really, for New Orleans looks to be set up for major success. In fact, I would go as far and say that the roster is in Super Bowl contention. One huge hole was filled in the first round of the draft, and some may be addressed within the next two days as well. Very impressive, and promising, for a team who was one play away from the NFC Championship game last year.
Welcome to the team, Marcus!