Could the Saints be targeting a linebacker in the first round?

The New Orleans Saints are entering the offseason with several holes and not enough money to fix them. They’ll have to turn to the draft to help fill some of those holes as they kicked off the offseason with the worst cap situation in the league.

The team has worked diligently to get under the cap.

From releasing Jared Cook and Thomas Morstead to restructuring Demario Davis and Cam Jordon — the Saints are going what they can to get the space needed to bring back their talented free agents.

They won’t have the cap to bring back all their talented free agents. Players like Trey Hendrickson are likely to part ways. Alex Anzalone is another player that isn’t expected to make a return. On top of that, who knows how well Kwon Alexander will be when he comes back.

After drafting Zack Baun in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Saints may return to the position with their first-round pick in 2021.

The Saints could use a solid linebacker. It feels as though they’d have better priorities with that pick, but solidifying their defense is just as important as anything else. While it feels unlikely that they draft a linebacker, they’re dropping hints that they might.

The Draft Network’s Justin Melo reported that the Saints have met virtually with Tulsa’s Zaven Collins.

Collins had four interceptions and over seven sacks in his junior season. He ended with 36 tackles as well. He was involved in just eight games though as Tulsa struggled in the American. Collins had played 12 each of the previous two years.

He has the potential to be one of the best linebackers in the draft. CBS Sports ranked Collins as the second-best linebacker prospect. They placed Penn State’s Micah Parsons as a top-five prospect and the top at the position.

While Collins could have an outstanding NFL career, it doesn’t seem like it’d make much sense given the Saints will have holes on the defensive line to address first. However, they have some interest.

No one was guessing Cesar Ruiz last season, so maybe the Saints go with a surprising prospect like Collins in the first round, assuming he’s available.