“What if” for the Saints in the 2021 NFL Draft?
As I alluded to in the beginning, the Saints were trying desperately to trade up significantly, even into the top ten.
Many pointed to this being for a cornerback, and head coach Sean Payton confirmed that they were targeting top cornerback prospects Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain. Both were productive in the SEC, are underclassmen, and tested tremendously at their pro days, so it’s easy to see what the Saints saw in them.
However, for a non-quarterback, there is no justification to surrendering future draft capital to move up to select a prospect. The variance at the cornerback position is high, and expecting rookie defenders to contribute significantly is often foolish. To sacrifice so much of your future in one prospect would have been a very ill-fated move, so the Saints caught a break here.
Yet, that’s not all! Apparently, there was interest in moving up for Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, with it being cited they had a deal with the Cardinals had he not been selected by the Patriots one spot earlier.
This is a more interesting case, yet with Jones projecting more as a mid-tier quarterback, and the Saints already having a cheap, competent bridge quarterback in Jameis Winston, trading away a future first-round pick for Jones, who needs an excellent supporting cast given some of his limitations, would have been a very tough sell.
Once again, it’s looking like the Saints caught a break by how the draft played out, though moving up for Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is another matter that would have been much more justifiable.