The New Orleans Saints had just five picks in the 2019 NFL Draft and at the time of the draft, the picks weren’t praised much. Two years after the fact, however, the Saints proved they knew what they were doing.
Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus re-graded the 2019 draft classes and looked back at his initial grades for each team. For the Saints, he gave them a “below average” score for their five picks and was mostly critical of their lack of picks. Two years later, he mentioned he was wrong and changed their grade to “Excellent”.
Here’s what Renner had to say:
"Much of the Saints’ low grade at the time stemmed from their wasteful trades in prior years, which left them with minimal draft capital. The Erik McCoy and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson selections were both rock solid in retrospect. To get two quality starters with only Picks 48 and 105 is a massive win."
The New Orleans Saints 2019 draft class has been great.
As Renner mentions, McCoy and Gardner-Johnson were great picks, as both guys are starters and quite good at their positions. McCoy is currently the team’s starting center and he’s versatile enough that the Saints could move him over to right guard if they decide to put Cesar Ruiz at center instead.
Gardner-Johnson started 13 games last year and had 66 tackles, 13 defended passes, and an interception during his 15 total games. Renner notes that the Saints landing two starters at the selections they did is impressive and that’s what bumped this draft class’ grade way up.
The rest of the draft was just meh, as the Saints’ other three picks were Saquan Hampton, Alize Mack, and Kaden Elliss. Out of these three, only Elliss is still with the team, appearing in 18 games over his first two years.
Still, most drafts are mostly graded on the early-round picks and the Saints made the most of their selections on Days 2 and 3 (remember — They didn’t have a first-round pick in 2019). That’s all fans can really ask for when put in a situation like New Orleans was and they added impact players.
Hopefully, we’ll see a positive jump like this for the 2020 draft class, which didn’t get great marks from Renner in his re-grade of the 2020 draft classes for every NFL team.