The New Orleans Saints made many good decisions in the 2022 NFL Draft, but perhaps none better than this one: not taking a quarterback.
To pick a quarterback in the first round would have been an egregious mistake, but to pick a quarterback in any of the following rounds also would have been a bad idea.
Instead, the Saints made the right call by sitting back and watching their NFC South rivals gamble away their futures.
Only the Pittsburgh Steelers took a quarterback, Kenny Pickett, in the first round, but for the most part, this draft was not kind to rookie QBs as the others got picked much later than their projections.
The third round was one for the quarterbacks as three teams took QB prospects off the board: the Atlanta Falcons picked Desmond Ridder (74th overall), the Tennessee Titans picked Malik Willis (86th overall), and the Carolina Panthers picked Matt Corral (94th overall).
That’s two rookie quarterbacks the Saints could end up facing this year, but will the Saints regret their decision to snub QBs this draft year? Not one bit.
New Orleans Saints shed no tears over snubbing quarterbacks in 2022 NFL Draft
Instead of going down the QB route early, the Saints boosted their offense with elite wideout Chris Olave and offensive tackle Trevor Penning, two critical first-round picks that keep the team in “win now” mode.
Few can fault the Saints for trading up for Olave given that Drake London and Garrett Wilson were already off the board at the time. Jameson Williams presented too much of an injury risk and Olave was the only elite receiver remaining — unlike quarterback, the Saints NEEDED a starting wideout. That much was certain.
Past the first round, the Saints could have gone for a QB in the second round, but they wisely upgraded their cornerback unit with Alontae Taylor. Taylor himself may have been a bit of a reach, but taking a quarterback at that point would have been more so of a reach and a high-risk one at that.
Whereas the Falcons and Panthers craved a quarterback contingency plan, the Saints can get by with what they have for at least the upcoming season.
Jameis Winston’s recovery has been progressing well, and barring any setbacks the reformed Saints signal-caller can take the reins in his second year and lead his team back into the playoffs. Winning a Super Bowl may be out of the question, but Winston has proven he can string together more wins than say, Marcus Mariota or Sam Darnold, and the Saints still have a solid backup in Andy Dalton, should Winston miss time.
As the lowest risk option, NOLA could have traded up in the fifth round to pursue UNC’s Sam Howell, who went to the Washington Commanders at pick No. 144, but Howell would likely have just turned into the 2022 version of Ian Book.
With only five picks in the 2022 draft, the Saints were smart not to use one on a quarterback. They can always address the position next year.