Now that the 2022 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, it’s time to reflect on the players that the NOLA Saints acquired and the cost of acquisition for each.
One interesting case study is former Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave, who the Saints drafted in the first round with the selection obtained in the massive pre-draft trade with the Eagles.
The Saints subsequently moved up from the 16th pick to the 11th pick in the first round by giving the Washington Commanders their own third and fourth-round picks in this year’s draft.
With the 11th pick, the Saints finally solved their WR2 position with the selection of Olave, but were the assets the Saints gave up too much to land Olave?
Let’s examine both sides of this question…
Argument that NOLA Saints gave up too much
Once the final tally is done from both the Eagles’ and Commanders’ trades, the Saints essentially gave up a second-round pick, two third-round picks, and a fourth-round pick for the right to select Chris Olave in the first round this year.
Looking at the Saints’ draft history, these are the rounds where the Saints have excelled in the past under Mickey Loomis and Jeff Ireland. Current Saints players such as Michael Thomas, David Onyemata, Alvin Kamara, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Paulson Adebo were all selected in these rounds. Getting such valuable contributors on rookie-scale contracts was and, in the case of CJGJ and Adebo, still is immeasurable in terms of maintaining some semblance of salary cap compliance.
The trade with the Eagles, in particular, has now handcuffed the Saints as far as draft flexibility in the immediate future. Not having a 2023 first-round pick or a 2024 second-round pick may loom large if the Jameis Winston experiment fails to solidify the QB1 position in the coming seasons, especially with what is considered to be a strong QB class available in next year’s draft. The limited draft capital will now make a move up for players such as C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young in the 2023 draft nearly impossible.
The other question was whether the Saints traded up for the right receiver. At 11, the Saints had their choice of Chris Olave or Jameson Williams.
Williams likely would have been the first WR chosen in this year’s draft had it not been for an ACL injury suffered in the National Championship game. Only time will tell which of the highly-rated wide receivers from this year’s loaded draft class will be the best, but the parallel between Olave and Williams will be closely scrutinized as both were available to the Saints at 11.