Former NFL exec has Saints taking a unique approach in first round of 2024 NFL Draft

With the 2024 NFL Draft just a few weeks away, most analysts agree on the first-round approach for the New Orleans Saints. A former exec sees it differently.
Washington v Oregon State
Washington v Oregon State / Tom Hauck/GettyImages

With just a few weeks to go before the 2024 NFL Draft, teams are getting more clarity on their draft boards, envisioning the selections they hope to make. Many analysts and fans are also zeroing in on their projections. With teams’ needs pretty clear, it’s becoming clear what direction certain franchises will go early in the draft.

For the New Orleans Saints, the expectation is that they’ll draft an offensive tackle in the first round at No. 14. Andrus Peat, who started at left tackle last season for the Saints, is still a free agent, and no one knows if Trevor Penning is ready to takeover after being benched last season. Additionally, right tackle Ryan Ramczyk is dealing with a knee injury that has his future in doubt. Because of those circumstances, the majority of mock drafts have New Orleans selecting an offensive tackle with the 14th-overall pick.

A former NFL exec, however, predicts that the Saints will take a different approach in the first round. Mike Tannenbaum, who held several different roles for NFL teams from 1994 to 2018, including general manager, is now with ESPN. He recently did a first-round mock draft, approaching each pick as if he was the general manager for the team on the clock. For New Orleans, Tannenbaum said he would draft Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze at No. 14.

Saints select WR Rome Odunze in recent mock draft

Tannenbaum admits that offensive line is the bigger position of need for the New Orleans. However, he argues that Rome Odunze still being on the board is too good for the Saints to pass up, especially since the team also needs to add another receiver in the draft. So Tannenbaum would select Odunze, adding him to a receiver room with Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed.

Odunze is a 6-foot-3, 212-pound receiver that ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. However, speed isn’t his game. As Tannenbaum points out, Odunze is physical at the catch point, drawing comparisons to Terrell Owens. In Odunze’s final season at Washington, that physicality led to him catching 92 passes for 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns.

He’d certainly be a welcome addition to the Saints, but selecting him in the first round would mean neglecting the team’s desperate need for a tackle. It is a deep tackle class, though, so New Orleans could select a tackle in the second round at pick 45. However, it’ll be fair to ask if the second-round tackle will be as prepared to start from day one as a first-round tackle.