In the 2018 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints traded up for Marcus Davenport. We will now explore alternate realities where the Saints went a different route.
In the 2018 NFL draft, the New Orleans Saints made the perplexing decision to trade a future first round pick as well as a 2018 fifth-round pick in order to move up and select UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport. In the twilight of Drew Brees' career, General Manager Mickey Loomis and company decided to use precious draft capital on a small-school project defensive end rather than fortifying the team with a player ready to contribute or planning for the future at the quarterback position. It was a move that ultimately backfired and led to the Saints allowing the often-injured defensive end, and his 0.5 sacks in 2022, to leave via free agency to the Minnesota Vikings. This decision can be directly tied to the Saints inability to reach a second Super Bowl as it prevented those draft assets to be used in more efficient ways to fortify an already strong New Orleans team. Here are three potential alternate realities directly tied to that decision that could of led Saints fans to be chanting "Two Dat!".
Alternate Reality #1 - Saints stay at pick 27 and select South Dakota St tight end Dallas Goedert
New Orleans struggled to replace the production of tight end Jimmy Graham when a contract negotiation standoff led to him being traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Goedert, who carried a late first-round grade, became a major piece for quarterback Jalen Hurts in their run to Super Bowl LVII. Instead, as a consequence of the Davenport trade, the Saints were forced to play the trifecta of Jared Cook, Josh Hill, and Dan Arnold.
Everyone remembers the famous no-call the following season in the 2019 NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams. However, it was Dan Arnold who dropped a touchdown pass on the opening drive that led to New Orleans settling for a field goal, points that would a played a major role in how the end of the game played out. The following season, Jared Cook fumbled in the 2020 Divisional Playoffs with the Saints up seven on the Tom Brady-led Bucs as they were driving to make it a two-score game late in the third quarter. Goedert could of changed the fate of both of these playoff mishaps and perhaps changed the outcome of both playoff games.
Alternate Reality # 2 - Saints trade up to pick 14 and select Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander
Jaire Alexander, who was the consensus second-rated cornerback in the 2018 NFL draft after current Cleveland Brown Denzel Ward, would have made for an unbelievable duo with star cornerback Marcus Lattimore. This combination would of vaulted an already impressive Saints defense into elite status, allowing Dennis Allen the freedom to blitz freely while leaving his talented cornerbacks in man coverage. More importantly, this would of kept New Orleans public enemy #1 Eli Apple as far away from our team as possible. The combination surely would of played a role in slowing down Jared Goff and the Rams passing offense, especially in overtime as Los Angeles moved into field goal position for the win, as well as impeding Kirk Cousins and Tom Brady in successive playoff appearances the following two seasons.
Alternate Reality # 3 - Saints trade up to pick 14 and select Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson
One of the issues facing the New Orleans franchise was trying to capitalize on the end of Drew Brees's career and making a decision to draft his replacement. The Saints infamously were planning to select Patrick Mahomes in 2017 if Marcus Lattimore would of gone to the corner-needy Buffalo Bills the pick before. Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs traded up one spot in front of New Orleans and selected Mahomes, while the Bills did indeed select a corner later in the first round - LSU's Tre'Davious White.
Once the Saints moved up in the 2018 draft, many draft experts expected it to be for Jackson to serve as the heir to Drew Brees. Imagine a scenario where New Orleans is able to transition from one Hall-of-Fame QB to potentially another one, reminiscent of the Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers transition in Green Bay. Jackson would have provided the Saints offense with a jolt of energy and secured the QB position in New Orleans for a decade plus, including potentially multiple Super Bowl appearances.
Many New Orleans Saints fan rejoice in the memory of the 2009 season and subsequent Super Bowl XLIV victory. However, the near misses in 2011 and, more specifically, late in Drew Brees career, leave many in the city wondering what could of been. The Saints perplexing decision to trade up for Marcus Davenport certainly sits high on those list of regrets.