Saints Draft

Saints could have drafted these players instead of Payton Turner

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers / Eakin Howard/GettyImages
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The New Orleans Saints spent their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Houston DE Payton Turner, who has not lived up to the hype. Turner has battled injuries since joining the team last year but he's certainly flirting with the bust label not even two full years into his career.

To make matters worse, these players were still on the board when Turner's name was called and they could have helped the team more than Turner has.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

Odafe Oweh

Taken three picks after Turner, Oweh had five sacks as a rookie for the Ravens last year while tallying another 15 hits on the quarterback. Considering the Saints saw defensive end as an area of need, Oweh would have been a better selection for them. He's been a wrecking ball for Baltimore.

Elijah Moore

It was baffling that as much as the Saints needed a wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft, they didn't take one until the seventh round. Elijah Moore was on the board when the Saints selected Turner but they passed on him, which clearly was a mistake. Moore had 538 yards and five touchdowns during his rookie season.

Javonte Williams

While Saints fans might not have loved the decision to take a running back in the first round, there's no debating that Williams would have made their offense better. The North Carolina product rushed for 903 yards and four touchdowns while hauling in another 316 yards and three touchdowns as a pass-catcher during his rookie season in Denver. Imagine pairing him with Alvin Kamara!

Jevon Holland

While Holland would have only added to the stout secondary that NOLA had last year, he'd have been a bigger factor during the 2022 season. Both Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins departed in the offseason and while the Saints brought in Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye, Holland would have been the best option between the three. He had a PFF grade of 84.7 during his rookie year in Miami.

Asante Samuel

A team can never have too many good cornerbacks and Samuel would have given the Saints quite the cornerback room. Had they drafted Samuel, they probably don't make the trade for Bradley Roby and maybe they don't take Paulson Adebo either. Not having Adebo would have hurt but Samuel would have been an excellent addition to this Saints secondary.

Pat Freiermuth

This would have been a nice pick for the Saints but they probably didn't bother to target a tight end due to having Adam Trautman on the roster already. They had spent a third-rounder on Trautman the year prior and 2021 was supposed to be his year as the TE1. Freiermuth, however, would have been electric in this offense. He had 497 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie for the Steelers.

Nick Bolton

Had the Saints spent their first-round pick on Bolton, they probably don't get Pete Werner in the second round so that's the only potential con with this pick. Bolton, however, is a tackling machine for the Chiefs and had 112 tackles during his rookie campaign. He'd have been terrific for New Orleans had the black and gold made him their first-round pick.

Creed Humphrey

Not taking Humphrey wasn't all that surprising considering the Saints had Erik McCoy as their center and he's a baller. Had Humphrey been the pick, perhaps McCoy would have gotten kicked outside to one of the guard spots or maybe Humphrey would have played elsewhere. It's crazy to think that Humphrey could have been on this Saints' o-line though.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

Sliding to the fourth round, St. Brown looks to be one of the best value picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. The wide receiver had 912 yards and five touchdowns during his rookie season in Detroit and man, could the Saints have used that production from a wide out last year!

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These are the biggest names the New Orleans Saints missed out on by selecting Payton Turner 28th overall in 2021. There's still time for Turner to round the corner and make more of an impact, but for now, the guy is definitely trending toward being labeled as a bust.

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