The New Orleans Saints own the 29th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and have eight total picks throughout the weekend. While there have been some players consistently tied to the franchise, who could they be looking to add that might surprise some people?
Let's check out four sleepers for the Saints in the 2023 NFL Draft.
4. Clayton Tune, QB (Houston)
The Saints acquired Derek Carr this offseason and he signed a four-year deal to reunite with head coach Dennis Allen. That being said, the Saints should always be looking to add quarterbacks to their roster, especially at the backup spot. The last two years should be proof enough of that.
Tune, who spent five seasons with the University of Houston, threw for 4,074 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions during the 2022 campaign. The Draft Network projects him as a fifth-round pick and this could be the perfect time for the Saints to add their project quarterback.
The expectation wouldn't be to play Tune anytime soon. Rather, he'd likely serve on the practice squad for the 2023 season considering NOLA has three other options to back up Carr, one of those being Jameis Winston.
Tune has been criticized for his weak arm but the Saints are a team that definitely prefers to run the ball when possible so this might be a better fit for the Houston product. He also rushed for over 500 yards and five touchdowns, so he's a threat with his legs. That fits perfectly into the Saints' offensive game plan.
3. Ben VanSumeren, LB (Michigan State)
Who would have thought when the Saints spent a seventh-round pick on Kaden Elliss back in the 2019 NFL Draft that he'd become one of their biggest free-agent losses four years later? The sneaky Falcons pried him away from New Orleans and now the black and gold have to find out a way to replace him.
The answer to doing so could be drafting Michigan State's Ben VanSumeren. Ross Jackson of Saints News Network discussed how VanSumeren could be the perfect replacement for Elliss.
"In 2022, VanSumeren compiled a total of 81 combined tackles (3 for a loss) as well as a pair of sacks and two passes defensed. He's an explosive second-level player with good instincts in the run game thanks to his experience at running back. He takes high-percentage angles in his pursuit and has a motor that never stops running, which allows him to be a threat rushing the passer as well."- Ross Jackson
The Saints have to get better in defending the run and the Michigan State product could go a long way in helping them do just that. Jackson notes that the Saints could nab VanSumeren on Day 3 of the draft and perhaps he could become the next Kaden Elliss.
2. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB (UCLA)
Another quarterback makes the list and this might surprise people since the Saints have four quarterbacks on their roster right now if we count Taysom Hill. Thompson-Robinson could be a tremendous quarterback project to have in the Saints' back pocket, however.
Carr signed a four-year deal to lead the Saints offense and he's the best option they've had since Drew Brees departed following the 2020 season. But, as we saw when Brees left, the Saints didn't have a true backup plan when Brees called it a career.
Drafting Thompson-Robinson gives the Saints a potential successor to Carr. The UCLA signal-caller tossed for 3,169 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions while dashing for 645 yards and a whopping 12 touchdowns. If the Saints added Thompson-Robinson in the sixth round and he went on to give them meaningful snaps down the road, that'd be one hell of a steal.
1. John Michael Schmitz, C (Minnesota)
New Orleans inked Erik McCoy to a five-year extension but they're able to get out of it after 2024 if they feel the need to. That could be handy if they were to draft John Michael Schmitz and see strong value in him as a rookie.
Schmitz should be available in the second round but if the Saints decide to draft him with their late first-round pick, he could immediately contribute to this o-line. McCoy has played the guard positions in the past so if NOLA does some shifting around, it's possible that Schmitz can slide into his preferred role of center.
Or maybe, the team lets things play out in training camp and keeps Schmitz as a backup in case of injuries. That could then lead to McCoy moving spots (unless McCoy is the injured one) and moving Schmitz into the anchor of the offensive line.
New Orleans isn't really looking for a center but they should be looking for any talented offensive linemen because without a strong o-line, it's hard to win games.