Which draft approach is better for the Saints: need or best player available?

It’s almost time for the New Orleans Saints to answer the age-old question: will they draft for need or select the best player available in the 2024 NFL Draft?
NFL Combine
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Every year during draft season, the same question is asked: should teams draft for need or take the best player available? With each franchince facing unique circumstances, the answer is different for every team. Sometimes teams may skip over drafting a really special prospect because they desperately need to address a need that’s holding the team back. Other times, teams will take the elite prospect and figure the rest out later. There’s also instances where the best player available addresses a team’s top need; that’s the best-case scenario.

The New Orleans Saints will have to answer this question on Thursday during the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Set to be on the clock with the 14th-overall pick, there will likely be a ton of elite prospects left for the Saints to choose from. What New Orleans needs, though, is an offensive tackle. Every mock draft has the team selecting a tackle because of the current circumstances of New Orleans’ roster. Could the Saints be tempted to go in another direction if an elite player slides out of the top 10?

ESPN draft analysts Matt Miller and Jordan Reid recently showed how different the draft could look if teams drafted for need or best player available. The two did an exercise where Reid did a mock draft selecting the team’s biggest need and Miller did a mock draft going with the best player available approach.

When they got to the Saints at No. 14, Reid had New Orleans selecting Oregon State tackle Taliese Fuaga, addressing the team’s biggest need. Miller, on the other hand, had the Saints drafting Florida State edge defender Jared Verse, the best player on the board.

Should Saints go offensive line or defensive line in the first round?

Offensive tackle is definitely priority No. 1 in New Orleans, but the team needs edge defenders as well. That makes the Jared Verse selection interesting. While he’s a very good prospect, that could make a difference early on defense for the Saints, it’d still be a mistake to take him over an offensive linemen.

Simply put, the Saints have too many questions along the offensive line to not select one at 14. It’d have to be a truly elite prospect sliding for the team to even consider going in a different direction. Jared Verse isn’t the guy for New Orleans to look over tackles.