Now that the major free agent signings have been finalized, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three needs for each team heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. Today, the New Orleans Saints are the focus. The Saints have the 11th pick in the draft, as well as five total picks in the first three rounds. General manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton will look to continue to fill holes for next season and beyond.
New Orleans Saints 2017 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
In football, if you don’t have solid line play, then you have zero chance of competing for a championship. The Saints have a nice core as far as the defensive line is concerned, but they have an opportunity to add another difference maker via the draft.
They re-signed Nick Fairley in the off-season. Standout rookie Sheldon Rankins will continue to improve and acclimate himself to the Saints system. And mainstay Cameron Jordan should continue getting pressure on the opposing quarterback.
However, New Orleans could use one more pass-rusher on the opposite side. It would give the Saints more depth and flexibility on third down and it would take pressure off of Jordan because teams would not be able to key in on him. Defensive end prospects the Saints should target include: Solomon Thomas (Stanford), Derek Barnett (Tennessee), Taco Charlton (Michigan), Charles Harris (Missouri), and T.J. Watt (Wisconsin).
As of today, New Orleans has still not traded for Malcolm Butler and although a trade could still happen, talks have cooled significantly. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has stated his desire publicly that he wishes for Butler to remain with the team.
The Saints have had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL over the past few seasons and the division they play in is loaded with stud wide receivers. Even though a big, physical corner like Delvin Breaux could handle the likes of Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Kelvin Benjamin, he’s struggled to stay on the field.
Drafting a cornerback would allow the Saints to have insurance in case Breaux goes down again or they could play that player opposite of him on the opposing team’s number two receiver. Early options for the Saints at the 11th pick could include Quincy Wilson from Florida or Tre’Davious White from LSU. Although, I could see Coach Payton taking a flier later in the draft on someone like Sidney Jones from Washington or Adoree’ Jackson from USC.
What Drew Brees has done for the Saints and the city of New Orleans could be considered the biggest individual impact on franchise and city in the NFL. Before Brees arrived, the so called “‘Aints” were the laughing stock of the league.
To avoid returning to obscurity, New Orleans must prepare for the future at the most important position on the field. Sadly, Brees is on the back nine of his career and father time is undefeated. After leading the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2009 after the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused the community, Brees will forever be a New Orleans legend.
The Saints attempted to find Brees’s replacement in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft when they selected Garrett Grayson. Unfortunately, that selection hasn’t panned out as they had hoped, but that shouldn’t stop them from trying again. The Cowboys found their quarterback of the future Dak Prescott in the fourth round of last year’s draft. Some late round prospects the Saints should take a look at are: Brad Kaaya (Miami), Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh), and Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee).