Who Will The Saints Draft?
By: Courtney Burrows
The New Orleans Saints are still reeling from the news of Drew Brees’s retirement. Yes, everyone knew it was coming, but that doesn’t change that fact that it is a tough pill to swallow. The show must go on in New Orleans, and that started with free agency re-signing Winston at QB, James Hurst as a fill-in offensive lineman, and PJ Williams at safety. There are glaring other holes to fill like Edge, CB, LB, as Kwon Alexander was released and TE since Jared Cook left (even though the Saints drafted TE Adam Trautman 3rd round in 2020). One of the most needed draft positions is a strong slot WR complement to Michael Thomas, even though Emmanuel Sanders was released, he wasn’t what the Saints needed so that was an easy decision. The 2021 Draft is less than 40 days away, and the Saints need to make big moves early. There is still a high possibility that the Saints trade up for their future QB, but these picks will be made where they currently stand with no trades. Here is a look at potential picks for each round.
Round One, Pick 28- Rondale Moore WR, Purdue. Moore is a top slot receiver in the draft, and the Saints need one to complement Thomas. His toughness and speed in the slot make him a perfect fit. Moore is an incredible deep threat with explosiveness and vertical leap allowing him to come up with the ball and propel past defenders. He finished his career at Purdue with 1788 receptions for 1,915 yards. If he is still on the board, the Saints can’t turn his talent down.
Round Two, Pick 60- Eric Stokes CB, Georgia. The Saints need a real #2 CB since releasing veteran Jenkins. Stokes is a 2nd round pick having him ranked as the 6th to 8th best CB in the draft behind his teammate Tyson Campbell. Stokes ability to break up passes and disrupt receivers’ routes in zone coverage elevate him despite his size. Stokes will make an impression from day one on any defense, why not the Saints where they desperately need the help.
Round Three, Pick 98-Pete Werner LB, Ohio State- Werner is a stout run defender whose instincts and quick reads of the offensive action help him locate the ball and tackle the runner. He is underrated and will be available in the third round. Werner is fast and athletic for his size and has large hands that break up passes and get in the faces of offensive players makes him a great fit that defensive line coach Ryan Nielson can coach up and mold into exactly what the Saints defense needs.
Round Three, Pick 105-Payton Turner DE, Houston- Turner is a versatile defensive player who is quick off the edge and solid in size and power. Though he has quick bursts and acceleration, his stamina of overall speed is lacking in comparison of other DE, but that is something a good coach helps to fix. Turner is smart and uses his mindset to know what offenses are thinking and has the flexibility and agility to switch gears mid-run. He is a steal!
Round Four, Pick 133-Tony Poljan TE, Virginia- Jared Cook was released and Taysom Hill is no longer designated as a TE/QB, so the need is there. Poljan reminds me of Hill since he played his first two collegiate years as QB, and we know how much the Saints have utilized Hill’s multi-tasking talent. He is a physical pass protector pushing defenders away from the pocket. Poljan has a huge wingspan and height that elevates him over defenders to be the first to the ball. He is a great late-round pick that could translate into a TE1 in the coming years for the Saints.
Round Six, Pick 218-Larry Rountree RB, Missouri- Granted the Saints have one of the best RB in the league with Kamara, but who better to learn from either. Rountree is an undervalued RB whose quick feet let him weave in and out of holes and defenders. His career stats include 40 touchdowns and 3,720 yards with an average of five yards per carry. He is raw and needs grooming especially as a three-down and receiving back, but again learning from Kamara will be crucial to his future in the NFL.
Round Seven, Pick 229-Dan Moore Jr. OT, Texas A&M-As an Aggie, Moore playing left tackle helped QB Kellen Mond complete 63.3% of his passes and throw for 2,282 yards. Moore’s large size is balanced by his steady feet and frame, and though he does not have the quickness off the line, he does not quit on plays and charges until the whistle is blown. That determination is something that can’t be taught. Moore should spend at least a season on a practice squad to develop more refined pass protection and blocking, but he worth the gamble in the 7th.
Round Seven, Pick 225-Max Richardson OLB, Boston College-Richardson returned for his 2020 season at BC and became an immediate leader on the field and in the locker room. The Saints thrive on players rich in discipline, character, and heart, just like Richardson. He finishes his collegiate career with 315 total tackles. Richardson has the ability to read plays and zone coverage well and established himself as a blitzing menace in college. He has had some knee issues, which is why he might fall to the 7th, but the Saints will be lucky to snag him.
What an exciting draft this is set to be, and if the Saints make wise moves to upgrade their roster to help return to NFC Glory without Brees, then they will continue to battle for one of the top spots in the league. I personally am excited to see who they grab, but maybe Coach Payton and GM Loomis will read my post and agree. I truly believe that they will trade up and grab Mac Jones or Trey Lance as the heir to the throne in NOLA. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds Thursday, April 29th.