It's here! It's finally here. Call it Christmas in May if you wish, but the day NFL fans have been anticipating since the aftermath of the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl triumph has arrived, at last. Mock drafts, scouting reports, pro days, and all in between have ensconced us as fans for the last three months, but now it is time to get down to business. It's time for the NFL Draft.
The New Orleans Saints hope to make good use of their 7 picks in this year's draft. Despite a stellar offseason thus far, Jimmy Graham's contract situation and impending grievance not withstanding, the Saints still have needs to meet and wants to address. As 2014 shapes up as one of the more loaded drafts in recent memory, there will be opportunities aplenty for teams like the Saints to capitalize on their months of due dilligence into these decorated draft prospects, and the chance to meet those needs and desires will be there for the taking. Who will be the newest Saint by tonight's end?
As a reminder, here are the Saints' seven draft picks as of now...
- 1st round- 27th overall
- 2nd round- 58th overall
- 3rd round- 91st overall
- 4th round- 126th overall
- 5th round- 167th overall
- 5th round- 169th overall*
- 6th round- 202nd overall
*- From New England via Philadelphia
The Saints should look to do their heavy hitting with those first three picks. The team could always look to move up higher into the first round if a player they covet is there to be had. For example, the Saints did this just three years ago when they traded back into the first round to select Mark Ingram. If they stand pat, there will still be a chance to add at least three quality prospects to the growing stable of talent in New Orleans.
Some final thoughts before the festivities kick off tonight in New York...
Best Player Available
This seems to be the Saints' preferred mode of operation on draft day under Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton. Whether that player is TCU's Jason Verrett, Ohio Satate's Ryan Shazier or Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, it stands to reason that New Orleans should be well-placed to grab a useful talent at pick 27. A future starter who could contribute in a role right off the bat, or a player to enhance depth and competition with an eye on the future. Either way, this pick will set the tone for the rest of the draft, and the Saints will have their eye on several possibilities with this pick. We wouldn't rule out the team looking to move up if players like Cooks or USC's Marqise Lee are still on the board in the early 20s.
Don't Reach Early
The Saints have become heavily linked with USC Center Marcus Martin over recent weeks. Martin has been projected by some as a possible late first rounder, with a second round selection more likely. While we acknowledge that Center is a position the team should look to address at some point in the draft, the Saints could still come across a talented prospect later in the draft. Florida State's Bryan Stork and Tennessee's James Stone should be available between rounds 3 and 6, meaning the Saints could target the corner and receiver positions with their first two picks. The Saints could also look to bolster their pass rush or Linebacker corps with those two selections. Martin is a heck of a player, but perhaps taking a Center within the first 60 picks could be considered a reach of sorts.
QB Not An Issue
Teams are always on the lookout for the future. Drew Brees is not getting any younger, but it is still too early to use anything more than a late round flier on a Quarterback prospect. The Saints have brought back last year's backup Luke McCown, and remain high on former Tulane signal caller Ryan Griffin as a developmental project. There are some talented passers in this year's draft, though the Saints could still find another pet project for Sean Payton with one of their final picks or even in the pool of undrafted free agents. If any 5th or 6th rounder should be used as a luxury, perhaps the team could look to add another skill weapon to its arsenal, or another pass rusher or cover man. Quarterbacks selected past round 5 rarely turn out to yield more than solid depth. Brees figures to have a handful of years left in him, and his long-term successor is unlikely to be lurking in the latter rounds. Tom Bradys just don't grow on trees, do they? The Saints are unlikely to find Drew Brees's successor in this draft.
Now, all we have to do as fans is let the process play out. While most of us miss the old format of waking up early on Saturday only to see our sobriety fade on us by 11 am, having the first round on Thursday night has provided a unique feel to the draft. So as you settle in to your own personal war rooms tonight, remember: BPA, don't reach, use your luxury pick(s) for skill depth. Got it? Good.