May is the new April as May 8th begins this years NFL draft with the Saints holding their first pick at number 27 overall. After a disappointing end to the 2013-2014 season, all eyes begin focusing on what can be done to help put this team over the hump. The future of an NFL franchise is built through the draft, something head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have thrived at since their arrival in 2006. With just over three months until the draft, The Saints staff prepares to make decisions that could make or break their Superbowl hopes for this coming season. I will review some of the positions of need the Saints may have entering the offseason.
With injuries plaguing the cornerback position in past years, this could be a major point of emphasis. The return of Patrick Robinson will help tremendously while Jabari Greer's gruesome injury makes his return unlikely, depth at this position would act as a safety blanket as well as an upgrade for the lackluster performance of cornerbacks trying to fill the shoes of these two players.
One of the biggest surprises in the NFL last season was Rob Ryans ability to turn around the Saints defense from being the worst in history. The pass rush from the defensive front led by Cameron Jordan helped in this transformation, while the outside linebackers in the Ryans new 34 defense seemed to be a point of weakness. Victor Butler was brought along as a leading break out candidate for the Saints but an early season ending injury put that idea to rest. His return will help the defense to consistently get after the passer in different ways but another addition will likely be brought along.
The jury is still out on last years rookie Teron Armstead. Bright spots and confidence in his growth may shy the coaching staff away from drafting another tackle early. With right tackle still a need, this position could be targeted in the mid to late rounds.
Drew Brees may only have a few more years left as age is creeping up on him. Backup quarterback Luke McCown is not the answer for the future, but Ryan Griffin might be. Confidence has been shown in the undrafted rookie from Tulane when the Saints signed him to the 53 man roster following the St. Louis Rams interest in bringing Griffin along after Sam Bradford suffered a season ending injury. Continued confidence in Griffin may have the Saints looking in other directions this offseason but the importance of this position for the future makes this worth pointing out.
The Saints wide receivers are a mix of veteran and youth players with many questions. Colston and Moore may eventually be replaced by the young guns of Kenny Stills and Nick Toon. Whether this young tandem is the answer is unknown, making this a possible target this offseason.
Jimmy Graham is no longer under contract and may receive the franchise tag for this coming season. Losing Graham would be a terrible nightmare for the organization. Since Sean Payton's arrival in 2006 there has been a focus on the tight end position usually resulting in two or three quality tight ends making the roster. Drafting a tight end early may spell doom for Saints fans as the coaching staff may be preparing for the possible and unfortunate departure of all pro tight end Jimmy Graham.