This week I will be breaking down the Saints needs (in my opinion) and where they stand as far as the draft goes. The Saints have lost a few people to free agency, but those people are not irreplaceable. The worst one was definitely the Kromer/Bushrod to the Bears combination. A solid left tackle going to another team, along with a good offensive line coach. I think the Saints offensive line will still be among the best, but not quite the best like they have been in recent years.
As of now, the Saints have five total picks in the draft: The 15th overall pick, 75th overall pick (third round), 109th pick overall (fourth round), 144th pick overall (fifth round), and pick 183 (sixth round). While I would like to have that second rounder back, I can understand why they won't get it back. This draft is definitely a defensive draft with the multitudes of great talent to choose from so late in the draft.
First Round, Pick 15: The New Orleans Saints select…
Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU. I really want to put Dion Jordan here, but since he had a good combine, I don't see him falling to no. 15 overall. Although he did have recent shoulder surgery that prevented him from working at his pro day so you never know what could happen. Mingo is a close second to Jordan though from what I have seen first-hand when I watch SEC football. Mingo is tall, athletic, and he possesses the speed needed to get to the passer, and that's ultimately what gets a DE drafted so high.
Third Round, Pick 75: The New Orleans Saints select…Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU. How cool would it be to have 2 huge playmakers from the same National Championship-caliber defense on the field for your team? This is a good possibility considering what happened with Mathieu prior to the 2012 season. I don't really care what people say about this dude's issues because when it comes to football, this guy can flat-out play. I still contend that he will be the biggest steal of the draft for whatever team is lucky to get him.
***My alternate pick to this one is Darius Slay, CB from Mississippi State. Flew under the radar for the most part because Johnthan Banks was stealing the show in Starkville. That being said, he was recognized enough to be invited to the combine where he absolutely killed it. Ran a 4.37 in the 40 (tied for the best with Dee Milliner) and just owned his drills; Slay would be a great pick for the Saints if Tyrann isn't there.
Fourth Round, Pick 109: The New Orleans Saints select…Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Since Bushrod's departure from the Saints, the team is most likely thinking of a way to replace him. I have seen rumors floating where New Orleans is targeting Bryant McKinnie from the Ravens as a replacement. While that is a good sign if Mickey Loomis can get him, there will still need to be depth at the position. Armstead ran a blazing 4.71-40 yard dash at the combine, making him not only the fastest OT, but faster than some tight ends there which is insane. If the Saints drafted this guy, he could make a huge impact down the line, or even immediately. Not only would they have a more athletic left tackle (or potentially right tackle if the Saints sign McKinnie), they would shore up the offensive line very quickly. The team has a knack for drafting later-round talent, and Armstead could surely continue the trend.
Fifth Round, Pick 144: The New Orleans Saints select…Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State. A somewhat underrated Safety from Fresno State, Thomas was a Jim Thorpe runner-up. Had a great 2012 season with the Bulldogs, racking up 82 total tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, and 8 interceptions. What those stats show me is that he's a ball-hawk that knows what to do when the ball is in the air. Being able to potentially compete as a starter right from the get-go, Thomas would definitely add depth to a very porous position on the Saints defense.
Sixth Round, Pick 183: The New Orleans Saints select…Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee. Talented dude with pretty good upside, Bray was really good at Tennessee during his tenure with the team. The departure of Chase Daniel leaves a big hole in the backup QB spot. If Brees went down in the first game, the Saints would be sunk until he got back. Bray could be a very good backup to Brees, because he knows how to not turn the ball over so much. In his 3 years with the Volunteers, Bray totaled 69 touchdowns, 28 interceptions, 7,444 yards, and 58.2% completion. That tells me that he's not the most accurate passer in the world, but he can get the job done if he needs to. Sitting behind a future hall-of-famer doesn't hurt, either. I would rather have Bray than Canfield or some other chump QB, and I hope the Saints feel the same way.
Would love to know your thoughts, and maybe even a Saints draft that you came up with!