As we all know Saints fans the draft is almost upon us, and as such, there a more and more mock drafts and opinion columns coming out of the woodwork by the second. With that in mind I am going to (hopefully) give you guys something a little different. I am not going to play ‘couch GM’ and pretend I know what is going through the gloriously cryptic minds of Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis. Instead, what I want to do is take a look at a number of the players available in the draft who have either been projected to the Saints or are favorites of the fan base and breakdown not only what their strengths and weaknesses are, but also to go over how they may (or may not) fit into Saints plans for the future.
The first measure of business is to break down the criteria, at least as it pertains to my opinion, that are most relevant in grading out a draft pick. In my opinion there are three different areas which teams are going to look at when evaluating a player: character, measurables, and ‘fit’. Character speaks for itself and if I have to explain to you how drafting someone like Aaron Hernandez is a dumbass idea…go check the news and get back to me ok?
That leaves us with two:
Fit: probably the more important of the two; fit is the thing that most fans forget to think of when they start talking about who their favorite team should draft. Sure a player like Clowney would look great in a Saints uniform or a guy like Benjamin sure would look good in the red zone…right? But, here is the thing Saints fans; as much as we may love a player and as much as we may think they fit because they fit something we see as a team need…the word we seem to forget is team. The reason that Drew is the only quarterback to pass for consecutive 5000 yard seasons is not that he had the BEST talent around him, but that the talent around him fits the best. Football is the ultimate team game and when all 11 guys fit together and create a cohesive unit, it can achieve on a level far greater than anyone would predict. (This brings to mind some team in 2009 that lit the world on fire and pleasantly surprised even the most loyal of us)
Measurables: The measurable are the things we as fans fall in love with. Don’t believe me? Then how come the combine has such ridiculously high ratings when it really is exactly what a lot of us call it…the underwear Olympics. Well that’s because as little as they matter…the measurable really do matter. (Just go with it) Strength, speed, size, stamina, explosiveness…they are all important, but there is one thing you can’t measure and can’t teach that trumps them all. Everyone remembers ‘Tez right? Incredible measurable that screamed future star…but a block of frickin moldy Colby cheese between his shoulder blades and no instincts made the Saints let him go.
Today’s focus players are Odell Beckham Junior WR out of LSU and Brandin Cooks WR out of Oregon State
O.B.J: Beckham junior to me is a bit of a tweener pick, and I’m not talking about his position. Beckham is the kind of explosive playmaker that the saints haven’t had since Reggie left outside of Darren in 2011 and the fact that he is at the receiver instead of the RB position DOES make a significant difference in how Sean can use him to force teams into the looks he wants. The reason I called him a tweener is that he is right between the ideal pick at this position for the Saints and a guy that I would only take after the three players I really hope the team ends up taking. (more on them soon) There really isn’t an issue with Beckham as far as a player; he is basically Tavon Austin from last year’s draft with just less hype, but while he is explosive and ‘sudden’…he is also the second best player in the draft at everything he does. The saints do desperately need a speed guy who also has some YAC ability to really make this offense a threat against Seattle and San Francisco in the playoffs. (and in some ways Carolina as well although with how bad their offense looks now I think we could line Grubbs up at receiver and still be able to beat them.) I know that to a certain degree the reason that so many Saints fans salivate over OBJ so much is that they saw him at LSU and it is hard to not want guys who go to ‘your’ school to also end up playing for your pro team. I would not be outraged or even disappointed if the Saints ended up drafting him with the 27th pick, but that said he is nowhere near the BEST option for the team and as a fan I want them to get that BEST option(s), and since these mock drafts and discussion board flame wars are all conjecture anyway I am going to assume the team will get the best guy they can.
Brandin Cooks: Now before I get into the details on why I think this guy may just be the best fit in the entire draft for the Saints I do have to give one little caveat…I go to Oregon State so I am just as biased for this guy as many of you are for OBJ. I have seen every snap this guy has played in college (even worked out with him once and trust me…dudes bigger than his measurements make him sound) and as crazy as it might sound…his combine numbers do not do his game justice. The reason for that is that while he ran as if his cleats were on fire and showed the kind of smooth change of direction that should remind us all of Sproles in his prime what really makes Cooks special is his instincts. Earlier when I was talking about measurables and what makes a player great I mentioned that instincts trump all; if a player gets a general measurable draft grade of a C+, but gets a B in instincts, that is a B+ to A- prospect. Cooks grades out as an A prospect in everything but height, but his instincts are easily his best attribute and they are what make him rise above OBJ as a prospect. It isn’t just his ability to make something out of nothing or the incredible speed and quickness that sets him apart as a player for the Saints though. This isn’t just about looking at who is the best general prospect in a vacuum, but who is the best prospect for the New Orleans Saints and that is the area where Cooks becomes IMO the best player in the draft for us. The Saints could take a defender here, but honestly the defense has a few small blemished, but no real weaknesses and we really just need depth. The Saints are not the Seahawks or the Whiners who are built almost entirely on having an all-world defense at the cost of their offense. The Saints may have just built one almost on accident, but so long as this guy named Drew Brees is our quarterback the offense will be the deciding factor on whether or not we win a championship. The Saints return game has been hot garbage dumped in a pile of manure the last couple of years and especially in the punt return department; if we draft Cooks we get an instant and immediate upgrade at that spot that could put it near the top of the league. That alone has great value to the team, but his dynamic playmaking ability and ability to make plays all over the field at all depths and while running all route combinations makes him the perfect FIT (there is that word again) in the Sean Payton offense. This is of course just my opinion but I can see nothing about this kid that doesn’t make outright giddy at the prospect of drafting him and watching the unfathomable horror on the faces of the coaches across the league as they realize that Sean Payton just got the most explosive player in the draft to pair with Jimmy, Colston, Kenny, and a running game that could be our best since 09.
Next time I will go over some more players including Kony Ealy, Ryan Shazier, Marquise Lee, Kyle Fuller, Kelvin Benjamin, C.J. Mosely, and Bradley Roby.