If you watch SEC football at all, you know why Laquon Treadwell is viewed by far and away as the best received in the 2016 NFL draft. Almost every single mock draft has the 6’3″ 216lb Ole Miss product going as the first receiver in the draft. In fact, some scouts view him as the best overall player entering the draft. And almost every draft has him going somewhere between Dallas at 4th overall and San Francisco at 7th. So this discussion is likely futile as he’s all but certain to be gone by the time the Saints pick at 12. Then again, the draft isn’t until April 28th and a lot can happen in 3 months. You’ll remember after the combine how much hype Kevin White was starting to get last year, to the point where many mocks were taking him ahead of Amari Cooper. Good thing the Raiders ignored that trendy noise. Still, it’s not inconceivable that a consensus top 7 player drops to 12, especially if a different receiver or two go nuts at the NFL Combine. So we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, the question today for the Saints is whether they take Treadwell if he falls that far.
This draft for the Saints, like the one last year, is about improving the defense. The Saints finished #1 in total offense and #31 in total defense in 2014 and #2 in total offense and #31 in total defense in 2015, so it’s clear where they need the most help. It’s also clear why they’ve finished 7-9 the last two years despite having Drew Brees. That said, a defense first draft approach didn’t stop the Saints from taking offensive tackle Andrus Peat from one slot lower last year. By all accounts they would have gone with nose tackle Danny Shelton if he had fallen to 13, but that’s academic now. And similarly, if the defensive player they want is gone, and the best player on the board plays on offense, they shouldn’t shy away from taking him. That’s where the conundrum with Treadwell comes in.
As far as needs, the Saints are a mediocre football team and have loads of them. The Saints need help at guard, tight end, receiver, defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker, corner and safety. This team has so many glaring needs it’s difficult to know where to start, and there’s something to be said for filling any of those holes you can in an emphatic way. Imagine how prolific the Saints *could* be adding a weapon like Treadwell. Marques Colston is likely done, and the receivers next year are Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman and……? Some of you are screaming “NO! NO! NO! DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE”. I agree with you. That needs to be the philosophy this offseason. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right way to go at 12. I’d almost advocate that the Saints have a non negotiable “defense only” draft approach at 12 unless Treadwell falls. But if Treadwell is available at 12 and he’s clearly the best guy available, you have to seriously consider it. Winning in the NFL is about having game changing players – and Treadwell looks to be exactly that.
There’s also something to be said at this point for the Saints accepting who they are, too. Great on offense, horrific on defense. Look, they tried to fix it. Many times. The combination of draft busts, bad coaching and bad free agent investments have prevented them from improving. And as much as we liked the additions of Stephone Anthony, Delvin Breaux and Hau’oli Kikaha, the defense was just as bad in 2015 as it was in 2014. There was no improvement. So I’m half a mind to make a few low level additions on defense, hope they pan out, hope things improve a little bit, and just make the offense as spectacular as possible. You’re always looking to achieve balance, but the only thing that’s been consistently fantastic since 2006 is the offense. If Brees is going to have to suffer through severe weaknesses on this roster, he’s shown he can win with a poor defense sometimes. I submit 2011 as an example, which is why pairing Brees with an all world receiving talent like Treadwell that he would only maximize and make better is so appealing.
Do you take Treadwell over a defensive player if he’s available at 12?