The New Orleans Saints are in a weird place heading into the 2017 season. New Orleans has a franchise quarterback with Drew Brees but they were only able to go 7-9. The Saints started to look towards the future a little with the Brandin Cooks trade collecting more draft picks. With Brees nearing the end of his career, the Saints have to start looking towards the future. What can we expect from the New Orleans Saints heading into the 2017 NFL Draft?
The Saints hold the 11th and 32nd selections in round one. That first pick will likely come on the defensive side of the ball. Derek Barnett of Tennessee could be first the choice. Barnett is the all-time leading sack artist for the Volunteers and would immediately upgrade the pass rush. The Cameron Jordan, Barnett combo would be a dangerous edge tandem. The Saints invested in Sheldon Rankins, a dominate defensive tackle in 2016, expect them to continue to defensive movement.
At the backend of the first round, I suspect the Saints could take a quarterback 32nd overall. There is a reason the Saints wanted that pick in exchange for Brandin Cooks. Given the fact that the 32nd choice would mean the extra 5th-year option for a quarterback may tempt the Saints to go in that direction. It could depend on who is available with that selection. Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Davis Webb could all be considerations for that pick. It’s possible the Saints trade up in the first round to guarantee they get their guy.
The Saints hold the 42nd pick in the second round. Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram makes a lot of sense. The Saints offense hasn’t been the same since Jimmy Graham was dealt to the Seahawks. Engram is a pass catching tight end that can be utilized like Graham. Engram reminds me of Aaron Hernandez without the craziness of course. He also tested off the charts running a 4.42 at the combine.
New Orleans also has two picks in the 3rd round thanks to that Brandin Cooks trade. 76th and 103rd are those respective draft picks. Jourdan Lewis from Michigan could be one of those picks. Outside of Delvin Breaux, New Orleans has serious question marks at corner. Jourdan Lewis could be thrown right into a starting role day one as a nickel cornerback. With a division packed with talented receivers, the Saints need to invest in the cornerback position.
Finding a replacement for Brandin Cooks could also be on the agenda. Ted Ginn was a nice singing but probably doesn’t have a ton of tread left on the tires. Cal wide out Chad Hansen could be a nice fit. Hansen was a super reliable weapon for Davis Webb at Cal and could be the perfect possession receiver in the Saints offense. He also has adequate speed (4.53) for the occasional go route, something he seemed to excel at in college in the Air Raid system. Hansen is a great route runner and has soft hands that makes him sort of a fail proof pick in the 3rd round. Side note; Michael Thomas is going to be a superstar.