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New Orleans Saints 2017 NFL Draft Recap

Welcome to the Big Easy,

The New Orleans city life might be easy going, but the NFC South hasn’t been too kind for the Saints in recent years. Since the last time the Saints won their division in 2011, Drew Brees and company have gone 7-9 every single year except in 2013 where they went 11-5. Crazy to see them going 7-9 four out of five seasons. The Saints seem to always be in the conversation year after year, but just can’t manage to get over that 7-9 hump. New Orleans needs to expedite their next playoff appearance in hopes of getting back to the Super Bowl because Drew Brees nor Sean Payton will last forever. Did the Saints do enough in the draft to help guide them back to the promise land or will it be another 7-9 type affair? Let’s do the holy thing and shed light on the subject by reviewing their draft selections.

-1st Round, Pick #11: Marshon Lattimore – Cornerback (Ohio State)

  • Once Sidney Jones went down with an achilles injury, Marshon emerged into the clear-cut number one corner in this years’ draft. He is a top five talent that just so happened to tumble out of the top ten, which couldn’t have worked out more perfectly for the Saints as they desperately needed a stud corner to compete against Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin and Mike Evans within the division. Marshon was only a one year starter for the Buckeyes, although his play wouldn’t indicate such demeanor. He’ll be the day one starter and will fly around the field more than beads on Mardi Gras. New Orleans’ prayer was answered when this Saint was gift wrapped for them at pick eleven.

-1st Round, Pick #32: Ryan Ramczyk – Offensive Tackle (Wisconsin)

  • New Orleans thought they had Reuben Foster guaranteed to them with the final pick in the first round, but San Francisco had other plans when they traded up one spot above them. So, the Saints went in another direction and drafted the best player available and the considered best offensive lineman within the whole 2017 draft. Not to mention they got a guy that went to a school in Wisconsin that has produced some all-pro starting offensive linemen in Kevin Zeitler, Travis Frederick and ageless wonder Joe Thomas. Ryan can join that list one day if he proceeds to play with aggressive attitude and swagger. He is a left tackle by trait, but Zach Strief is the current starter on the left side, so Ryan will start his career on the right side of the ball until it’s his time. The Big Ten had numerous good pass rushers this year; as a result Ryan stepped up and was battle tested in his lone playing year at Wisconsin. Drew Brees should be happy he’ll get more protection upfront this upcoming season.

-2nd Round, Pick #42: Marcus Williams – Safety (Utah)

  • Not surprising to see the Saints select two secondary players within their first three picks. They were the worst team in passing defense last year giving up a whopping 273.8 yards per game. Only five quarterbacks threw for more yards than what the Saints defense allowed. Kenny Vaccaro has durability and consistency issues, while Vonn Bell is still growing as a starter. Marcus will begin the season behind the two mentioned, but does bring a play-making style of play to the field. He creates game changing plays by forcing turnovers and disrupting the connection between quarterback and receiver. Needs to add muscle in his core body if he intends to stay physical in coverage against bigger receivers and tight ends. This was too high of a selection to not use him right away, so I anticipate on Marcus having some type of meaningful role on this team one way or another. New Orleans could really use his turnover creating abilities as well.

-3rd Round, Pick #67: Alvin Kamara – Running Back (Tennessee)

  • Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Oh my how this backfield looks good. Alvin won’t be the main attraction this year, but he does hold a place within this trio. Adrian will do what he was brought in to do and that is run the football as the big physical bruiser. Mark will be the rotational change of pace player as the number two runner and can also serve as a good pass catcher. Alvin will serve as the receiving back on passing downs as he has excellent hands. Coaches will give him anywhere from three to four rush attempts per game as the third runner on top of his receptions. Free agent signing Adrian Peterson is near the end of his career, so with that in mind the Saints drafted a guy that’ll learn the NFL game and once AP decides to hang it up, Alvin will be a great compliment to Mark Ingram, while they combine to form a magical duo.

-3rd Round, Pick #76: Alex Anzalone – Linebacker (Florida)

  • Doesn’t have much game tape his last two seasons at Florida due to his ongoing battle with injuries. With the NFL being more physical, one can only expect Alex to continue to struggle with his durability. However, he does have good size at 6’3″, 240 lbs for a linebacker and is raw enough to mold into defensive coordinator Dennis Allen’s liking. When he is on the field though, Alex showed great quickness dropping into coverage and get off the ball speed to bull rush the quarterback. He has played every linebacker position, so his versatility will provide beneficial traits within the linebacker core. If Alex can manage to stay on the field and this was a good investment for a team always needing defensive help.

-3rd Round, Pick #103: Trey Hendrickson – Linebacker (Florida Atlantic)

  • Smaller school, bigger athlete. 6’4″, 266 lbs is something you can’t miss. Played as a 3-4 scheme outside linebacker in college, but will line up on the defensive line as a pass rushing end in the Saints 4-3 look. Trey’s best quality is his hustle as he has a great motor and plays whistle to whistle. He’ll be a great addition to the rotation, as you can never have too many pass rushers. Trey will contribute on special teams as well. He Tied for blocked kicks in 2016 [blocked punt, extra point and two field goals]. He might not have the flashy stats, but his presence on the field will certainly benefit this team.

 

-6th Round, Pick #196: Al-Quadin Muhammad – Defensive End (Miami-FL)

  • This kid has an interesting story as he barely played the last few seasons. He was suspended in the 2014 season for an altercation with a former student and did not play a snap last year as he was kicked off the team and failed to transfer to another university. He has great potential and showed flashes of dominance during his short time with Miami, but character concerns and lack of experience raise major red flags. This is a typical low round pick with low risk, high reward. As stated earlier, you cannot have enough pass rushers and Muhammad could stick around for a year or two, learn the system then just exceed expectations with phenomenal play. This wouldn’t be the first player with a troubled background to come into the league and play out of his mind to earn a roster spot.

Seems like the Saints realized that their championship opportunities are slowly dwindling as Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger. Having seven selections, whereas six of them being in the first three rounds. That is impressive and illustrates that they wanted to bring in top notch talent to help contribute this season. New Orleans also took note that their defense is the teams’ weak point and used five of seven picks to address their biggest weakness from years’ prior. Feels like this class isn’t talked about as being one of the better drafts in 2017, but when you break it down, it has potential to be something really exceptional. Until next time, have a great day!

-Austin Thomas

 


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