With the free agency frenzy coming to a close, the New Orleans Saints will now look to the 2013 NFL draft for some fresh talent—talent that will help them succeed in 2013 and forget about the 2012 season. Talent that will be a key piece in helping them get closer to the Super Bowl.
The New Orleans Saints don't need to worry about the offense much; what they do need to worry about and work on, though, is their defense. Luckily for them the 2013 NFL draft is loaded with linemen and defensive players.
So where do they start?
While it's clear what the Saints' deficiencies are on defense, we really don't know which direction they'll go—but we'd like to think we do. Do they go with a pass-rusher with their 15th overall pick? Work on their secondary? BPA?
Let's take a look at what some experts think the Saints will do with their first-round pick.
Experts who think the Saints will pick the DE/OLB out of LSU:
Pass-rushing has been a recurring problem for the New Orleans Saints. They were lit up by opposing quarterbacks, and it's a combination of a shaky secondary and lack of pressure put on those quarterbacks.
One of the ways the Saints addressed the problem is by firing Steve Spagnuolo and bringing in Rob Ryan and his 3-4 scheme. The new scheme may help, but it still doesn't completely fix their anemic pass rush.
Will the Saints pull the trigger on the dynamic pass-rusher out of LSU?
Mingo would be a good fit if used on the edge, but because of his small size (6'4", 240 lbs.) he may be moved to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Either way, the Saints could use his speed and athleticism—it's exactly those reasons why scouts are enamored with the defensive end. He has so much potential.
Mingo has an explosive first step that will help him get by a lineman and get to the quarterback with ease, and he also has the strength to fight through blockers to make plays in the run defense. He does need some work on his counter moves to get past pass-blockers and not just rely on his speed, but that can be taught.
The Saints need all the help they can get on the defensive side of the ball, especially with their pass-rushing and run defense. Some experts have the Saints picking up Jarvis Jones, the outside linebacker from Georgia:
Jones would be a natural fit as a pass-rusher in Ryan's 3-4 defensive scheme. Jones' resume speaks for itself, which proves he has a knack for disrupting the pocket.
The linebacker is a First-Team All-American, First-Team All-SEC and was also the SEC Player of the Year. Not only is Jones a great pass-rusher, he is also productive in stopping the run. The past two seasons at Georgia, Jones totaled 155 tackles, nine forced fumbles and 28 sacks.
Jones would make an immediate impact on the Saints' defense. He is explosive and can blow right by pass-blockers, or he can use numerous moves, like ripping off blockers to get around the edge, or cutting inside to get to the quarterback. Jones is also a solid run defender and a good tackler.
New Orleans Saints featured columnist Will Osgood thinks the Saints will pick Desmond Trufant, the defensive back out of Washington.
That wouldn't be a terrible idea, especially if the Saints don't land Nnamdi Asomugha. The Saints' secondary was torched game in and game out—it was embarrassing—and Trufant would be of great help in that unit.
Trufant has great footwork and has good transition skills to redirect in any direction. He is aggressive and isn't afraid to get physical in run support. He is a ball hawk that does a good job locating the ball and will fight for it every time it's up in the air. The defensive back has the experience, and the skills, to play on the outside or in the slot and does a good job running with faster receivers.
One of the concerns, though, is his tackling ability. He has shown that he has inconsistent tackling technique, often missing tackles because he's tackling too high or is just diving at a ball-carrier's feet.
Saints weren't great in run defense but adding defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson isn't the answer. At least I don't think it is.
Don't get me wrong, the defensive tackle from Missouri does have talent, and he demonstrated it at the point of attack. He was a disruptive presence in both the run and pass. But he's only had one dominant season. He has shown he has a bad habit of standing up out of his stance and losing the leverage battle. He sometimes struggles to break free from blockers to make plays in short-yardage situations.
Richardson was also suspended one game in 2012 for violating team rules, which brings into question his character/lack of discipline. There are other more athletic defenders in the draft that will be able to contribute to the Saints' defense.