The New Orleans Saints survived the 2012 season—well, kind of—finishing with a record of 7-9. Some were surprised, some were disappointed, and for others, they exceeded expectations. Now the team has their leader, Sean Payton, back. They have a new and aggressive defensive coordinator in Rob Ryan to fix their historically awful defense.
But the Saints organization are still in search for answers. They need to add some key players to their personnel.
Exactly two weeks away is the 2013 NFL draft, and this is where Sean Payton will look to to add players and make some improvements.
Now, drafting is not exactly a perfected science—in any sport. Team scouts can study player films and go over their stats again and again, but that doesn't mean they won't whiff on certain choices. It's hit or miss with these drafts; whether it be in the early rounds or late rounds, it doesn't matter. Any team can find a dud or a stud in any round of a draft—no way of avoiding it.
Teams just have to do their homework and hope they don't get a dud. The Saints have had good luck, so far, when it comes to drafting. That, and they have a talented scouting team. With that being said, let's take a look at some late-round prospects who would be a perfect match for the Saints.
The Saints are no doubt in need of a pass-rusher. I'm sure the team will address those concerns in the early rounds, but why not pick up some insurance just in case, right?
William Gholston, the defensive end from Michigan State, would be a nice pickup for New Orleans. The defensive end is a giant, standing at 6'7", 275 pounds. For a guy his size, he is agile and has the speed to keep up with tight ends and running backs in the flat.
Of course he still has a lot to learn, but he also does have room to grow. There is an upside to the defensive end. With his size and raw talent, he can do some damage as a defensive end.
As mentioned in my previous article, the Saints need another offensive lineman. Yes, the team just recently picked up former first-round offensive tackle Jason Smith, but they won't be sold on the pick who is viewed as a bust.
The Saints need to add depth to the offensive line, and adding Chris Faulk, the lineman from LSU, would be a good idea.
The 325-pounder was good in pass protection and in run-blocking. Although he suffered a knee injury this past season, he flashed his talent his sophomore year. If he can get back to that, he would be a great addition to the Saints, who need to add as much depth as possible to the position.
It's a known fact that the 2012 Saints defense was awful. There's proof in the books, as they made history for most yards given up—they gave up a lot yards through the air as well as on the ground.
Enter Chase Thomas, the linebacker from Stanford.
Thomas has a motor in him, and an aggressive but smart style of play. He can be all over the place and make plays. He flies to the ball and can be tough to block. He is an instinctive player and has good reaction skills.
A plus is that Thomas has played in a 3-4 defense with the Stanford Cardinal. In 53 games played with Stanford, Thomas racked up 229 tackles, 27.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles. He can make plays at either the linebacker position or at defensive end.
After last year's showing from the secondary, or lack thereof, the Saints need all the help they can get in the secondary.
If the Saints draft the USC safety, T.J. McDonald, he could immediately compete for a starting position.
At 6'3", 219 lbs., McDonald definitely has the size. He is a good all-around defender: He is aggressive and can attack the line of scrimmage on run plays, making the monster hits. He possesses good straight-line speed that helps him in keeping up with speedier receivers. McDonald also has good ball-skills and can make the big plays with jump balls because of his size.
McDonald enjoyed a good career with USC, tallying 275 tackles, eight interceptions, two sacks and 17 pass deflections.
The nose tackle from Georgia is massive. The 6'6", 342-pound Kwame Geathers carries his size very well and can move with it. He is strong and can put blockers on their heels, and he also has quick hands to shed. Surprisingly, the nose tackle is also quick for his size and can burst off the snap, beating the center and getting to the backfield to break up run plays.
Geathers can be a force and clog up the middle. He can definitely make an impact on the Saints' defensive unit, anchoring the middle of the defensive line.