NFL fans, Who Dat fans, we are about 24 hours away from the 2013 NFL draft.
I can't emphasize this enough when I say this: finally!
The New Orleans Saints will enter tomorrow's draft with six picks: They currently have the 15th pick overall, followed by the 75th pick (third round), the 109th pick (fourth round), the 144th pick (fifth round) and the 183rd pick (sixth round).
After a few much-needed additions through free agency to the defensive side of the ball, the Saints do have some options going into the draft, but they still have some needs. New Orleans is still looking for a dynamic pass-rusher, an offensive tackle and help at the linebacker and cornerback positions.
This year's draft lacks stars like Andrew Luck and RGIII, but that doesn't mean talented players aren't there to be had. This draft is great for teams looking to fill holes in their depth chart. So, the Saints do have a chance to pick up a number of quality players this year.
Let's take a look at some of those players.
All player rankings in the ensuing slides come from CBS Sports NFL Draft Prospects
As mentioned earlier, New Orleans did address some issues through free agency, so with the 15th pick the Saints can go a number of ways. They can draft a dynamic pass-rusher, try to fix their offensive line or go with best player available.
Below is a list of top players the Saints may be looking at:
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU (7)
Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU (10)
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama (12)
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (15)
Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas (16)
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State (17)
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (18)
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (20)
Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State (22)
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington (23)
The New Orleans Saints were torched in 2012. The defense set an NFL single-season record by allowing 7,042 yards last season. One of the main reasons they struggled was because of their inability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
With new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his aggressive 3-4 scheme, the Saints are looking to add a dynamic pass-rusher to the mix.
The top five defensive ends in the draft:
1. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
2. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
3. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
4. Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
5. Margus Hunt, DE, Southern Methodist
As mentioned earlier, the Saints were pushed around all over the field, giving up a total of 7,042 yards last season. So it's evident that the Saints' major flaw is on defense.
Let's take a look at the Saints' other need: nose tackle. Brodrick Bunkley is solid, but the team's depth at the position is a major issue. If they decide to draft a nose tackle, the team can put the rookie in the rotation with Bunkley.
The top five nose tackles in the draft.
1. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
2. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
3. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
4. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
5. Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Left tackle Jermon Bushrod leaving the Saints left a gaping hole at the tackle position. Yes, the Saints have backup Charles Brown and former draft bust Jason Smith, but the team needs a better plan than that. They need an upgrade—especially when you have a quarterback like Drew Brees on your team; the Saints will want maximum protection for the face of the franchise.
The top five offensive tackles in the draft:
1. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
2. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
3. Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
4. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
5. Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
The Saints definitely need an outside linebacker. A pass-rush specialist. After witnessing quarterback after quarterback torching the Saints secondary, it is imperative the Saints address this position.
So their main goal will/should be to pick up an outside linebacker who can pressure the quarterback and constantly disrupt the offense—something the Saints have been trying to do for the past few years.
The top five outside linebackers in the draft:
1. Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
2. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
3. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
4. Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
5. Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas State
Part of the reason why the Saints defense gave up a record 7,042 yards is due to their weak cornerback play. The secondary unit was embarrassed for the majority of the season, and it may be due to a lack of a pass-rush that gave opposing quarterbacks all the time in the world to pick apart their defense.
The top five cornerbacks in the draft:
1. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
3. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
4. D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
5. Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
The Saints brought in safety Jim Leonhard this offseason to help out the defensive backfield. Leonhard is a solid player and so are Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper, but the Saints need more than just those three.
They need a playmaker. Not taking anything away from those players—especially Harper and Jenkins who have been with the Saints and have done good things with them—but the Saints need to move on and get someone who can roam the middle of the field and make big plays.
The top five free safeties in the draft:
1. Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
2. Eric Reid, FS, LSU
3. Phillip Thomas, FS, Fresno State
4. D.J. Swearinger, FS, South Carolina
5. Bacarri Rambo, FS, Georgia
The top strong safeties in the draft:
1. Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International
2. Matt Elam, SS, Florida
3. J.J. Wilcox, SS, Georgia Southern