With the 2013 NFL draft in the books, draft analysts have just one more responsibility before they too can close the books on this year's draft class: Grade the picks.
While I personally trust other draft analysts more than the ones on this list, for sake of ease and notoriety, we have gone with some of the more well known analysts for aggregate report cards of the Saints' 2013 draft class.
Here is what some of the experts have said regarding the Saints' 2013 draft class.
According to Mel Kiper Jr. the New Orleans Saints received a "B-" in terms of hitting on their needs. In terms of value, he gave the team a "B." Overall, Kiper also gave Mickey Loomis and the Saints a "B."
Kiper calls first-round selection Kenny Vaccaro the best safety in the draft, which most analysts agreed with (though I had him below Florida International's Johnathan Cyprien). He also praises the Saints for getting Terron Armstead "at another need position all the way down at 75". I can agree on that one.
Finally, he calls John Jenkins a "huge, high effort player who can play immediately". If I could grade Kiper himself for that comment I'd give him an "F," but that's me.
For Kiper's full analysis, click here (must have ESPN Insider).
Pete Prisco of cbssports.com graded each pick in the first-round. Prisco gave the Saints a "B" based on their selection of Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.
Here's what Prisco had to say about the selection:
This is a need pick. They had to improve the range on the back end. Vaccaro had a heck of a coverage game against Tavon Austin.
It is debatable whether the Saints' largest need was safety. Though Jarvis Jones is not a selection I would have made, his position represented a larger need than safety.
Prisco is right, though, that Vaccaro can really cover man-to-man, as best shown against West Virginia's Tavon Austin, who was selected eighth overall by the St. Louis Rams in this draft.
To see all of Prisco's first-round grades, click here.
Here are Evan Silva's comments regarding the Saints' 2013 draft:
GM Mickey Loomis was working without a second-round pick due to Bountygate, but still landed two day-two values in Armstead and Jenkins and arguably a third on day three in speedster Stills. Vaccaro can team with Malcolm Jenkins to give Rob Ryan two safeties with range and one-on-one matchup skills, likely pushing overpriced box SS Roman Harper out the door. Jenkins is a mammoth athlete with a Haynesworthian ceiling. Johnson is a dominant small schooler with plus measurables, and Loomis has hit on that kind of player before (Akiem Hicks, Jermon Bushrod, Jahri Evans, Marques Colston). The Saints only added five players, but they were all quality picks. The Saints are going to be much better than they were last year.
Silva is correct in his assertion that Loomis did well in obtaining impact despite a lack of picks. Any right analysis would also add the fact he signed three guys as undrafted free agents who will likely make the Saints' final 2013 roster.
Some of his other comments (namely assuming that Harper is "out the door") show a lack of knowledge of the situation in New Orleans as a whole. And his "C+" grade, despite comments pretty equivalent to that of Kiper and Prisco, does not make a whole lot of sense.
For all of Silva's NFC draft grades, click here.
NFL.com's draft grades were actually voted on by fans, who determined the Saints' draft a "C." But Mike Mayock offered his analysis on the majority of selections.
Mayock's comment on Pick No. 15 overall, Kenny Vaccaro: "You finally have a safety that can play with Malcolm Jenkins as far as an athlete."
To some extent Mayock is correct. But Rafael Bush and Isa-Abdul Quddus are not exactly chopped liver in terms of athleticism. And Vaccaro likely won't be playing safety initially.
Mayock on Pick No. 75, Terron Armstead: "He's as raw as can be but had as freaky a combine as anyone not named Lane Johnson. When you plug him into New Orleans, this kid is a developmental player. You need to redshirt him, and he's a starter next year."
The film does not show Armstead to be "raw as can be." Instead it shows a highly productive collegiate player who uses great technique and freakish athleticism to his advantage. Mayock's right in that it would be ideal to "redshirt" Armstead. The Saints may not have that luxury, though.
Mayock on Pick No. 144, Kenny Stills: "He's an interesting kid because he can run. I'd like to see him be more physical. I think he has good hands. When you get to New Orleans with a guy like Drew Brees, he'll find a way to get the football to him."
It's difficult to disagree with Mayock on this one. Stills can run (sub-4.4 40-yard dash) and he needs to be more physical but has nice hands. Certainly Brees will get him the ball.
For all of nfl.com's analysis of the Saints' picks, click here.
Here is Rob Rang's full analysis of the Saints' 2013 draft class:
The road to the NFC South Division crown now runs through Atlanta and its dynamic passing attack, so the top cover safety in the draft, Kenny Vaccaro, makes sense in the first round. Really like the selection of highly athletic offensive tackle Terron Armstead as a potential replacement for Jermon Bushrod at left tackle. Armstead wowed at the East-West Shrine Game and improved throughout Senior Bowl week as a late addition before his eye-popping combine workout. If big Jon Jenkins can stay away from the po'boys, he could be a star in New Orleans. Watch out for wide receiver Kenny Stills as well. Sean Payton has shown a willingness to let young receivers earn roles, and Stills has the size, athleticism and swagger to become a trusted outlet for Drew Brees. I like the Saints' class, as a whole, but was disappointed that more help wasn't brought to the pass rush. Grade: B-
It's difficult to argue with Rang's conclusions. The Saints had opportunities throughout the draft to find impact pass-rushers. The team passed on some potentially good ones: Jarvis Jones (despite my own reservations), Alex Okafor in the third-round twice and Quanterus Smith, who was taken one pick after the Saints selected Kenny Stills in the fifth round.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter had the highest opinion of any draft grader I found across the Internet.
Schalter gave the team an "A-" based, it seems, primarily on the premise "the Saints got exactly what they needed, despite holding few picks, and got great value across the board."
Schalter especially loved the first three picks of the Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, Terron Armstead and John Jenkins.
While I appreciate Schalter's commending nature toward the Saints, I believe he has mistook Jenkins' value (as most analysts have). I also think he's much too kind to the team for passing over a potentially great pass-rusher (Quanterus Smith) in the fifth round and made too bold a claim in including Rufus Johnson in the sixth as "great value."
For all of Schalter's comments and rankings, click here (you can slide back and forth for other teams if you like).
All in all, though, the Saints' draft was made somewhere close to a "B" when including the incredible undrafted free-agent signings of Chase Thomas, Kevin Reddick and Ryan Griffin.