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The entire offseason emphasis for the New Orleans Saints has been to acquire playmakers. Defensively, we saw that in adding Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd. In adding Brandin Cooks, the offense received a jolt and a guy who can fly around the Superdome turf making big play after big play.
By selecting Cooks, they found a player who truly plays receiver but can also fill their “flex” role. They killed two birds with one stone.
Was it a need? In my opinion, no. But the Saints knew what they wanted and got it. Kudos!
On Day 2, the Saints are likely to look for a solid cover corner who doubles as a playmaker. There is one player in particular who fills both of those qualifications.
They can also look at a center—the one spot on the team where the 2014 starter remains in question. Outside linebacker, inside linebacker and a few other spots could be targeted as well. Here are the needs, listed in order:
Cornerback was one of the greatest needs coming into the draft. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers bringing Megatron Jr. (Mike Evans) into the mix—pairing him with Vincent Jackson—finding a bigger, physical corner to match up against them is of paramount importance (note: the Falcons of course already present a similar challenge).
Staying with the playmaker theme, the best fit for the spot is a player who also has a knack for taking away the football and making things happen with it once the ball in his possession.
It’s pretty simple, Tim Lelito remains the presumed starter heading into OTAs and training camp. That could change if the Saints choose to take a center in the second round, or even later.
Southern California center Marcus Martin was the presumed pick for the Saints if they stayed at No. 27. It’s unlikely he’ll be available at pick No. 58.
There are a few other solid options—some of whom may have second round grades next to their name.
Coming into this draft, I identified eight players as “elite” pass-rushers. Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Marcus Smith and Dee Ford among them are all off the board after one round. The only two remaining among that group are BYU’s Kyle Van Noy and Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu.
If either of those two players are available at No. 58, they’d have to be in consideration for the Saints. Otherwise, the Saints may just have to go with the guys they have in the building at the position (or do what they often do and find someone from a no-name college to develop into a star).
This position is needed mostly for depth. Selecting an inside linebacker any earlier than the fifth round would probably be a luxury. That doesn’t mean the Saints won’t look for one earlier, only that they can allow this need to come to them.
As mentioned previously, tight end isn’t a huge need. But there are enough talented players at the position that taking one in the fourth, fifth or sixth round makes a ton of sense. Ideally, a guy who can double as a great blocker and receiving threat is the goal.
Benjamin Watson fills that role now, but is aging and 2014 is likely his last year of superb productivity. His replacement could be found in this draft.