New Orleans Saints 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling
The New Orleans Saints finished with an 11-5 record last season and won their first road playoff game in franchise history. Most of the moving parts have returned and, as long as Drew Brees is under center, there’s a chance for the team to do great things.
General manager Mickey Loomis put together a solid free-agency period, improving a team that was already playoff-caliber. He and head coach Sean Payton then had a fantastic 2014 NFL draft.
The Saints made just six picks, but their first two could make an immediate impact. The Saints’ first-round pick could be an early favorite for Rookie of the Year honors.
With everything that’s occurred since the 2013 season ended, New Orleans looks like a team that could be beginning a Super Bowl run. Here’s a look at this year’s draft, with a breakdown of the good, bad and the baffling picks.
2014 Draft Picks
- Round 1, Pick 20 (20th Overall) – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
- Round 2, Pick 26 (58th Overall) – Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
- Round 4, Pick 26 (126th Overall) – Khairi Fortt, ILB, California
- Round 5, Pick 27 (167th Overall) – Vinnie Sunseri, SS, Alabama
- Round 5, Pick 29 (169th Overall) – Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida
- Round 6, Pick 26 (202nd Overall) – Tavon Rooks, OT, Kansas State
Round 1, Pick 20 (20th Overall) – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Not only did the Saints need a wide receiver, they needed a receiver with the exact attributes Cooks possesses. Cooks is going to be able to stretch defenses and catch short-route passes (or even screens) and make people miss to churn yardage.
Cooks is going to take so much pressure off the rest of the wide receiver corps (and tight end Jimmy Graham), and open up this already potent offense. Any pick that makes it easier for the Saints to quickly score points is a great pick.
Round 2, Pick 26 (58th Overall) – Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
As much as the selection of Cooks helps the offense, adding Jean-Baptiste makes the defense much better too.
The New Orleans defense was incredibly improved in 2013, largely because of the way the defensive backfield played (an improved pass rush also helped). Jean-Baptiste being in New Orleans will make it more difficult to throw the ball against the Saints, helping the defense get off the field, and placing the ball in quarterback Drew Brees’ hands more frequently.
Round 4, Pick 26 (126th Overall) – Khairi Fortt, ILB, California
Fortt is more of a roving linebacker that’s going to help in coverage instead of an attack-the-quarterback weapon that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan enjoys to move around. But that’s OK, because the Saints needed to add some depth at linebacker, and Fortt not only does that, he can excel in an area of the game that escapes a lot of linebackers.
Round 5, Pick 29 (169th Overall) – Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida
The fifth round is a spot for teams to make reach picks, and the Saints have done rather well lately in the fifth round. Adding Powell to the team could turn out roses for New Orleans as well.
Derailed by injuries in college, Powell could offer the New Orleans defense a situational pass-rusher for Ryan to use at will. If Powell stays healthy and lives up to his unrealized potential, he could turn into a starter.
Round 6, Pick 26 (202nd Overall) – Tavon Rooks, OT, Kansas State
The Saints needed to add some depth along the offensive line, but will Rooks ever see the playing field in New Orleans?
Most sixth-round picks don’t end up being starters, but some upside would be nice. Rooks was ranked by CBS Sports/NFL Draft Scout as the 979th-ranked player overall.
Round 5, Pick 27 (167th Overall) – Vinnie Sunseri, SS, Alabama
Not only is Sunseri recovering from an injury (a torn ACL in his knee), he’s going to be added to a group of safeties where there’s little room to move up the depth chart.
The Saints already have starting-caliber safeties Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd and Rafael Bush on the roster. If the Saints were going to take a flier on a player, why do it at a position that’s already bogged down with talent?