Saints Tipping Draft Plans? New Orleans Gives Clue with Recent Activity

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IApril 12, 2010

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 28: Alex Brown #96 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a sack of Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on December 28, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 36-30 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Take a look at the mock drafts around the World Wide Web and you will notice one thing when it comes to the 32nd overall pick: Everyone has a different answer.

One reason for the discrepancy is that there are 31 other teams that affect the draft and the availability of players.

The other is that the Saints can improve at nearly every position.

Scan the offensive roster and you'll notice holes at running back, tight end, fullback, and backup quarterback. Add left tackle to the list if Jammal Brown doesn't return 100 percent from hip and hernia surgeries.

Defense, however, is where the talent pool and depth chart is a little more shallow. The Saints began the offseason with needs at defensive end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and free safety (if Darren Sharper doesn't return).

Since the Saints are set at cornerback (when was the last offseason we could say that?) and can move Malcolm Jenkins to free safety if needed, New Orleans can now draft the best available front seven player.

The Saints desperately need speed on the edges to rush the passer and could also use a stout body in the middle of the line to bring some attitude to toughen up the run defense.

After releasing defensive end Charles Grant, New Orleans signed former Bears starter Alex Brown and have scheduled a visit with former Buccaneers starter Jimmy Wilkerson.

This tells me that the Saints feel that the defensive ends who they project to fall to them at the end of the first round (perhaps Florida's Carlos Dunlap or Southern Cal's Everson Griffen) aren't worth taking with the 32nd overall pick.

Look for the Saints to go one of three ways with their first pick.


1. Outside Linebacker

My best guess is that New Orleans has its sights set on Missouri senior Sean Weatherspoon. He's got the size and athleticism to pressure the quarterback, stop the run, and drop into coverage.


2. Defensive Tackle

I questioned the defense's toughness at times last season, especially against teams like Carolina and Minnesota who were able to run the ball at will against New Orleans. The Saints need a tackle to play alongside Sederick Ellis and I bet they are hoping that either Dan Williams, Jared Odrick, or Brian Price fall their way.


3. Trade

If the Saints can't find value with their first pick, then I expect them to trade down in order to collect another pick or two. New Orleans only has three picks in the top 100 and six overall.

Given the depth of this draft, especially on the defensive side, I expect the Saints to get a quality player no matter what they decide to do.