2011 NFL Draft Grades: New Orleans Saints Look Super with Draft Results
The New Orleans Saints are certain to be a Super Bowl-contender this year, but after a very successful draft they may be the team to beat.
The Saints attacked this draft from round one, drafting players who match their needs and have high ceilings. The draft is very objective and anything can happen in the future, but as of right now, the Saints have clearly emerged as winners.
The Saints have one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL, but last year the defense was a weakness. The Saints set out to address that in the first round and hit a home run when the drafted Cameron Jordan, a defensive end out of California.
Jordan answers a need for a pass rusher on defense, and the Saints were not finished.
Many draft experts were a bit surprised when the Saints passed on running back Mark Ingram in favor of Jordan. The speculation was that Ingram would be scooped up at the end of the first round by the Green Bay Packers.
The Saints were not about to let that happen and called on the trade-happy New England Patriots to get back into the first round. The Patriots were happy to trade out of the first round, and the Saints swooped in to add Mark Ingram to the crowded backfield, much to the chagrin of Reggie Bush.
The Saints gave up a second-round pick this year and a first-round pick next year to make Ingram a member of the Saints.
The Saints went into the third round of the draft with an eye on improving the defense. Using a pick they acquired from the Washington Redskins, the Saints drafted linebacker Martez Wilson.
Jonathan Vilma is not getting any younger, and his production is on the decline. Vilma will be a terrific mentor for Wilson as he grows in the Saints system. The Saints get great versatility in Wilson as he can play inside but is flexible enough to rush the passer from the outside and play in nickel packages. The Saints keep their streak of successful selections with this pick.
Depth on Defense
The Saints used their remaining pick in the third round on Johnny Patrick, a cornerback out of Louisville. For the first time in the draft, the Saints drafted based on want instead of need. The Saints have quality cornerbacks and could have used a safety, but in drafting Patrick, the Saints now have depth in the secondary.
This will allow them to move their defenses around to meet the needs of the packages they will use on game day.
Most teams draft developmental prospects with all of the top caliber talent off the board, but the Saints did their homework.
They had two picks in the seventh and again went to defense, starting off the round by picking Greg Romeus out of Pittsburgh. Romeus had all the skills to be a top player taken in the draft, but a back injury followed by a torn ACL, took him out of the running. The Saints believe he is healthy enough to take a flier on Romeus, and if it pays off, he would be the steal of the draft.
With the second pick in the seventh round the Saints drafted Nathan Bussey, a linebacker out of Illinois. Bussey will be a special teams' player, but with the right grooming he could contribute.
Draft Day Grade
The Saints had one of the best drafts in the NFL and deserve an A+. They were aggressive in their approach, grabbing the players they wanted and filling gaps all at the same time.
The defense got considerably stronger, and the offense added a dangerous weapon.
The Saints organization should be proud as they dominated on draft day.
Draft Day Grade: A+
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.