Report: 'Saints Know Any QB They Like Won't Be There' at No. 18 in 2022 NFL Draft

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 1, 2022

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 25: Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints looks to throw the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lumen Field on October 25, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints' decision to sign veteran quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton in free agency was reportedly linked to the team's outlook on the 2022 NFL draft.

"The Saints know any quarterback they like won't be there [at No. 18 overall]," a source told ESPN's Matt Miller on Friday.

Instead, New Orleans is "all-in on drafting a left tackle" early to replace Terron Armstead following his departure for the Miami Dolphins, per Miller.

The Saints are still searching for a new franchise quarterback following the retirement of Drew Brees last year.

Winston showed promising signs across seven games in 2021, tossing 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions, but he suffered a torn ACL in late October.

Taysom Hill, who competed with Winston for the starting job during last season's training camp, is being moved to tight end on a full-time basis ahead of the 2022 campaign.

Bringing back Winston and adding Dalton gives the team two battle-tested options while the search for long-term solution continues.

"I'm excited about getting to have a full offseason knowing that I'm going to be the quarterback of this team," Winston told reporters Monday. "I'm happy that I don't have to go into training camp with a question of whether or not I'm going to be leading this team or not."

Depending on his performance this fall, the Saints could be a major player for one of the top quarterback prospects in 2023.

Meanwhile, New Orleans must still figure out who'll be protecting Winston's blind side.

Armstead leaves a major void after earning three Pro Bowl appearances across nine years with the Saints. He earned a solid 75.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2021.

James Hurst is penciled in at left tackle, but it sounds like that may change on Day 1 of the draft.

Based on the latest mock draft from the B/R Scouting Department, the top offensive tackles who could be available at No. 18 include Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning and Central Michigan's Bernhard Raimann.

Even if the Saints go that route in the opening round, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them take a quarterback as a developmental project later in the draft.