"I don't see Luck in this draft, and I don't see Carson Wentz, who I liked a lot coming into the draft," the Saints head coach told Peter King of The MMQB. "I'd feel a little bit uneasy if I were at the top of this draft and I decided I had to have a quarterback. The pressure to get a quarterback is so great in this league, I get that. But we can't create 'em. I wouldn't be surprised if only one of these guys is left standing in four or five years, and if so, I'd guess it would be Sam Darnold."
Darnold and Josh Allen are believed to be the Cleveland Browns' likeliest choices for the No. 1 overall pick in this month's draft. While there could be as many as five quarterbacks taken in the first half of Thursday's Round 1, the fact no signal-caller has established himself as far and away the best prospect has caused some doubt to creep in.
Allen has soared up draft boards due to his prototypical build and arm strength but would have one of the weakest collegiate resumes for a No. 1 overall pick in history. He threw for 5,066 yards, 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions during his career at Wyoming, completing just 56.2 percent of his passes. Those numbers wouldn't even be great for a top pick who played at a Power Five school.
Darnold is arguably the safest quarterback on the board but does no one thing exceptionally well. He also saw his turnovers increase while his touchdowns and completion percentage decreased from his freshman to sophomore seasons at USC.
Publicly endorsing a quarterback ahead of the draft is an atypical move for an NFL coach, though it's easier for Payton given the Saints aren't in a position to take a top-ranked quarterback. New Orleans does not draft until the 27th pick.
With that pick, the Saints could look for an heir apparent to Drew Brees, who signed a two-year, $50 million contract this offseason. The Pro Bowler was yet again brilliant last season yet could see a decline as he approaches his 40th birthday.
Still, it's unlikely the Saints will mortgage any of their draft-pick capital for a quarterback in this class.