2021 NFL Draft Rumors: Saints 'Doing the Most Groundwork' for Possible Trade Up

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2021

New Orleans Saints helmets on the field against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (AP Images/Rick Osentoski)
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints have reportedly been active in trade talks to move up in the first round of Thursday's 2021 NFL draft.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Saints are "doing the most groundwork" of any team to potentially trade up and have even inquired about getting into the top 10.

New Orleans currently owns the No. 28 overall pick after winning the NFC South and reaching the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs last season.

New Orleans is a fairly deep team without many glaring weaknesses, but Rapoport suggested the Saints could be in the market for a cornerback to start opposite Marshon Lattimore.

Landing Alabama's Patrick Surtain II or South Carolina's Jaycee Horn would likely require a trade near the top 10. Meanwhile, Northwestern's Greg Newsome II, Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley or Florida State's Asante Samuel Jr. may be available in the 20s and perhaps even at pick No. 28.

Aside from corner, the Saints could look to address the quarterback position in the wake of Drew Brees' retirement. New Orleans is set to enter the 2021 season with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill competing for the starting role.

It isn't outside the realm of possibility that Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Trey Lance and Justin Fields could all come off the board within the first eight or nine selections.

That means New Orleans likely needs to make a huge move to get one of them. Even if one of the quarterbacks does fall, one can only assume the Saints would have to get ahead of the quarterback-needy New England Patriots at No. 15.

The Saints' other biggest needs are at wide receiver and tight end.

Florida's Kyle Pitts is the only tight end worth taking in the first round, and he figures to come off the board in the top five, so a trade up for a pass-catcher would likely be with an eye toward a wide receiver.

There is a clear top three at wideout with LSU's Ja'Marr Chase and Alabama's Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. Chase should go early, but if one of Waddle or Smith falls, they could be a target for a Saints team that needs a complement for Michael Thomas.

The 2021 draft is rich with receiver talent, however, so the Saints could land someone like Minnesota's Rashod Bateman, Florida's Kadarius Toney, Mississippi's Elijah Moore or LSU's Terrace Marshall Jr. should they decide to stay put.