The Saints were one terribly blown pass interference call away from a Super Bowl berth last season. With little holes to fill, here we see what the Saints do to improve their team.
The Saints have long time incumbent Drew Brees along for another season and another run at a Super Bowl. They do possibly have his eventual successor as in having resigned Teddy Bridgewater this year. The offensive line was a top three unit last season ranking 2nd in run blocking and 3rd in pass protection. Alvin Kamara is a top five running in the NFL and the team just signed Latavius Murray as his backup. Murray is a solid back but drafting somebody to fill his spot after his contract is up would be smart.
At tight end they recently signed Jared Cook who is coming off his best season of his career but is on the wrong side of 30. They also have Josh Hill returning but he has yet to make a relevant impact with the team. They should look into drafting somebody to take over this position. At wide receiver they have one of the best in the business in Michael Thomas who has been amazing for the Saints. After him though they have second year man Tre’Quan Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. Austin Carr will look to fill the slot role as well. This is not the most polarizing unit and can be improved.
The defensive line is an area of the strength for the Saints. On the edges they have long time star Cameron Jordan who is one of the most consistent defensive ends in the business. Opposite of Jordan they have rising star Marcus Davenport who really starting playing well at the end of last season. In the middle the Saints have Sheldon Rankins who is a former first round pick and has lived up to his draft position. Next to him they signed former Patriot Malcom Brown who is a run stuffer in the middle and looks to compliment Rankins well.
At linebacker is where the team gets a little thin. Demario Davis still played great last year and is the teams best linebacker but is 30 years old. Alex Anzalone played well in spurts last year and the same can be said for A.J. Klein. An upgrade at this position would be wise for the Saints.
The secondary is definitely a position of strength. At cornerback they employ shutdown corner Marcus Lattimore. Opposite of him they have Eli Apple who they traded for and had an excellent second half of the season. P.J. Williams is the teams nickel back and they still have Ken Crawley and Patrick Robinson for depth. At safety they have solid strong safety Vonn Bell and rangy free safety Marcus Williams. Outside of those two they do not have much depth and could spend some draft capital there.
Round 2, Pick #62 Riley Ridley, Wide Receiver- Georgia
Ridley never had eye-popping stats in college but his tape shows he has the tools. Ridley is not the fastest receiver in the draft but uses his impressive route running and breaks to get open. He is very physical and competitive and wins most 50-50 balls thrown his way. Ridley has plus body control and sure hands and does a great job at catching away from his body.
Football runs in the veins of this family as Calvin Ridley, last year a first round pick of the Falcons, is his older brother. Ridley would be a nice slot receiver for Drew Brees who already has Michael Thomas on the outside and Tre’Quan Smith who is the speedster of the group. If he can carve out a role as a possession receiver in this offense that could lead to big rookie year numbers.
Round 5, Pick #169 Ugo Amadi, Safety- Oregon
Amadi was originally signed as a top 20 cornerback recruit his Freshman year in Oregon. After one season there he made the move to safety. In four years and 48 games he totaled 165 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, three sacks, 25 passes defended, nine interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three touchdowns. Amadi also returned kicks for a season showing plus vision as a return man including a touchdown.
Amadi is tough and plays with quick feet and good awareness. He was a vocal leader and voted permanent team captain and also made back-end play calls for the team. With his corner capabilities he offers nickel coverage and above average safety play. He would be great depth across the secondary.
Round 6, Pick #178 Ryan Connelly, Linebacker- Wisconsin
Connelly is your prototypical Wisconsin linebacker, instinctive, tough and strong with below average athleticism. His spot on a roster is best suited for middle linebacker duties due to his size and athleticism deficiencies. He can be a productive player though, he is above average in zone coverage and is a very intelligent player.
Connelly reads plays well pre-snap and has good short area burst getting his hands on blockers before they can get to him. He can at least make the team to be a special teams ace and eventually can challenge Alex Anzalone for the starting middle linebacker gig.
Round 6, Pick #204 Kahale Warring, Tight End- San Diego St.
Every other team in the NFL better hope that Warring does not fall to the Saints here. He can be a very powerful tool for Drew Brees with what he brings to the table. Warring is a plus athlete with an incredibly strong frame. He is a former basketball player and it shows in his quick feet and ability to post up opposing players for position. His hips are very fluid and flip nicely and runs solid routes at all levels and can line up in the slot.
Warring is also a plus blocker both at the line and in space. Having a man who athletic being a lead blocker downfield for Alvin Kamara could be lethal. He also would provide a large red zone target for Drew Brees to look for and has the ability to be a future top 10 tight end routinely in the NFL.
Round 7, Pick #233 Trayveon Williams, Running Back- Texas A&M
Trayveon Williams projects to be a strong committee back or third down back. He is not great at one thing but also does not have too many glaring deficiencies. Williams is an above average pass blocker and willingly picks up blitzers. He has good patience and has quick elusive moves to make players miss. The Saints have Latavius Murray right now backing up Alvin Kamara but I do not think he is a long-term option. Trayveon Williams can turn into the teams next Mark Ingram and form a nice one-two punch with Kamara.
Round 7, Pick #246 Ty Summers, Linebacker- TCU
Ty Summers is a linebacker that could play all three linebacker positions. He has great play strength and decent size at 241 Lbs. to play strongside linebacker as he played the edge at TCU at times. He also has a very high motor and can make plays for the defense and possesses a 4.51 second 40 yard dash that should allow him to play the middle linebacker position. Summers would need to work on his coverage technique but has the size and speed to stay with tight ends that would allow him to play the weakside linebacker position.
Summers projects to be an elite special teams contributor to start his career. He is a very intelligent player and has proven to be coachable which leaves the door open for playing time other than special teams. Summers could be the strongside replacement for A.J. Klein.
The Saints did not have a first round pick but still made vast improvements to an already loaded roster. Their first pick which was in the second round was Riley Ridley out of Georgia, a strong handed possession receiver to play the slot for Drew Brees. With their second pick, which goes all the way into the fifth round they grab versatile defensive back Ugo Amadi who adds depth to virtually every secondary position.
With two picks in the sixth round they start by grabbing hard-nosed linebacker Ryan Connelly out of Wisconsin to put pressure on A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone for starting spots. Then later in the sixth the Saints get a possible steal and maybe the steal of the draft selecting Kahale Warring, an uber athletic tight end out of San Diego St.
With two picks in the seventh round as well they start by grabbing future committee back Trayveon Williams. Williams has the ability to be the team’s future Mark Ingram. With their final pick in the draft the team selects Ty Summers out of TCU. He should be a n elite special teamer while also challenging the starting lineabckers for their jobs.
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