New Orleans Saints: Top Three Needs in the 2021 NFL Draft
With the 2021 NFL Draft on the horizon, the New Orleans Saints will be prime candidates for drafting based on positional need rather than anything else. With some glaring holes along the 53-man roster, they will need to address them both in free agency as well as the draft. In this article, I will be going over the three positions the Saints three biggest positional needs for the draft, and which players they could look to target to fill those roles.
Saints Positional Need 1 – Cornerback
The most glaring and obvious need for the Saints would be cornerback without a doubt. With the loss of Janoris Jenkins this offseason, they have almost no depth at the position. Marshon Lattimore is still CB1 of course, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson would likely be in the nickel/slot role, but outside that they have no CB2 or depth. The next few players on the depth chart at CB are relatively low end depth pieces to roster fillers. These being:
- Patrick Robinson (getting older, relatively decent depth piece)
- Grant Haley (young undersized slot option behind CGJ)
- PJ Williams (significantly better as a safety, poor as a CB)
- Keith Washington Jr. (a relative unknown, has not played much at NFL level)
Outside those four, that is about it for the Saints depth as of now. Realistically I do not believe any Saints fans, including myself, would put their trust in any of those four to become the CB2 long term. Drafting one in the late first round or mid second round would most definitely be an option for New Orleans. With players like Greg Newsome, Eric Stokes, Asante Samuel Jr., and potentially Caleb Farley (due to injury history) falling into that range the Saints could have their choice of a CB if multiple get to their pick.
Positional Need 2 – Linebacker
The second biggest need for the Saints is on the next level down from the secondary, with linebackers. With the Saints running a 4-3 style defense, they will need to fill the third starting linebacker spot, and quickly. Giving the Saints the benefit of the doubt, we will consider Zack Baun to be a viable starting option and believe he will pan out and develop. That leaves the Saints with Demario Davis, Zack Baun, and… not much else. Similar to the CB position, the Saints have 2 of the 3 starting positions filled, but not the 2nd, and have absolutely no viable depth behind those few.
Right now the Saints starting LB3 would be either Kaden Elliss or Andrew Dowell, both of whom have little to no NFL starting experience, specifically long term. This needs to be an emphasis of the Saints drafting period, potentially first or second round, considering this LB class is not exceptionally deep as of now. Looking in the direction of someone like Zaven Collins, Nick Bolton, or Jamin Davis in day one or two would be potentially the best fits for a New Orleans schemed defense. Collins would add some secondary help considering his abilities in coverage. Nick Bolton would create a devastating 1-2 punch with Demario in the run stopping and pass rush game. Or Jamin Davis whose athletic prowess fits exactly what Sean Payton looks for.
Saints Positional Need 3 – Wide Receiver
Finally we have the only offensive need of the article, in wide receiver. This may not be the most glaring need for the Saints, however it most definitely is one after seeing last years performance. Michael Thomas went from looking like a top five receiver in the league to barely playing because of injuries, and when he did play he did not look like himself. Outside of that there are not many options, such as:
- Deonte Harris (good in end arounds or posts, elite returner)
- Marquez Callaway (had a solid rookie year, could potentially become WR2)
- Jalen McCleskey (good slot option, ran a 4.28 40 yard dash at pro day)
- Tre’Quan Smith (was supposed to be a high level WR2 in the league, did not pan out as of now)
Outside of those few it is mainly UDFA signings the Saints had in the last few years. The Saints could really use a high level talent to either take over WR1 from MT or develop into a true WR2 talent who can take pressure off Thomas.
What positions do you think the Saints need to draft? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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