Saints: Final Draft Grades
The New Orleans Saints were in perfect position to take a giant leap forward with a loaded defensive draft, but the Saints continue to prove why they are one of the most incompetent franchises in the NFL.
To put it mildly, they shit the bed worse than a three-year-old with explosive diarrhea.
They have a top four quarterback and are coming off their third straight losing season. They have somehow convinced the fans that they are “so close” to being a perennial playoff team again. Three straight losing seasons prove otherwise.
Complacency, arrogance and stupidity has led to the Saints going from a promising franchise to irrelevant.
They didn’t do themselves any favors with their draft decisions this year. If they actually faced the facts that they have entered a mini-rebuild, my grades would look a little different. This organization lacks so much self-awareness. It is pathetic. But since they keep insisting they can win now, I will go off of the “win now” philosophy.
Round 1 (11) – (CB) Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
Lattimore may be the best corner, but the Saints have their work cut out for them. He plays the receiver and not the ball, which could lead to ton of penalties in his rookie season. He tends to shift his weight to his heels on breaks causing him to grab the jersey of his opponent. He is still so raw.
That normally wouldn’t be a problem because those things can be coached, but stop preaching that you are trying to win now when you use your 11th pick on a guy who needs a ton of work.
I understand cornerback was a massive “need” for the Saints and Lattimore was the best one. But not all positions are created equal. In terms of position importance, it is way down the totem pole. Good teams build from the inside out and not the outside in. If you have a great pass rush (Saints don’t), you can make up for weaker corners. If you are asking a corner to cover ground for 4.0 seconds vs 2.5, good luck to you.
I also loathe taking corners this early in the draft because I feel it is a wasted pick. There are only three or four game changing corners (Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, Marcus Peters and Vontae Davis) in the NFL when you have about 96 starters if you include nickel guys.
Had he been the best player available, I would have loved the selection, but Jonathan Allen and Derek Barnett were still on the board. Both are great pass rushers.
If the Saints had any clue what they were doing, they would have traded back a few spots (see Browns and 49ers) and hoarded more draft picks for later. Then you take the leftovers. By trading back two spots, you will still get Lattimore, Barnett or Allen.
Meanwhile you have ways and means to trade back into the first round (49ers and Browns) to take Reuben Foster, TJ Watt or Tre’Davious White. You end up with three first rounders and you address two big needs.
You fucked up.
Who I would have selected: (DE) Jonathan Allen, Alabama
Round 1 (32) – Ryan Ramczyk, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Because the Saints shot themselves in the foot by not trading down and wasting the first selection by not adding a pass rusher, they screwed themselves on this one. I love that they were going to grab Reuben Foster until John Lynch moved San Francisco back in to steal him. Because John Lynch is not to be fucked with.
With Watt, White, Peppers, Foster and virtually any other major defensive guys gone, you were forced to take a player that isn’t sexy. As I said earlier, build from the inside out. I don’t hate the pick simply because who else was there worth taking?
Strief isn’t getting any younger and the Saints have always had depth at the line because they usually carried a sixth man. Strief used to be that guy. I don’t hate this at all. Just a shame the Saints couldn’t be more aggressive to address bigger needs on defense.
Don’t hate the pick, hate that they were forced to select offense.
Who I would have selected: Ramczyk
Round 2 (42) – (S) Marcus Williams, Utah
Considering there were no pass rushers you would necessarily take here without it being a reach, I can’t hate too hard on this one. Again, the Saints pretty much screwed themselves from the start. Maybe Williams could be a turnover machine, something they haven’t seen since Darren Sharper.
He has been highly touted as one of 2017’s big sleepers so not too shabby here considering the hand was forced.
You address a need and he was one of the best overall available. When I look at who was drafted after him, this was a perfect pick. Williams has a high upside and will likely be a role player right away. He will get his looks in the rotation with Kenny Vaccaro, Von Bell, Roman Harper and Rafael Bush.
Who I would have selected: Williams
Round 3 (67) – (RB) Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
I said the Saints were going to draft a third down back considering Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram are both two down backs. Kamara is as good of option as any because he can be a great weapon receiving from the backfield.
However, it came at the expense of a seventh round choice (Chad Kelly anyone?) and a 2018 second (WHY!). Makes absolutely zero sense.
You address a need for a third down back, but trade a high pick next year to do so? Classic case of Payton being infatuated with offensive guys.
Who I would have selected: (OLB) Jordan Willis, Kansas State
Round 3 (76) – (OLB) Alex Anzalone, Florida
Aside from long blonde locks of lusciousness, I hate this pick. I understand adding depth at linebacker. But Anzalone is no good if he can never play. Injuries have been plaguing him.
He has the perfect body type to play linebacker. While he has a high motor which is always great, he is undisciplined in gap assignments and can be moved easily.
He is bringing versatility because he is a three-down linebacker, which could help a weak linebacking unit.
I would have preferred someone like Tim Williams if the Saints felt the need to go linebacker.
Who I would have selected: (CB) Fabian Moreau, UCLA
Round 3 (103) – (OLB) Trey Hendrickson, Florida Atlantic
I actually like this for depth. But when your biggest need is a pass rusher and he is the first guy you take, might as well wipe my ass with this pick.
It is easy to get locked into gaudy numbers. The reality is he is another high motor player, which is gold for defensive lineman. That seems to be a trait many of them lack. He is a second effort sack guy though. I see him as a rotational guy, perhaps a third down rusher. Not too shabby.
My grade would be higher had this not been the first rusher the Saints snagged.
Who I would have selected: (RB) TJ Logan, North Carolina
Round 6 (196) – (DE) Al-Quadin Muhammad, Miami
Just your typical case of a guy who had potential, but is too much of an idiot to capitalize on it. Suspensions and being booted off Miami are just some of the red flags. At this point in the draft, this is where you go for risky picks anyway. Many are projecting him to be an OLB due to his taller and lengthier frame.
Who I would have selected: (TE) Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
Overall Grades and Thoughts
Talent- I don’t see any of the picks from the first three rounds as a true “bust” with the exception of Anzalone. Lattimore could develop into a great corner someday. Williams can be a productive player immediately. I believe Ramczyk starts at Right Tackle day one. Kamara is likely the third down back. TALENT GRADE: B+
Value- I will say the Saints stayed at home and didn’t reach hard for anyone. Lattimore was a projected top 10 pick and they got him at 11. Ramczyk should have probably been selected in the early 20s and he fell to 32. Williams, Kamara and Anzalone were all projected to be second round choices. Two of them went in the third. VALUE GRADE: A
Potential- The potential is certainly there. I believe Lattimore could develop into star within these next two years. Marcus Williams could be the turnover machine the Saints have been missing since Darren Sharper. If Anzalone can stay healthy, he can be a long time starter similar to a Scott Fujita. He will never be elite or regular pro-bowler, but marginal nonetheless. POTENTIAL GRADE: B+
Philosophy- This is where I struggle the most. The Saints claim they want to win now, but they used the 11th pick on a corner back who will need a ton of work instead of taking a player who like Allen who can be a great player from day one. They failed to address their biggest need for an edge rusher until round three. They used the 32nd pick on a position that wasn’t a high need (although he was the best there). They also traded up for a third down back giving up next year’s second. Easily the dumbest move of the draft for them. PHILOSOPHY GRADE: F
OVERALL FINAL DRAFT GRADE: C+
My Draft Class:
Round 1 (11) – (DE) Jonathan Allen, Alabama
Round 1 (32) – (OL) Ryan Ramcyzk, Wisconsin
Round 2 (42) – (S) Marcus Williams, Utah
Round 3 (67) – (OLB) Jordan Willis, Kansas State
Round 3 (76) – (CB) Fabian Moreau, UCLA
Round 3 (103) – (RB) TJ Logan, North Carolina
Round 6 (196) – (TE) Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
And obviously, mine would be an A.