Month: April 2020

New Orleans Saints Wager their Remaining 2020 Draft Picks for Pair of Third-Round Studs

Adam Forsythe / April 25, 2020

The New Orleans Saints entered the 2020 NFL Draft with five total selections. After using their first-round pick on Michigan center Cesar Ruiz, the Saints were left with on selection in each of the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds. With the Saints having one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, they knew it would need to value quality over quantity in this year’s draft. They also knew they could be aggressive in pursuing some of the top ranked players that they really liked. That’s exactly how the Saints approached the third round of the draft.

Their first move of the night came when they decided to trade up from their spot at pick number 88 to the Cleveland Browns pick at number 74. It cost the Saints their 88th overall selection as well as a 2021 third round pick, but they also received the Browns 2020 seventh round pick in the trade.

With the 74th overall pick acquired from the Browns, the Saints selected former Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun.

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Baun had a monstrous 2019 season with the Badgers as he amassed 75 total tackles and 12.5 sacks. He even added two forced fumbles and one interception to his resume. Linebacker was a position of need for the Saints that many people believed the team would address in the first round, but they were able to wait until the third round and select a player that many scouts considered a first-round talent. Baun will fit in nicely with the New Orleans Saints.

After the selection of Baun, the Saints were not done making moves to get the players they wanted. In a somewhat surprising move, the Saints traded up with the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints received the Vikings 105th overall pick in the third round, however, it cost the Saints their fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh (acquired from the Browns) selections in the 2020 NFL Draft.

With the 105th pick in the draft, the Saints selected former Dayton tight end Adam Trautman.

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Trautman was the number one tight end in the draft for many NFL scouts so it was extremely surprising to see him still available in the third round. In his final season with the Dayton Flyers, Trautman hauled in 70 receptions for 916 yards and 14 touchdowns. Although the Saints already have a proven starter at tight end with veteran Jared Cook, Trautman gives the Saints a dynamic receiving threat to employ in two tight end sets that may even take over for Cook in the future.

The name of the game for the Saints’ 2020 NFL Draft was quality over quantity. The Saints felt comfortable trading away their later picks in order to get two players that they believe can be starters on their team. Given the tremendous depth of the Saints’ roster, it would have likely been very difficult for a late-round pick to make the team. The Saints front office now has the ability to fully prepare for the wave of undrafted free agents once the draft concludes later on today.

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New Orleans Saints Shock the Fanbase with 1st Round Selection of Cesar Ruiz

Adam Forsythe / April 24, 2020

With the 24th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints were on the clock. Many fans were prepared to watch their team select a flashy player. The draft board fell nicely for the Saints as there were several “sexy” picks that the team could select from. Among those players was former LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, an outstanding player who would’ve addressed a team need for the Saints. Another player that many people had their eyes on was former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who many believed could be Drew Brees’ successor. However, when the Saints made their selection on Thursday night, they chose to pass on those options and select a player that confused much of the Who Dat Nation.

The New Orleans Saints spent their 24th overall pick on former Michigan center Cesar Ruiz. Perhaps the most confusion comes from the fact that the Saints spent a second round pick on center Erik McCoy in the 2019 NFL Draft. McCoy had a really nice rookie season so many considered the center position to be locked down. While I was initially confused with the draft pick, I ultimately believe it was a great selection for the team.

Adding Ruiz to the offensive line gives the Saints unreal versatility. The guard position has been a source of inconsistency for the team in recent years. Current left guard Andrus Peat has been susceptible to injury, but even when he was healthy, he was wildly inconsistent on the field. At the right guard position, veteran Larry Warford took a step back in his play last season. This was a spot where the Saints felt they needed an upgrade. Current center Erik McCoy has experience playing at guard through his time at Texas A&M. With that knowledge, I think the Saints will look to transition McCoy to the right guard position to compete with Warford while they place Ruiz at his natural center position. Another scenario could be to transition Ruiz to right guard and allow McCoy to stay at the center position, although I believe the former is the best solution.

Ruiz was truly dominant at the collegiate level. Several teams ranked him as the number one interior lineman in this year’s draft. While this year is a truly loaded draft class, the interior offensive lineman seem to have the biggest gap between the top players. Selecting the number one guy now and addressing other needs later in the draft was a smart move by the Saints’ front office. Ruiz will be a true difference maker for the team who provides immediate impact as well as a future star for whoever takes the reins once Drew Brees retires.

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New Orleans Saints Select Drew Brees’ Successor? 2020 NFL Mock Draft

Adam Forsythe / April 22, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2020 NFL Draft is almost here. Although it won’t be quite the production that many fans are accustomed to viewing each year, it will still serve as a break from the current state of the world.

This year’s class is loaded with talent all across the board. Teams will likely be able to snag plenty of players in later rounds that will be starters at the next level. It will be very exciting to see how the draft shakes out in the coming days.

The New Orleans Saints have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. They already had great talent on their roster prior to the beginning of free agency, but by signing former 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and reuniting with safety Malcolm Jenkins, the Saints filled two of the weaker spots on the team. Now, with the NFL Draft approaching, the Saints are in a great position to let the draft come to them and will likely make selections on a “best player available” basis. Here’s how I think the Saints will use their five picks in this year’s draft.

Round 1, Pick 24

LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

Kenneth Murray Image

While the New Orleans Saints do not have any glaring weaknesses on their roster, the linebacker core could use a youthful boost. Insert Kenneth Murray. The 6’2″ Junior was a tackling machine at Oklahoma amassing 334 total tackles during his three seasons on the field. At the NFL Combine, Murray lit up the eyes of those in attendance as he ran a 4.52 second forty yard dash (6th fastest among linebackers) and excelled in the on-field drills. To match his skills on the field, Murray’s character is truly off the charts. Scouts, coaches, GMs, and NFL media personnel have all raved about Murray’s leadership capabilities. Red flags surrounding Murray have been scarce to nonexistent throughout this entire process. Adding Murray to a linebacker core that includes All-Pro Demario Davis and a healthy rotation of Kiko Alonso and Alex Anzalone could provide the Saints with one of the most dynamic groups in the NFL.

Round 3, Pick 88

QB Jake Fromm, Georgia

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As the offseason progressed, head coach Sean Payton made it clear that he believes backup quarterback and certified Swiss army knife Taysom Hill will be the starting quarterback for the Saints once future hall of famer Drew Brees decides to hang up the cleats. However, I do not believe nor do I agree 100% with coach Payton on this decision. Hill, turning 30 years old later this year, has struggled to progress as a starting caliber quarterback and his age is certainly not helping his case. Depending on how the draft board falls, I believe the Saints will be looking to add a rookie signal-caller to learn behind Brees. While he is certainly not the most perfect prospect, I believe Jake Fromm has the potential to be a great player in the NFL. During his three seasons at Georgia, the former bulldog threw for 8,236 yards, 78 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions while completing 63.3% of his passes. Despite the numbers, Fromm showed inconsistencies in his throwing capabilities, sometimes missing easy throws. Pairing that with a lackluster performance at the combine, many people have begun to write Fromm off. However, the issues that Fromm has displayed can be fixed under the right system. The New Orleans offense could be the perfect spot for him to grow and learn from one of the greatest to ever throw a football.

Round 4, Pick 130

WR Gabriel Davis, UCF

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The fanbase of the New Orleans Saints has been clamoring for the team to add another playmaking wide receiver to pair along with their superstar receiver Michael Thomas. In free agency, the team addressed this need by bringing in veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders. However, in the NFL, a team can never have too many playmakers. Luckily the wide receiver class this year is the deepest in a long time. Teams may have the ability to select a true difference maker in the fourth round and maybe even the fifth. I think the Saints will use this pick to select UCF’s Gabriel Davis. Davis had a tremendous final season with the Knights as he hauled in 72 receptions for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns. Davis also had a solid combine performance, locking in a 4.53 second speed in the forty yard dash. Although that is not considered blazing speed, it is still enough to make plays. As far as measurable traits, Davis compares nicely to Michael Thomas. Davis’ height and weight measured at 6’2″ and 216 pounds at the combine. In comparison, Thomas is currently 6’3″ tall and weighs 212 pounds. Thomas also ran similar numbers to Davis in the forty yard dash at 4.57 seconds. While he may not be a home-run selection, Gabriel Davis should provide the Saints with another quality weapon for Drew Brees.

Round 5, Pick 169

CB Lamar Jackson, Nebraska

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Cornerback depth is similar to wide receivers, a team can never have too many of them. The Saints have a solid cornerback duo with young star Marshon Lattimore and veteran Janoris Jenkins. Adding depth behind those two is crucial for this team’s success. Lamar Jackson (no, not the 2019 NFL MVP quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens) can help build that depth. The former cornhusker has the ideal size for a corner back standing at 6’2″ and weighing 208 pounds. Through his four-year career at Nebraska, the lengthy corner secured five interceptions and 123 total tackles. Although he doesn’t have all the traits of a starter right now, his ideal size is very promising. Developing under the current starters could be of great benefit to Jackson.

Round 6, Pick 203

RB J.J. Taylor, Arizona

JJ Taylor image

During the 2019 season, the Saints young superstar Alvin Kamara didn’t seem to have the same burst that he had in his first two seasons. This lack of explosiveness can likely be attributed to ankle and knee injuries that Kamara suffered during the campaign. Backup running back Latavius Murray did a nice job filling in for Kamara when he was called upon. However, adding J.J. Taylor to the running back group would give yet another potential weapon to the high-powered New Orleans offense. Through his four years at Arizona, Taylor ran for 3,263 yards and 18 touchdowns while also catching 62 passes for 487 yards and two touchdowns. Most of his production through the air came in his final season with the Wildcats where he showed how much potential he has to be a receiving back at the next level. Another key factor to keep in mind is the contract situation between the New Orleans Saints and Kamara. With the running back due for a contract extension, it is unclear how talks have gone between the two sides. If the team chooses not to sign Kamara to a new contract, Taylor may be in the team’s plans moving forward.

It will be quite exciting to see how the New Orleans Saints attack this year’s draft. Be sure to tune in to either ESPN, ABC, or NFL Network at 8 PM ET on Thursday, April 23 to see how the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft unfolds.

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