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
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
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
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
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
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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