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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