Entering the 2020 NFL draft, the Saints are in a great position to add some pieces to a championship caliber roster. As it stands today, the Saints already have one of the strongest teams in the NFL. With few holes needing to be addressed, the opportunity to build towards a championship run. The Saints find themselves in a key win now window as we draw closer to the end of Drew Brees‘ career. Let’s take a look at how New Orleans has done this off-season so far.
Free Agency So Far
The Saints have made some big decisions in free agency so far. The front office has made it clear they believe the championship window is still open. The biggest off-season move the Saints have made was bringing Drew Brees back on a 2 year $50m deal. Brees is still performing at an elite level, posting the second best PFF grade of any quarterback in 2019. This year Brees will have another weapon after Emmanuel Sanders signed a two-year deal with New Orleans. Last season Sanders had 66 receptions for 869 yards and projects as an ideal complement for Michael Thomas. The Saints also retained guard Andrus Peat to a 5-year extension. Last year Peat was a key piece to a very talented offensive line.
On defense, the Saints made it a priority to bring back David Onyemata to bolster their interior line. The Saints also went on to bring back some veterans to their secondary. Janoris Jenkins was brought back on a 2-year deal to add depth at corner. Another key move was replacing safety Von Bell; who signed with Cincinnatti, with veteran Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins will be remembered for his last tenure in New Orleans included a Super Bowl victory over the Colts. Finally, last year’s backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also signed with the Panthers to be their starting quarterback.
Saints Draft Needs
The Saints don’t have too many pressing needs which is a luxury, but the draft is the perfect time to capitalize on this luxury. The defense is the most likely area to add an impact player. Both linebacker and cornerback are areas New Orleans could be looking to improve with at pick 24. The rest of the draft likely will be adding depth and future value for the franchise.
Aside from Marshon Lattimore, no cornerback on the roster has a definite role on the team. Janoris Jenkins is still a good corner, but definitely on the decline at this point in his career. Last year New Orleans ranked 20th in the league against the pass. Making matters worse, Tampa Bay is putting together a huge overhaul on offense which will be trouble. Drafting a cornerback early seems like a no-brainer if the right guy is still on the board.
Demario Davis is a great piece to have in the heart of the defense. That being said, it’s definitely foreseeable the Saints would want to pair him up with another top linebacker. As one of the weaker units on the team, this could definitely be an area improved on with pick 24. New Orleans finished 4th in the league against the run in 2019. Being stout against the run could make the priority a linebacker who can drop back into coverage. The other reason the Saints could want a coverage linebacker is to take advantage of their defensive line. Last year New Orleans ranked 3rd in the league in sacks largely due to strong defensive line play. A linebacker who can be a field general and drop into coverage could be just what this defense needs.
Bringing in Emmanuel Sanders is definitely a key pickup for a receiving corps that aside from Michael Thomas is pretty lackluster. Even with this addition, it’s likely New Orleans is looking at options in the draft. Getting Brees another weapon on offense is likely going to be a priority this weekend. The upcoming draft has been lauded as a great wide receiver draft. This draft projects to have talented receivers available when the Saints resume drafting in round 3. Getting a receiver in the day 2-3 range makes plenty of sense this weekend.
Whether or not you believe Taysom Hill is the future at quarterback, the need for another quarterback is obvious. Last year when Brees went down with an injury the Saints relied on the arm of Teddy Bridgewater. Without Bridgewater, it only makes sense for the Saints to look into adding another arm behind Brees. This year is looking to have an interesting quarterback class that could present some talent available in the middle rounds. While Drew Brees is still in the fold, landing a young arm to learn behind him could be a priority.