DECISION-TIME: Options for Saints in the Upcoming Draft


The New Orleans Saints are in definite need of pass rush help after a nightmare season on defense.

As the offseason began, fans dreamed of a big name prospect that the front office can draft who can help their team and be that added piece to the puzzle on either side of the ball.

Saints fans are no different and were hoping that there could be “that guy” who will fall to them and instantly plug into defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s system.

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It began in early February before the NFL Scouting Combine when Florida University’s Dante Fowler Jr. was being linked to the Saints as a potential pick.

Then along came another linebacker, this time it was former Clemson University pass rusher Vic Beasley.

Even I began to go through the scenario of if this player went here and another team went in this direction in the draft that one of them might fall to the Saints.

Other pass rushers like Missouri’s Shane Ray and Nebraska’s Randy Gregory were not even in my thought process because I already assumed they’d be gone before the 10th pick.

The Scouting Combine came and instantly any Saints fan, or any fan of a team below the 10th pick for that matter, should have snapped out of their dream of any of these players getting past that point.

Fowler and Beasley blew up the Combine with fabulous 40 yard dash times and excelled in their on-field drills.

They further cemented their status at their Pro Days as can’t miss picks.

Both have been linked recently to the Jacksonville Jaguars who own the 3rd pick in the draft with visits lined up for Fowler and Beasley. The only way the Saints will land either player is if the Saints make a move to trade up into the top 5 picks, which isn’t impossible but seems unlikely; though with Sean Payton — it shouldn’t be ruled out, either.

Nov 1, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Kentucky Wildcats running back Stanley Williams (18) is tackled by Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Ray has been mocked to the Saints on a few occasions but after he was unable to participate in the Combine and then had an underwhelming Pro Day I’m not too comfortable with him at #13.

Also after seeing many scouting reports, Ray seems to be a speedy rusher but not too great against the run which has been the Achilles Heel of the Saints for some time.

Plus I think some team between #1 and #12 just fall in love with him and will snatch him up before he gets to the Saints.

Gregory’s stocked slipped due to his announcement of a failed drug test at the Combine which could cause him to fall out of the Top 10 and even to the Saints.

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The stock for him was already a question mark since some scouts were questioning Gregory’s effectiveness to be an every down pass rusher at 235 lbs.

WWL Sports draft analyst Mike Detillier has gone as far as saying that Gregory, even with the question marks and failed drug test, may be in play for the Black and Gold if he does fall there at #13.

But with the new mantra head coach Sean Payton is stressing I just don’t really see Gregory being in the “cloud” of players the Saints have with that high of a pick.

A few players that Who Dat’s can start dreaming about though are becoming more and more familiar as the draft approaches.

Oct 11, 2014; Lexington, KY, USA; Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks offensive lineman Chase Regian (71) and Kentucky Wildcats defensive end Alvin Dupree (2) during the game at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky defeated Louisiana-Monroe 48-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports’s Saints beat writer Larry Holder has ridden his pick of Kentucky outside linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree for quite some time and has him as their 13th pick in his latest mock draft.

Dupree has grown on me in the past month after watching him and at his size(6’4″, 269 lbs.) and speed(4.56 40-yd dash) he’s just the monster the Saints could use.’s draft profile of Dupree calls him a “freakish athlete” and also says scouts assigned him a “plus grade for character” which is what the Saints are looking for.

Oh and if Saints fans need another reason to like him, his profile also compares him to former Southern Miss and current New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins.

Collins was a player coming into the 2013 NFL Draft that many including myself wanted to see wearing a Saints uniform but was snatched up by the Patriots in the second round.

Other pass rushers could exist for the Saints in the late first round such as Virginia linebacker Eli Harold and UCLA defensive lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa.

Big Easy Believer’s Editor Barry Hirstius recently wrote an article about the overlooked Harold and Odighizuwa actually is visiting with the Saints prior to the draft.

Of course as I mentioned with Harold and Odighizuwa, they are possible late first round talent and it’s the first pick the Saints have to get right at #13.

So while Saints fans can most likely put names like Fowler, Beasley, Ray, and Gregory to bed, there are many other quality pass rushers they will be able to rest easy with…..

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