The New Orleans Saints were banking on Kentucky’s Alvin “Bud” Dupree being there for the 13th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
It was almost a guarantee that the Saints would look to strike first and even second at #31 in the draft with defensive picks to help bring immediate contributors to the team.
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I waved off mock drafts that had the Saints taking an offensive lineman or wide receiver even with their second first round pick.
When news broke that Nebraska’s Randy Gregory failed his drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine, it shrunk the size of the pool some but not much.
It seemed that there were plenty of premium pass rushers to go around and Dupree appeared to still be a viable option.
Then late yesterday a report came that Missouri’s Shane Ray was cited for possession of marijuana after being pulled over while driving his vehicle.
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
Another development was that Ray failed a drug test while at Missouri according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.
And boy does this certainly change things for the Saints as well when it comes to snagging a quality pass rusher at #13.
I mentioned in a recent article that Dupree may be in the conversation for a Top 10 pick and even going to the Chicago Bears at #7 or the Atlanta Falcons at #8.
Big Easy Believer’s editor Barry Hirstius contemplated several options in his latest article which includes taking an offensive player at #13 or even trading up.
Barry has been high on Louisville receiver DeVante Parker for quite some time and he has been mentioned in mock drafts and by Nick Underhill of the Advocate as a possibility for the Saints at #13.
Nov 29, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver DeVante Parker (9) runs the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half at Papa John
Call it being stubborn but while the Saints could afford to add an offensive weapon after losing tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Kenny Stills, I just don’t know if that’s the right direction to go.
I was solely against trading up into the top picks of the draft just weeks ago simply due to the fact that Dupree was still in play for the Saints and there was no need to reach.
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Also the thing that worried me was that maneuvering past an NFC South rival like the Falcons at #8 would be too much for the Saints to give up as far as picks are concerned.
Trading up past the 8th overall pick, especially to a team that’s already wanting a player you’re needing, could involve even possibly giving up the Saints pick at #31.
But as Barry mentioned, a trade partner like the Bears or even the New York Jets at #6 would be a real possibility.
Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace speaks at a press conference during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
New Bears GM Ryan Pace, formerly with the Saints staff, likely wouldn’t want to scalp his former front office and would probably only ask for one of the Black and Gold’s two third round picks in exchange.
Pace may even go so far as to let the Saints mortgage next years first round pick .
The Jets are a different story and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them ask the Saints for their sole second round pick in a trade which would be just too expensive in my opinion.
Assuming the Saints are unable to find a trade partner with the top pass rushers being yanked off the board I think another offensive pick would be better.
Louisiana State University offensive lineman La’el Collins should still be on the board and be a player that would help solidify the protection around quarterback Drew Brees.
Collins has the ability to guard as well as tackle which brings a ton of versatility to a unit that has seen a number of injuries with little depth.
Guard Jahri Evans played through last season with a wrist injury that he had to have surgery on to repair a partially torn ligament, causing him to miss the Pro Bowl.
Dec 28, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans (73) blocks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
With Evans not getting any younger, Collins would be suitable to fill in for him in case he isn’t fully healed.
Eventually the Saints could move Collins out as a tackle to replace starting right tackle Zach Strief when the time comes.
After everything is said and done, my vote would be to trade up to take a pass rusher which the Saints desperately need.
They could afford to pick up a receiver later on Day 2 as well as an offensive lineman, with the latter being a position they’ve hit on in the past.
An offensive pick at #13 considering they’re in need of immediate impact on defense would be, well, just too “offensive” in this draft…