Saints Fans Don’t Want a ‘Re – Peat’ of Last Year’s Draft


Mock drafts for the Saints and the rest of the 32 NFL teams, along with the opinions of analysts and fans alike; are officially in full swing since free agency has died down; and with some teams having fulfilled their “draft needs” in free agency, draft boards are now changing up a bit.

The New Orleans Saints were not active in free agency as in years past, due to salary cap constraints that were compounded a bit by the ongoing Drew Brees extension talks; which then in turn led to some contract restructures with players such as defensive end Cameron Jordan and running back Mark Ingram, most recently.

They were able to sign some “bargain players” such as linebacker James Laurinaitis and defensive tackle Nick Fairley, to help provide veteran experience and depth to their respective positions.

In total, the signings the Saints have managed to pull off in free agency have unquestionably allowed them to be set up for a potential “best player available” (or BPA as it’s also known) pick when their 12th overall selection rolls around for the 2016 NFL Draft later this month.

Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Andrus Peat (Stanford) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number 13th overall pick to the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately this doesn’t always lead to fans thinking it was the best player available — as was the case last year when the Saints selected offensive lineman Andrus Peat with their first round pick at #13.

It’s safe to say that most Saints fans don’t want a “re-Peat” of last year’s Draft.

You got the sense in the post first round press conference that while the selection of Peat may have been a head scratcher to the layman, he was next up in the Saints cloud of BPA’s once they lost out on defensive tackle Danny Shelton who went to the Cleveland Browns with the pick right before them.

The same scenario could unfold for them this year as they are in the range of being able to land a player that could help them not just immediately, but for the long-term as well.

As Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate recently stated in a podcast he operates with friend Adam West, it’s not just about now, but what will the player do for the team five years into the future as well — or as most put it, “upside”.

We Already Have Plenty Of Corners

I’m going to go ahead and start here since this has been a hot-button issue for some fans on both sides of the argument with some saying the Saints are fine at cornerback, while others insist that it needs some more additional talent.

On the first note, the Saints do have players like veteran Keenan Lewis and Delvin Breaux; who are the likely guaranteed starters barring an injury as of right now — with the likes of Kyle Wilson or Damian Swann who can man the slot or be tasked with handling the left or right spots, if needed.

The Saints also have what could be a draft “steal” in P.J. Williams; who once was considered a first round prospect from Florida State in 2015, but due to a DUI arrest just weeks before the draft, they were able to grab him in the 3rd round.

May 28, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (36) during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We have yet to see Williams perform though due to a nagging injury he received during training camp, that caused him to be placed on injured reserve before the season even started — which leads to the other side of the argument.

A lot of “hopes” and “if’s” play into the cornerback spot heading into 2016; with hopes being that Williams can be what the staff envisioned him to be, and if others like Lewis and Swann can actually STAY healthy for the season.

While Lewis has jokingly garnered the name “Chicken Legs” from Saints fans due to his spindly shanks, it’s no joke that the veteran corner has suffered some gruesome injuries to his knee, as well as a leg injury that got him placed on injured reserve late in the season last year.

With Swann he had a bad run with concussions last year due to his violent, aggressive style of play but we know now that teams and players have a different outlook on head injuries and if he continues having issues then it won’t bode well for the second year promising corner.

I can understand the disdain for selecting a cornerback with the Saints sole first round pick, but if it truly is the best player available then they have to trust their board or ‘cloud’ of players.

Defensive tackle and defensive end has been a popular selection in mock drafts so far for New Orleans, and I don’t say I disagree; due to the lack of pass rush that was one contributing factor to cornerback Brandon Browner being released after only one year with the team.

But with the depth especially at defensive tackle being fairly deep in this year’s draft, the Saints could grab one in the second round conceivably.

Jan 3, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (1) makes a game saving interception against the East Carolina Pirates during the second half for the 2015 Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field. The Florida Gators defeated the East Carolina Pirates 28-20. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Pavek of, who also mans their podcast along with Patrick O’Really, had a quite comical F-bombing tirade several weeks ago when asked if the Saints should select a cornerback in the first round and I’ll take full responsibility; since I had asked the same if a player like former Florida Gators Vernon Hargreaves fell to the Saints prior to that.

As far as pure cornerbacks in the draft go, Hargreaves is considered the number one prospect at that position, with Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander fighting for a close second.

More from Editorials

The Saints, by the way; have met with Alexander along with other Clemson players at a private dinner while there for their Pro Day, so he might be in play as well along with someone like Hargreaves.

While the Saints haven’t taken a visit with Hargreaves, we all know that doesn’t add up to anything when it comes to selecting players as some of their draft picks have expressed surprise when the 504 area code has shown up on their phones on draft day.

I get the knocks on Hargreaves due to his size (only 5’10 but 204 pounds) and that he may not have elite speed (we now scoff at corners who can’t run a 4.4 flat), but scouts praise his instincts and competitiveness that have drawn comparisons to Browns starting corner Joe Haden.

And whether it’s him, Alexander, or another cornerback; I’d be okay with having a member of the secondary that can slide into the role for the future.

Hello Again, Robert Meachem

When the Saints selected Robert Meachem in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft you had to admit that the word surprising could have been an understatement.

While Meachem did his part in helping the Saints to win a championship, the direction they went in at the time was a bit head-scratching; with a few analysts picking Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen if they were to go offense.

The Saints could decide that the best player available is one that is as heavily debated as the aforementioned cornerback position, and that is wide receiver at #12.

Like cornerback, the Saints do have quite amount of bodies at the position but quality and quantity is the key here.

Dec 27, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) gestures after a catch in the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With the departure of Marques Colston this offseason, the first question asked was how would the Saints replace the leadership and production from the favored “number one” receiver that up until a a few years ago, was the definition of clutch for the receiving corps.

I put “number one” as a bit tongue and cheek, considering the Saints never truly have had a “go to” numero uno — since they game-plan accordingly and hence ruin the days of many fantasy footballers, which if you’ve drafted a Saints wide receiver. you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Currently, Brandin Cooks has assumed the role of the veteran on the current roster, and behind him sit Wille Snead and Brandon Coleman on the depth chart accordingly; with others like Kyle Prater, Shane Wynn, and R.J. Harris hoping to make it past training camp.

The questions many are asking about the receiving group are legitimate concerns such as:

  • Can Cooks take on the role as the “primary” receiver(notice I didn’t mention his size)?
  • Can Snead replicate his production from the 2015 season and take on a bigger role?
  • Can the lightbulb ever kick on for Coleman to turn his 6’6, 225 pound frame into a consistent physical threat, especially in the end zone?

Now me personally I’ll concede that I havent’ been aboard the “drafting a wide receiver in the first round” train for 2016, but that doesn’t mean I have recently considered buying a ticket either.

Jan 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (1) is tackled by Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Kevin Peterson (1) during the first half in the 2016 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports’s Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks have selected former Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell in both their recent mock drafts for the Saints, which has been met with some resistance for defense happy draft nerds for the Black and Gold.

It hasn’t helped that Treadwell (6’2, 221 pounds) compares physically to someone already on the roster like Coleman and isn’t known for having blazing speed, but you can’t argue with his tape from college or comparisons to Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant’s skill set.

There are other receivers gaining some ground in Round 1 conversation, like former TCU receiver Josh Doctson or former Ohio State’s Michael Thomas; who the Saints visited with during OSU’s Pro Day, and like Treadwell both these receivers are skillful and big-bodied but aren’t known for flashy speed.

Next: 5 Saints With Something to Prove in 2016

While they could be considered a reach for the Saints at #12, it’s all about what potential and ‘fit’ they feel will benefit them on not just draft day, but beyond.

True, the Saints have never had a definitive primary receiver like other NFL teams, but what they have had in the past that has been missing recently is a true core group that easily plays and feeds off each other; that has allowed Drew Brees ample targets in past seasons.

For that reason, while wide receiver may not be the top of our list as best player available, it certainly could be for someone like Sean Payton or Jeff Ireland.

These are just a few of the opinions on what the Saints should or shouldn’t do or who they should or shouldn’t take in the upcoming draft and I see the validity in all sides.

But when has outside logic EVER really equalled up to the Saints brain trust’s logic, when it comes to draft time anyway???