The New Orleans Saints‘ run to the NFC divisional playoffs was surprising to some, but given the talent on their roster, maybe it shouldn’t have been. It’s been more about the Saints staying healthy than anything else, which they finally did (to an extent) in 2017.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t needs however. Linebacker has been a weakness for years, and the secondary could still use some bolstering. Another pass rusher could be a top priority as well, and perhaps a wide receiver to complement Michael Thomas.
Round 1, pick 27: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The combine might eliminate any chance the Saints have of landing Evans, but for now they hope some slight groin injury concerns and a lack of man coverage reps on tape will push Evans down the board. I’m grasping — I know — but Evans consistently shows up in this range of mock drafts, and it might be possible they can score him at No. 27. He’s a game-changing second-level defender who would pair with Alex Anzalone to give the Saints their linebackers of the future.
Round 3, pick 91: Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley both helped the Saints’ defense in coverage and against the run/short passing game last year. Averett is made in the same mold and toughness as those two. He is aggressive, and while he doesn’t have great ball skills, he is athletic enough to match receivers in man coverage on the outside or in the slot.
Round 4, pick 129: DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
Hamilton was a lock to be selected as a Day 3 player until a strong Senior Bowl put him on teams’ radars. He is an advanced route runner with the ability to separate at all three levels of the field, but he’s hit-or-miss in contested catch spots and drops too many passes. The Saints will live with all of that for his ability to step into the slot with a polished route tree.
Round 5, pick 149: Trayvon Henderson, S, Hawaii
Henderson showed in Mobile that he can match up with some tight ends and eliminate them in the passing game, and he is a sure tackler around the box. His size and physicality make him a possible projection to replace Kenny Vaccaro in the Saints’ defensive scheme.
Round 5, pick 166: Kentavius Street, DE, North Carolina State
A long defensive end with intriguing first-step quickness, Street is raw and unpolished as a pass rusher, but he’ll have time to develop behind Cam Jordan, Alex Okafor (if re-signed) and Trey Hendrickson.
Round 6, pick 192: Folorunso Fatukasi, DT, UCONN
Fatukasi is a stout run defender with a huge frame, but his pass rush flashes represent the truly intriguing part of his skill set. His stock might rise over the next couple months, taking him out of consideration in the sixth round.
Round 6, pick 204: Quadree Henderson, WR, Pittsburgh
Henderson is a speedy deep threat who is super raw as a wide receiver, but a very dangerous return man. The Saints love having speed on their team, and Ted Ginn is aging and could see his return duties diminish this season.
Round 7, pick 245: Chase Litton, QB, Marshall
Litton has a live arm and has made some wow throws, but ample development is needed. The Saints will keep taking Day 3 fliers on quarterbacks until the need to replace Drew Brees becomes more dire.