New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update
New Orleans Saints
The NFL draft is fast approaching and less than 1 week away and the excitement is building. The New Orleans Saints had a respectable season in the 2010 – 2011 campaign but are looking to improve and get back to the Super Bowl. So what is the plan to accomplish a Super Bowl run and place the New Orleans Saints in the discussions of the NFL’s dynasty teams?
The New Orleans Saints were upset in the wild card round of the NFL Playoffs at the end of the season. There were several weaknesses that were evident during the game against the Seahawks. These are some of the things that will need to be addressed in the 2011 NFL draft.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft April Update Summary
When you look at the offensive side of the ball the New Orleans Saints are a very talented team. Drew Brees can make any team look good. Still there are some weaknesses, depth at running back, fullback and offensive line that came to light with injuries during last year’s season.
On the defensive side of the ball the New Orleans Saints did not live up to their Super Bowl standards. The way the Seattle Seahawks were able to run against the New Orleans Saints was just a continuation of what teams could have done almost all season. The area of linebackers and defensive line is lacking.
Still the New Orleans Saints have a very strong core of experienced players and with a few tweaks could challenge for the title again in the 2011 – 2012 season.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Offensive Line
The New Orleans Saints probably would have been better off had they been able to pick up a free agent or two in free agency. Still right now that option is up in the air. Still if the New Orleans Saints are able to pick up a player in the draft that has the ability to play multiple positions that could be an option. Players like Gabe Carimi, Nate Solder and Derek Sherrod are possibilities, if they are the best available at the 24th slot or in later spots if the New Orleans Saints pick for a different position at 24. The more likely scenario is for the New Orleans Saints to bring their entire line back and draft for depth in the later rounds. Finding a long snapper is something that is necessary and could be taken care of with this pick. Jason Kyle will probably be allowed to move on. This is a position that is often overlooked but can be a game changer. As Drew Brees ages, making sure the offensive line is able to provide the protection needed becomes more important.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Defensive Line
The defensive line was an area of weakness in 2010. There are some talented players on the defensive line but age is a factor for some. Defensive ends Will Smith and Alex Brown have both been solid players. Brown lacks pass rushing ability and as a result he could be replaced. Sedrick Ellis is the solid anchor on the inside of the defensive line, and Remi Ayodele played pretty decent in 2010.
The New Orleans Saints added a big body to the defensive line with the addition of Shaun Rogers. Rogers is coming off his worst statistical year during his career. Still he is a big body and alongside the athletic Sedrick Ellis. Ellis is considered by most experts to be one of the most underrated defensive tackles in the NFL. Ellis is locked in at the number one spot in the interior of the D line. So in the short term the interior of the line could be ok. Names like Phil Taylor and Muhammad Wilkerson have been mentioned if the New Orleans Saints to the route of an early draft pick. There is a bigger question however, at the defensive end position.
The New Orleans Saints could use the 24th pick to get an elite pass rusher who overtime could develop into and every down player. Some names that have been tossed around are Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State; Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa; Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri; Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Linebackers
The linebacker corps was once the strength of the New Orleans Saints defense. That group took a step backwards when Scott Fujita left the team after the 2009 season. Scott Shanle did and adequate job while Danny Clark is not a starter. This means the New Orleans Saints need to upgrade to replace Fujita even if both Shanle and Clark return which is not likely.
In the middle, Jonathan Vilma is still the man. Vilma is a more than reliable playmaker who would be hard to replace. The more likely approach would be to draft or find at least one free agent who could be a starter and then grab more depth at the linebacker spot.
Here are some names who have been brought up as possibilities. The ones that are inside linebackers show promise on the outside. Possible draft choices: Nate Irving, ILB North Carolina State; Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon; Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA; Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Fullback
The New Orleans Style of play requires a true fullback. When the New Orleans Saints released Mike Karney and then picked up Heath Evans many fans were left wondering what the reasoning was. Evans to this point has not produced as expected and the New Orleans Saints have used tight end Dave Thomas in many running situations. The New Orleans Saints could look to improve at this position in the draft. The New Orleans Saints can wait until after the draft to make a decision on Evans. Here are some possible draft choices: Stanley Havili, FB, USC. Really Havili is the best choice otherwise they should resign Evans.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Safety
It is not likely that the New Orleans Saints are going to retain both Roman Harper and Darren Sharper so the New Orleans Saints are going to need to look at adding both depth and talent to the safety position. Jenkins has done a great job and is maturing into the position. Short term the New Orleans Saints need depth and long term a side kick for Jenkins.
Two names jump out at this position, DeAndre McDaniel and UCLA S Rahim Moore.
DeAndre McDaniel would be the best fit but Moore could be a development project. They are both going to be second round picks.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Running Back
The New Orleans Saints are set at running back if certain things happen. First, Pierre Thomas comes back and is healthy. Second, Reggie Bush renegotiates his contract to an acceptable level. Reggie creates some mismatches that are hard for defenses to adjust to but right now he is too expensive. Third, Chris Ivory comes back at 100%. Chris Ivory had a great season but is coming off of foot surgery. If the New Orleans Saints have all three of these players back then they are fine at running back unless a gem falls in their lap. If not then they will have to adjust based on the missing pieces.
Some possible running back choices for the New Orleans Saints could be John Clay of Wisconsin, Charles Clay of Tulsa a multiple position player, and Alex Green of Hawaii have all been mentioned.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Cornerback
The cornerback position for the New Orleans Saints was one that was plagued with injuries. Still having said that are still in pretty good position. It is likely that Randall Gay will retire and Malcolm Jenkins will continue to play safety. So who does that leave as starters? Both Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter are able to do a good job as starters and Patrick Robinson is showing lots of promise. So this means that if the New Orleans Saints have another impact player they may make a move early but more than likely they will pick a player in the late rounds if at all or wait for free agency. Possible names mentioned at this position are Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Tight End
Jeremy Shockey has departed from the New Orleans Saints and so now they are down to two tight ends and Dave Thomas. Jimmy Graham is the most likely choice for the starting tight end position. Thomas is a very good backup who could start of many teams. Still the New Orleans Saints will probably pickup a third player via the draft or free agency. USC tight end Jordan Cameron has been named as a possibility.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Wide Receiver
The strongest part of the New Orleans Saints team is probably the wide receiver position. This has a lot to do with the talent and the quarterback. Marques Colston is the undisputed number one wide receiver but the way Drew Brees distributes the ball, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, and Lance Moore could all be number one. This is a position where it would really take an unbelievable talent to fall into the New Orleans Saints lap for them to spend a pick on a wide receiver.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Kicker / Punter
Really no need at this point because Punter – Thomas Morstead and Kicker – Garrett Hartley are in place.
New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update: Quarterback
When the New Orleans Saints are on offense, Drew Brees is the unquestionable leader of the team. Drew Brees runs the offense like a well oiled machine. Still if the New Orleans Saints are going to continue their winning ways they have to begin training a replacement. Chase Daniel is the current backup for the New Orleans Saints. The New Orleans Saints should consider drafting someone to push Daniel to develop.
Chase Daniel was going to be the backup to Brees next season, but I think the Saints could draft a quarterback at some point to compete with Daniel for the backup position or elevate Sean Canfield to do so. Some possible choices are Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware; Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama; Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada.
That is our rundown of the New Orleans Saints 2011 Draft Update. We will be back after draft to review how the picks affect the New Orleans Saints going forward.