This time of year everyone has on opinion on the Draft so here’s my two cents. Predicting its outcome can’t be an exact science – too many variables and too little info to go with for the “expert” not to say the average guy. So one can only make an educated guess on where a team could be going based on free agency so far, perceived remaining “needs” and interest shown in players.
To debunk a common myth out there – player’s visits are far from being a smoking gun on the team intentions. They can be done for a normal due diligence, to create a smoke screen or for a genuine interest in a player. If we go by numbers, only a very small number who visit get the call – either because the interest is not there or because the simple law of numbers and the dynamic of the draft make that pick impossible. Last year only Vaccaro was selected in a pool of 37 visits. The team interviewed Lane Johnson but I am quite sure they didn’t foresee the player to slide and less so trade up to grab him at #2…
This year the team has been meeting in various forms a similar number of players, the most noticeable group were five/six CB on the same day last week, some of whom are called to be drafted within the top half of the first round. Does that mean the team will draft a CB with their first round? By any means no. Rather than trying to infer the team intentions from whom they have met I think it is much more revealing understanding the process on how they work. In this regard it is quite telling what Payton had to say of the process during the Combine – I strongly encourage everyone to read the interview linked below. He even singled out a certain (unknown) WR they interviewed at the time, which might or might not mean anything, but I think it is at least noteworthy coming from the Coach. I am sure this guy is not called to go in the first round… so no need to deceive anyone there.
Anyway – according the Best Player Available theory a CB could still be selected if a highly rated player is there when the team is called to pick at #27. Why? Because the team has been moving that way in the past. But is that really so? We could argue that a perceived need would still trump this BPA “law” unless the team is shaped so not to have any needs at all, and Payton seems to suggest they do have some leeway in drafting players if grades are not too dissimilar. So under this scenario a 10th CB on the roster, after signing one the best safety in the game and a future HoF, would still trump selecting a WR… or a C… or some beef for a shaky run D… or a pass rusher (of whom one cant have too many) – all of which to various degrees are generally perceived either as “needs” or as positions that could do with an improvement. Some are even on record that we should trade up to get a corner… So let me be on record that I don’t think the first pick will be Secondary..
And this takes us to reading the tea-leaves. It is common consensus that this draft is very “deep” – the dropdown between players ranked say from #10 to #50/60 is not judged to be very significant. So a team without crippling needs could in theory find very profitable to stockpile picks to draft players in that pool if it had the chance of trading down. Unlike other drafts, where it seems everyone wants to trade down, this time around the Saints could have their wishes come true.
It has been widely reported that the QB class has been sliding through the first round – some mocks are calling just one QB (Menziel) to be drafted before the Saints are on the clock in round one. QB needy teams, on the back of franchises overpaying for underperforming signal callers in the recent past are now expected, according to the “experts”, to build a team and plug a QB in it, and maybe get lucky to find the right guy the way Seattle and San Francisco did, rather than building a team around a guy who has not played a single down in the league. For this reason the consensus is that up to three/four of these QB needy teams could be interested in trading back in to grab guys with high grades who either might have been falling, or with second round grades on the rise – Bridgewater, Bortles, Carr, Garoppolo and probably others… to different extent could all get called at the end of round one.
This could shape out like the perfect storm for the Saints – a team willing to get back in should in all likehood fork its 2nd and 3rd round pick for that #27. The Saints could very realistically have two second rounds and two third rounds to play with, or even three second rounds (by packaging the two thirds) to pick into that deep pool of talent. My personal choice would be, in no particular order, WR, C and a run stopper. Or whatever talent for a position that could do with an upgrade is there – I am sure you draft nuts could easily fill in the names.
So which of these there scenarios is the most appealing:
– A 1st and a 3rd (by trading up and likely forfeiting the 2nd)
– All the first three picks (by staying put)
– Two 2nd and two 3rd (or even three 2nd) by trading down?
To me it seems a pretty easy call…