We have completed our Saints roster position analysis for free agency and draft below. As the Saints look to the future to augment and fill roster positions, we hope our roster analysis puts some perspective around free agency and the draft dynamics. Presently, the Saints have some unrestricted and restricted free agents on the roster (designated in green and blue). If the Saints re-sign these players, it will affect what positions they will target in free agency and the draft. There are numerous ways to fill the roster, and familiarity with the scheme for a good player would make the player a desired re-signing. Starting from there, we believe the Saints will target maximum value (not high priced) players in free agency. Innumerable players can be added in free agency whereas the draft limits the team to only seven players–many of whom will not necessarily play their first year.
We broke down the Saints roster depth chart below and made a determination as to whether the Saints are set at the position, have a “need” at the position designated as “FA/Draft” or whether there is a “want” at the position designated as “Depth FA/Draft.” As you can see, many dominoes need to fall as the Saints move from each stage in the NFL calendar. The NFL Combine may affect what they are thinking when they look at free agency, signing their own players will affect what positions they will fill in free agency, and free agency affects the draft if a position has been filled by a quality player. Quality free agency player additions allow the Saints more latitude in the draft to find star players in each round.
We did not try to determine the number of players available in free agency for any one position. There are so many players in free agency, some of whom are elite, some older, and some have good grades with limited snaps, so it is hard to gauge a cut off point similar to a round grade in the draft. Therefore, we are linking our sortable, ranked free agency database for your reference in looking at free agency players. Believe me, in early March free agency fever will develop, and you will be glad for the database. As for the draft, we numbered the of picks by round stopping at round 5 for brevity of analysis. During the draft, we will update rounds 6 through 7.
One more note, we put positions next to one another. The Saints may draft only one in these positions but we put them together to more easily analyze.
Saints Roster Position Analysis for Free Agency and Draft
Guards: Think the Saints will re-sign Tim Lelito and provide some competition through free agency. May fill both guard positions through free agency which makes sense given the magnitude of the position for the Saints. If they do draft, they will have to draft high as there is thin quality in this draft class for guards in the first five rounds. Given the defensive needs, it is likely the Saints will draft defensive players high in the draft.
Tackles: Will add depth through free agency or undrafted free agents. Senior Kelemente (if re-signed) provides some depth in all offensive line positions.
Wide receivers: Will add depth through draft.
Tight ends: Will likely retain Josh Hill and may add another tight end through free agency if they do not re-sign Benjamin Watson or Michael Hoomanawanui.
Running backs: Will likely retain Khiry Robinson and re-sign either Tim Hightower or Travaris Cadet. If neither of these are re-signed, we believe they will look to free agency or undrafted free agents to add depth.
Defensive tackle: Will draft a defensive tackle. There is a lot of value around round 1, so they could wait to round 2 and beyond where quality players are still likely to be there.
Defensive ends: Will draft a defensive end to shore up the left side. Again, there is high value around the first round, so they can wait a bit for a defensive end but not too long.
Linebackers: Will draft two linebackers. Quality linebackers are thin in the first five rounds, so the team is likely to go earlier for this position rather than later.
Cornerbacks: Will draft a cornerback. Some quality around the earlier rounds, and they will want to go early for this position.
Safeties: If Rafael Bush is not re-signed, the team will look at add depth through free agency.
Kicker: Everyone wants to find the kicker of the future but don’t think this is the year. There is only one good kicker in the draft, and he is in round 2. Just don’t think the Saints pull the trigger on drafting a kicker this year though they could opt for a free agency signing.
Positions we expect the Saints to draft and in this order based upon quality players available in each round: Inside Linebacker, Outside Linebacker, Cornerback, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, Wide Receiver Free Agency Database Click Here
Give us your thoughts.