It’s 2017. It’s been a bouncy seven years for the Saints since the championship win in 2010. We went from being the best, to being average, to being good again, back to being average, and then all the way down to being the worst. We’ve had a track record of a subpar defense, but a quarterback who’s consistently ranked with the best of the best. Being a New Orleans Saints fan isn’t the easiest thing, but the roller coaster of wins and losses means we can never really be called bandwagon fans. This year, the Saints stepped up their draft game. They addressed all of their needs, and then some. Here, I’ll be grading the first few rounds of the Saints draft, when their biggest picks were made.
Round 1, Pick 11: Marshon Lattimore, Cornerback, Ohio State
Lattimore was plagued by hamstring injuries during his first couple years at Ohio State, so much so in fact, that he missed his entire freshman year. While this lack of experience may be alarming, it should be known that Lattimore has been easily considered one of the best cornerbacks that came into the draft (and out of the draft, for that matter). Where have the Saints been consistently ranked in the bottom for the past few years? Defense. Specifically, the secondary. According to a myriad of scouting sources, Lattimore is explosive and has an uncanny ability to stick to receivers like glue. He may be just what the Saints need to keep Drew and a potentially explosive offense on the field as much as possible.
Round 1, Pick 32: Ryan Ramcyzk, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
While Drew Brees hasn’t shown any signs of stopping, most can agree that he’s reaching his end within the next couple years. However, while the Saints still have him at their disposal, protecting him should be their top priority. While Ramcyzk is another injury riddled pick (arthroscopic surgery just before the combine), he’s recovered in time for the Saints to see him as a glowing opportunity. At 6’6” and 310 pounds, Ramcyzk can stand up to even the toughest of rushers, not to mention his remarkable agility for someone of his size. An addition like him could be a matter of essential pocket time for Brees, and time to find holes for Ingram and Peterson.
Round 2, Pick 42: Marcus Williams, Safety, Utah
Back in 2013, the Saints added hard-hitting safety Kenny Vaccaro from the University of Texas. After another year of abysmal secondary defense, they’ve added Marcus Williams, a ball-hawking, turnover forcing safety out of Utah. They complement each other perfectly. The Saints are atrocious when it comes to pass defense, and Williams posted 10 interceptions over the past two seasons. The first two draft rounds have proven to be a perfect time for the Saints to beef up their secondary.
Round 3, Pick 67: Alvin Kamara, Running Back, Tennessee
I’m not really sure of the legitimacy or usefulness of this pick, considering the fact that the Saints are already fairly deep at running back, especially since they just signed Adrian Peterson to a two-year deal. Kamara’s stats shouldn’t be overlooked (1,294 rushing yards and 683 receiving yards in two seasons), so the pick itself isn’t a bad one. Adding even more depth to Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson in the backfield isn’t a bad idea, but continuing to spruce up their defense might have been a more viable option that this.
Round 3, Pick 76: Alex Anzalone, Linebacker, Florida
Anzalone isn’t really anything special. He’s a big guy with the ability to move quickly, which in today’s NFL, isn’t very hard to come by. While he’s a great pick to bolster the Saints’ defense, he had no interceptions or forced fumbles during his time at Florida. Anzalone isn’t a big playmaker, but he makes a solid pick to add to a crumbling Saints defense.
Round 3, Pick 103: Trey Hendrickson, Defensive End, Florida Atlantic
An edge rusher, Hendrickson racked up an impressive 30 sacks throughout his time at Florida Atlantic. Not to mention, he won Conference USA defensive player of the year. And I can keep going. Hendrickson racked up four blocked kicks and six fumbles during his last two years at Florida Atlantic. Hendrickson is an exceptional choice by the Saints, and paired with Cameron Jordan, should make for a Saints defense that’s, for the first time in a while, fun to watch.