The New Orleans Saints have had a whirlwind of an offseason. There have been big signings, emotional trades, and heart wrenching cuts. Mickey Loomis has been a wizard navigating the salary cap to put the Saints in position for another Super Bowl run. And with the draft just a month away, he has a chance to really round out this roster.
Because of Loomis’ extreme zealousness in the free agency period, the Saints are in a unique position. In round one, the Saints are not handcuffed by any glaring needs. The signings of Jairus Byrd and Champ Bailey, as well as the resigning of Rafael Bush, ensure the secondary is in good shape, which was a possible need before the offseason. The resigning of Zach Strief erased a glaring need at tackle. In addition, the return of Victor Butler adds depth the linebacker core which was lacking towards the end of the season.
With this being the case, why would the Saints entertain the thought of moving up in the draft? Loomis’ aggressiveness during free agency has set the tone for the Saints for the immediate future; win now. So it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the mastermind continued being his tenacious approach to the offseason through the draft. Loomis, with the win now mentality, will be looking for prospects in the draft that can immediately help this team. He won’t have the patience to have his first round picks relaxing on the sidelines for a couple of years.
Now with the Saints filling most of their needs in free agency, they don’t have any truly flagrant shortcomings at any position. However, what Loomis will want to do is draft a player that can vastly improve a position group. The two positions that come to mind are inside linebacker and wide receiver. Both units are solid, but at the end of the day, a bit average. An injection of first round talent would do wonders to either position, which may call for trading up.
With Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne manning the middle, the Saints have two solid, but not dynamic players. What they need is an athletic, young man who can go sideline to sideline. The answer to that is CJ Mosley, out of the Alabama. Though some mock draft have the best inside linebacker in the draft falling to the Saints, most of them have him going in the early 20s and some as high as 15. If the Saints fall in love with him, they could very well trade up 5-7 spots to ensure he is a Saint. Mosley would bring an injection of talent and would allow the Saints to have bona fide playmaker at every level and position group of the defense.
The other position in need of an upgrade, oddly enough, comes on offense. The wide receiver position, unlike years past, stands as the Saints greatest need. With Marques Colston getting older, and the rest of the receiving core being inexperienced, the Saints are in desperate need for a number one wide receiver to complement All World tight end Jimmy Graham.
Though the depth of the wide receiver in this is draft is outstanding, the Saints may still trade up to grab one of those potential number one wide receivers. With Sean Payton being an offensive mind, he will be selective about which pass catcher will fill the number one receiver role. Though it is unlikely the Saints trade up into the top ten to grab Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, they can still trade up about 10 spots to grab an extremely talented prospect.
Two receivers that fit the bill are the last two Biletnikoff award winners, Marquise Lee and Brandin Cooks. Before the combine and workouts, it looked like one of these players was going to fall to the Saints. However, after further analysis, Cooks has seen his stock rising and may be out of the reach of the Saints’ current draft position.
Lee is the different story. After his stellar sophomore season, Lee was primed to be a top 10 pick. But after injuries and a disappointing junior season, his stock is falling. This plummet may allow the Saints to get a major bargain.
Both would be great fits as the number one option in the receiving core. Lee can run all the routes and has a nose for the end zone and great run after catch ability. Cooks also can run all the routes, and has world class track speed that can take the top off of any defense. Either one would be worth trading up ten spots for.
These are not the only scenarios. It would be exciting to delve into all the possibilities, but it is impossible to predict what will actually happen. One thing is for sure, Loomis has shown that if there is a player out there that can take the Saints to the next level, he is going to do what it takes. Because one thing is certain, the Saints are all in right now.