New Orleans Saints Draft Review
Team Needs: DL CB OLB
Rd 1. 12 Sheldon Rankins DT Louisville
Rd 2. 47 Michael Thomas WR Ohio State
Rd 2. 61 Vonn Bell S Ohio State
Rd 4. 120 David Onyemata DT Manitoba
Rd 7. 237 Daniel Lasco RB Cal
The Saints, coming off of a disappointing 2015, had a ton of needs and a number of roster spots to fill. Conventional wisdom suggested that the team would likely trade down, multiple times, and try to add 3-4 extra selections. Sean Payton, however, had other plans. With the 12th overall selection the Saints took Sheldon Rankins. Being the first defensive tackle taken in a draft considered deep at defensive tackle was not unexpected as Rankins has everything scouts are looking for, especially a motor. Rankins plays low to the ground, gets penetration, and never seems to let up. He should be a star in New Orleans. Michael Thomas was a great pick for this team as well. Thomas could be the heir apparent to Marques Colston, which the Saints sorely need. Thomas isn’t a burner, and his tape needs some cleaning up, but neither ws Colston in either case. What Thomas does best is run his routes consistently which should be enough to engender him to Drew Brees. The real shocker for this draft came when the Saints traded up with the Patriots to select Vonn Bell. Safety has been a sore spot for the Saints in recent years and Bell should, along with Kenny Vaccaro, give the team some competition at the position. David Onyemata is a purely developmental player from Canada who is fairly new to the game of football. He established a reputation for nastiness and physical play during the run up to the draft, though, which no doubt helped him get noticed by NFL teams. Given some time to mature and learn the game Onyemata could start alongside Rankins. Finally the Saints took Daniel Lasco from Cal. Lasco has some unique skills and will likely have a chance to show several of them in camp to see if he deserves a roster spot. More than likely he’ll get a year on the team’s practice squad.
Few teams did more with their first three selections than the Saints, who likely drafted three starters from day 1. Giving up the third and fourth round picks in order to get Bell was risky, but there was no better player available on whom to take that risk. Bell might not start as a rookie but he will be given every chance to prove himself worthy of winning the job sooner rather than later.
All teams are becoming more willing these days to take developmental players that are new to football. As teams put more emphasis on measurables like hand size and length this is a trend that is likely to continue.
The Saints are right up against the cap and only had 5 draft picks. They signed some interesting undrafted free agents and will have heavy competition at cornerback, linebacker, wide receiver and along the offensive line (where they signed 6 undrafted free agents.) Given their cap situation one would expect 8-10 of those rookies to make the team. In fact the Saints depth chart lists a number of players that went undrafted in 2015 in key positions. A few best bets, of these players, to make the roster are OT Avery Young, LB Dillon Harper, DE DJ Pettaway, OG Landon Turner, and WR Jordan Williams.