Every year, the entire NFL community converges on one theater, in one city, to draft the next NFL superstars. This year’s draft will be held April 27-29, and the New Orleans Saints have the 11th pick. With that pick last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Vernon Hargreaves III, a cornerback out of the University of Florida. Last year, the Saints picked 12th and selected Louisville Defensive Tackle, Sheldon Rankins.
To predict who will be picked, you have to look at team needs. You can’t tell what the team needs will be for the draft until after the free-agency period (where teams can sign players who are not under contract with any team) is over. As it stands now, the Saints are in need of a defensive end, an offensive guard, a middle linebacker and a cornerback. My guess for the Saints is that they sign a defensive end in free-agency, but pick a guard, middle linebacker and cornerback in the draft.
With the 11th pick, the Saints can go many different ways, but the best way to go is with Reuben Foster, a middle linebacker from the University of Alabama. LSU fans may or may not like hearing this after four years of cheering against Foster, but, in the transition between college and NFL, you have to put your college differences aside. Foster had a fantastic senior season at Alabama, totaling 115 tackles and 5.0 sacks. Drafting Foster would definitely help the Saints in the long run, and maybe even in his rookie season.
Another player that the Saints could pick is Teez Tabor (yep, you read that right) from the University of Florida. Tabor is a cornerback, and in some cases the best one on the board at the time the Saints pick. The Saints have been in need of a cornerback ever since the days of Jabari Greer, who retired in 2013. If you look at the Saints success since then, they haven’t had a winning season. You could make an argument that the loss of Greer is when the Saints declined.
Probably, the Saints biggest need is a defensive end to support Cameron Jordan. I could see multiple options here, however, General Manager Mickey Loomis has $25 million to spend this year in free-agency in a rich defensive end free agent class. In free-agency, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints make a push to sign Jason Pierre-Paul, formerly of the New York Giants. Pierre-Paul has expressed publicly that he wants a long term deal, and the Saints would be a perfect landing spot for him. In the draft, however, Solomon Thomas from Stanford University is a very intriguing option. Thomas amassed 61 total tackles, 8 sacks and 1 forced fumble.
Whatever the Saints decide to do, many are hoping it doesn’t force the Saints to let go of any of this year’s stars.