(PHILADELPHIA, Pa.) — The eyes of the NFL world converged on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum on Thursday, April 27, as the NFL draft commenced. The draft continued on to Friday, and then through Saturday evening. The New Orleans Saints had seven selections in this year’s draft, picking players from Ohio State, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Miami, Florida, Florida Atlantic and Utah. The Saints’ participation in the draft was a success, which is evident if you know much about the players selected. If you don’t, this article will break it all down for you.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St. 11th overall
Lattimore has the best ball skills in the draft, and rarely ever gets called for pass interference. He is an uber athlete, and plays with an explosive hip-flip when he is forced to turn and run. If you watch his film, you will be enlightened on how to play cornerback. It’s almost like he knows the route the receiver will run before he runs it. The only downside to Lattimore is his only one year of starting experience. He also has been fighting a hamstring injury for about two seasons. Other than that, Lattimore is said to be the second coming of Darrelle Revis, who has been a dominant cornerback for many years. All in all, Saints fans hope Lattimore has grown out of his hamstring injury and will be successful.
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin, 32nd overall
On March 10, the Saints and the New England Patriots made a trade that sent WR Brandin Cooks to the Patriots, and the Patriots first round selection to the Saints. With this pick, the Saints picked up arguably the best offensive lineman in the draft, Ryan Ramczyk, from the University of Wisconsin. Ramczyk is a DIII (Division Three NCAA Football) transfer, and only a one-year starter at the University of Wisconsin. Despite this, Ramczyk is said to be a day-one starter on the right side for the Saints. The reason behind this? Ramczyk has great feet in the run game plus a smooth slide on pass blocks. Coach Dickens, this one’s for you.
Marcus Williams, S, Utah, 42nd overall
If you paid attention to the NFL combine in February, then you definitely heard about Marcus Williams. Williams arguably had one of the best combine performances of the year. He jumped a whooping 43.5 inches in the vertical jump, and 10.75 feet in the broad jump. He only ran a 4.56 in the forty-yard dash, but, if you watch Williams’ film, it will make you forget all about that slow time. He collected 10 interceptions in the last two seasons, and has never been seen to miss a tackle. The only problem scouts did see was that he was too slim for his lanky frame. This obviously did not outweigh the pros for the Saints, as they took him with their first pick on day two of the draft.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee, 67th overall
This pick was the most criticized of the draft because of the glaring need for a pass rusher. The Saints traded up with the San Francisco 49ers to select Alvin Kamara out of Tennessee, who is sometimes compared to Reggie Bush. After signing Adrian Peterson, Saints fans were scratching their heads wondering what Mickey Loomis was thinking. However, after you sit with this pick for a bit, you’ll start to see what he could do with it. At 5’10” and 214 lbs., Kamara has the NFL size and speed to excel. However, Kamara has had a history of injuries. He has inconsistent vision when running to the outside, and will almost always cut left when he is in the open field with a defender. Sometimes, he will run himself into tacklers rather than follow blocks. As he runs, his style and frame are reminiscent of Pierre Thomas, one of the greatest running backs in New Orleans Saints history.
Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida, 76th overall
Anzalone could be one of the best linebackers in this class if it wasn’t for the time that he spent on the training table. He suffered a broken arm which sidelined him for most of last year, and he injured his shoulder in his sophomore season. Known for his long, blonde hair, Anzalone racked up 53 tackles, with three sacks. He performed well at the combine, running a 4.63 in the forty-yard dash, and benched 225 lbs. 16 times. Anzalone has great gap-to-gap quickness and the athleticism to keep up with a running back in the open field. However, Anzalone has never forced a fumble or had an interception while at Florida. He also is said to play with an inconsistent base and bites too often on a play-action. The Saints are hoping that the veteran linebackers can coach up Anzalone and turn him into a star in the NFL.
Trey Hendrickson, EDGE, Florida Atlantic, 103rd overall
Named the Conference USA defensive player of the year for 2016, Hendrickson excelled at rushing the passer. If you know absolutely anything about the Saints, you know that their biggest need has been a talented edge rusher to counter Cameron Jordan. So far, no dice. Hendrickson is a promising selection, though. He racked up 51 tackles and 9.5 sacks last year at FAU, even while being the focus point of every offense. He also caused havoc on special teams by blocking four kicks, leading all FBS teams. He rushes the passer with a solid lean and a strong club hand to prevent tackles from punching well. This is highlighted by his great speed off the edge, with a 4.65 in the forty. He is slow to diagnose a play, however, and isn’t an opposite side of the field run-defender. Rather, Hendrickson is more adept for pass rushing situations. The Saints will definitely prosper from Hendrickson’s talent.
Al-Quadin Muhammad, EDGE, Miami, 196th overall
With the Saints final pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, they selected Muhammad, another much-needed edge rusher. Muhammad carries a ton of baggage, including a dismissal from the team after the 2015 season, and, not to mention a year suspension in 2014 after an altercation following the team’s spring game. Because of this, Muhammad is extremely inexperienced. Amidst all of this, the Saints took a chance on him. They might have done this because they saw how much potential this kid would have if some discipline was put into him. He already has a very powerful punch and a good transfer of speed-to-power in his bull-rush, but he is a bit slow off the ball and will have some problems with his quickness. If you watch any film on Muhammad, you can tell that he is a very raw player who has much room to improve. He can’t go out in coverage a lot, which doesn’t mean much because he will be used in pass rush situations only.
All in all, the Saints have navigated through the draft successfully, and will benefit greatly from the talent they picked up.