With Drew Brees retiring, the 2021 NFL Draft is direly important for the New Orleans Saints. So how will they approach it.
The New Orleans Saints have been one of the most impressive teams when it comes to the NFL Draft. Each year, Sean Payton and the rest of the front office managed to put together a stellar cast of potential superstars. Most point to their 2017 draft class as one of their best in recent memory and it’s true.
It was a huge year for the Saints and it gave them guys whose impact is immeasurable. While the following year’s drafts haven’t been nearly as fruitful, the Saints have the ability to chose quality over quantity and end up winning out in the end. Honestly, that strategy has really been their motto in drafting and it’s worked.
For the 2021 NFL Draft, however, things are looking a bit different. Not only did the team lose their fearless leader and gunslinger in Drew Brees to retirement but the team is at a crossroads. It’s unclear which route they’re taking for this season. At this point, we don’t even know who will be replacing Brees as Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston are both worthy candidates.
The major question before the draft is can the New Orleans Saints get away with keeping their draft strategy the same? Can the team continue to draft for quantity over quality? Does the team need to orchestrate a blockbuster trade to even be a contender? Ultimately, what can we expect from a team that keeps surprising us every draft?
Which draft strategy will work best for New Orleans Saints in 2021?
Before talking about strategy, it’s only right to look at how many picks the team has and what rounds they’ll be picking in. In 2021, the Saints have eight picks to use and no doubt they’ll use them in one way or another. The team has a pick in the first two rounds, two picks in the third round, one in the fourth and sixth rounds before ending with two in the seventh round. Unlike previous years, the team has a lot to work with.
Obviously, it should come as no surprise that the Saints won’t gamble their first-round pick as they’ve acquired some great guys in the first round. Unlike other teams though, the Saints usually go for building blocks in the first round. No doubt the team will try to either pick up someone who will beef up their offensive line or a guy who can help a defense that’s struggled to keep a firm grip on opposing offenses.
As for the other rounds, I think that the Saints will be making some trades and more than likely, ending up with fewer picks than they started with. Last year’s draft haul was somewhat disappointing with only Cesar Ruiz really making an impact. Nevertheless, the Saints are in a much different position now as they’re trying to make the most of the guys they have but find support where they truly need it.
Ultimately, if the Saints decide to trade up or down, they need to find someone who will bolster their defense. The Saints need to find someone who will compliment Marshon Lattimore. With everything going on in his personal life, Lattimore’s mind could be elsewhere. Having someone else who is strong, if not stronger than Lattimore is exactly what the defense needs.
While the defense is the main priority, the team also needs to think about adding more depth at wide receiver. Michael Thomas is an incredible player but he played with an injury last season and it was tough at times. While they might not match up to Thomas’s skill level, the Saints need someone who will come in and make an impact immediately. Finding a receiver could be hard, but the Saints aren’t afraid of a diamond in the rough.
Overall, the 2021 NFL Draft for the New Orleans Saints is going to be an interesting one. While the draft is always a big night, 2021 seems like a make-or-break year for the team. Without Brees, we’ll truly see what they’re capable of and if Brees was the glue holding the team together. We can only hope that if the team does surprise us during the draft that it’s a good surprise.