The New Orleans Saints were so close, but yet so far away as they lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. A sketchy non-call on a pass interference penalty while the Saints were driving towards the end zone with less than two minutes in the 4th quarter would have allowed for New Orleans to salt the game away. However, New Orleans was forced to kick a field goal to only go up three points. The Rams were able to drive quickly to tie the game to send it into overtime. Then, the Rams won in overtime 26-23.
With the new season, the Saints must recover from that damaging loss. Let’s see if their draft will help push the Saints over the hump next season.
Round 2, Pick 16: Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M. 6’4″, 303 lbs. This pick is definitely a need pick. Max Unger, the Saints center last season, retired after the playoff loss. Protecting the interior of the line is a necessity for QB Drew Brees to remain as effective as he has been throughout his career. Fortunately, McCoy should be able to step right in and start. He proved that he will be prepared for the NFL by starting three seasons at center in the SEC.
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Round 4, Pick 3: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida. 5’11”, 210 lbs. Gardner-Johnson will add depth to the secondary as a free safety that can also either cover or blitz from the inside lining up against a slot receiver. The last two drives in the loss to the Rams showed that secondary help is also needed.
Round 6, Pick 4: Saquan Hampton, S, Rutgers. 6’1″, 206 lbs. Hampton also adds depth to the secondary at strong safety as he was good at breaking up passes. His height will also help guard tight ends across the middle.
Round 7, Pick 17: Alize Mack, TE, Notre Dame. 6’4″, 249 lbs. Mack is primarily a pass-catching tight end so he may become another option for Brees in the passing game.
Round 7, Pick 30: Kaden Elliss, LB, Idaho. Elliss will add depth to the linebacking corps as he played both inside and outside last season. He can either rush the passer or sit back in coverage. Also, he was used as receiver on the offense so this could be beneficial for the Saints since the Saints love to use trick plays in their offensive arsenal.
Grade: Even though the Saints only had five draft picks, they used them wisely. I give them a C+.
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