The New Orleans Saints are coming off of two straight seasons with heartwrenching playoff losses. The Minnesota Vikings took them down in the Wild Card Round last season, just one year after the refs kept the team from the Super Bowl.
Despite an injury to Drew Brees, the Saints were one of the better teams in the regular season. Teddy Bridgewater, who signed with the Panthers this offseason, led the squad to five wins and Brees carried them to a solid 8, bringing their record to 13-3. New Orleans ranked on offensive and 11th on defense, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
The franchise enters the draft with long-term needs at wide receiver, offensive line, and secondary. However, no need is as great as a linebacker, which is what they should be looking for with their first pick in the draft.
Round 1 – No. 24 – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Saints showcased a solid defensive unit in 2019, though coverage in the middle of the field and flats was their Achilles heel. Enter LSU’s Patrick Queen. The 6’1″ linebacker is equipped with elite speed, granting him the ability to cover tight ends and running backs in space while shutting down access across the middle.
He’s a bit raw and will need a year or two to fully capture his potential, though he’ll be on the field at least situationally from day-one. If he’s available at No. 24, he’s worth the pick for New Orleans.
Round 3 – No. 88 – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
While the Saints inked Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and they still could be a fit for Dez Bryant, the team will likely look to bring in a younger pass-catcher via the draft. Denzel Mims would be a great project for New Orleans. The 6’3″ wide receiver doesn’t have the greatest route tree in his arsenal, though working out every day with Sanders and All-Pro Michael Thomas will do wonders for the prospect.
Round 4 – No. 130 – Jonah Jackson, G, Ohio State
The Saints re-signed Andrus Peat to a massive five-year extension, though there is still need for a long-term starter at the other guard spot and additional depth throughout the line. Protecting Dree Brees, who recently inked a two-year deal with the club, is a top priority and Jackson should be able to grow into a role on the right side of the line.
Round 5 – No. 169 – T.J. Carter, CB, Memphis
Although he stands at just 5′ 11″, Memphis’ T.J. Carter is an exceptional athlete with great ball-hawking skills. He projects to be a slot cornerback and his great footwork may allow him to see significant snaps during his rookie campaign. At worst, he should provide depth to the Saints’ secondary.
Round 6 – No. 203 – Michael Divinity, LB, LSU
New Orleans goes back to the LSU well and takes Queen’s teammate Michael Divinity, as their linebacking core could use additional depth. Divinity’s path to a starting spot isn’t as sure as Queen, though look for the 242 lb linebacker to play some special teams as he works to develop his game.