NFL New Orleans Saints

5 Players The New Orleans Saints Should Consider In The First Round Of The 2014 NFL Draft

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5 Players To Consider In First Round Of 2014 NFL Draft

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saintssaw just how important coaching is in the NFL. With the return of head coach Sean Payton also came a return to the postseason after a 7-9 season the season before. Despite the great turnaround the 2013-14 season the Saints had, this is a team that must keep an eye on both right now and into the future if they hope to contend, especially with the emergence of teams like the Carolina Panthers in the division.

During the 2014 NFL season, New Orleans' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan made waves by taking over a historically inept defense from the 2012-13 season and making it into a respectable unit. With that said, the team still needs to continue to add talent, particularly to the defensive side of the ball, if they want to contend in the future. The 2013-14 season saw the Saints re-emerge as contenders, but now it's up to them to continue to build through the draft in order to keep improving.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the five players the Saints should take a look at in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Chris Ross is an NFL Draft writer for, you can follow him on Twitter @prosport_news, "like" him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Khalil Mack

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Despite getting pretty decent production out of Junior Galette, this team's linebacking core needs a major infusion of talent, and Mack would provide just that. Regardless of whether or not outside linebacker Victor Butler returns from his season-long injury, the Saints should do just about anything possible to snag a pass-rushing monster like Khalil Mack.

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4. Kelvin Benjamin

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During the 2013-14 season, rookie Saints receiver Kenny Stills made some waves by producing much more than expected of him. With that said, the team could use an athletic receiver. And in Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, there is major potential for plenty of production. Benjamin could bring the athleticism of a receiver and the size of a tight end. The Saints could easily pounce on Benjamin as long as he is available by the time it's their turn to pick.

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3. Darqueze Dennard

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During last offseason, the New Orleans Saints made a very underrated signing in Keenan Lewis, who turned out to be the team's best cornerback. However, the Saints absolutely must continue to build at the position, and cornerback Darqueze Dennard would be a great fit across from Lewis. Dennard has the size and ball skills, and he would fit in nicely in Rob Ryan's aggressive defense.

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2. Louis Nix III

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During the regular season, it was often very obvious that the Saints lacked a true presence at the front of their defense, particularly at defensive tackle where starter Brodrick Bunkley managed only eight tackles despite playing in 12 games. In Louis Nix III, the Saints could be receiving a potentially special defensive player, with the quickness to get past opposing lineman and the strength to blow up plays in the backfield. Despite missing the final part of the season in Notre Dame due to injury, Nix is still a great prospect, and if the Saints could get him later in the first round, you can bet they would select Nix in a heartbeat.

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1. Cameron Erving

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Coming into the 2013-14 season, the Saints decided they would try out a Charles Brown/Terron Armstead battle at the left tackle position, as stalwart Jermon Bushrod bolted for Chicago in the offseason. As it would turn out, Brown would struggle most of the season, and while Armstead did show promise in the last few games, he is still largely unknown. Cameron Erving, from Florida State, brings fantastic athletic ability, and loads of potential at either tackle spot. If he's available, Erving could either take over for Armstead or right tackle Zach Strief. He's not a perfect prospect, however, Erving has a lot of potential.