5 Potential First-Round Scenarios for New Orleans Saints In 2014 NFL Draft
5 Potential First Round Scenarios for the New Orleans Saints
For the 2013 New Orleans Saints, their season was as good as any team has had considering all of the circumstances that they had to face. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan came in from the Dallas Cowboys franchise to fix one of the weakest defenses in NFL history under former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Head coach Sean Payton returned from his year-long suspension after his role in the Bountygate scandal.
The Saints would finish their 2013 season at 11-5 and suffered a divisional playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. As many as nine key defensive players were on injured reserve at some point during the season. Even with the injuries, the Saints defense played very well throughout the season. On offense, quarterback Drew Brees was the Brees of old after a previously mediocre season last year without Payton calling the plays.
Going into 2014, the Saints not only have to contend with the best teams in the NFC, but also within their division, the NFC South. The Carolina Panthers beat out the Saints by one game for the division title while the previous division winner Atlanta Falcons took a considerable step back. These three teams have all been division winners in the past three seasons, with the Saints' last title coming in 2011.
With the first round of the NFL Draft approaching faster than most think, the Saints have a multitude of needs that can vault the team into the top half of the NFC while maintaining a secure advantage over both Carolina and Atlanta.
These are my five best scenarios that the Saints should consider with their first-round pick, the 27th overall.
5. Scott Crichton, Defensive End, Oregon State
The Saints' defensive front relies on plenty of disguises and clever defenses to slow down opposing offenses under Ryan's scheme. The Saints lost both opening day starting linebackers Victor Butler and Will Smith to season-ending injuries even before game one. To compensate, the Saints should consider Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton, who has the versatility to be a down-linemen, yet can also stand up and play outside linebacker.
4. Morgan Moses, Offensive Tackle, Virginia
Starting LT Charles Brown is up for unrestricted free agency this offseason and was benched late in favor of rookie Terron Armstead. Starting center Brian De La Puente and RT Zach Strief are also up for free agency, leaving some questions marks. Assuming Brown is let go, Virginia's Morgan Moses would be an excellent fit for the New Orleans' offensive line. By drafting Moses, the Saints could slide Armstead over to right tackle, giving them more athleticism on the line that Strief doesn't possess.
3. Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU
TCU's Jason Verrett would be a great fit for a banged-up Saints secondary going through question marks this offseason. With so many injuries in this unit, the Saints might draft more than one cornerback to counteract what happened last season. Verrett doesn't have the prototypical size at 5-foot-10, but his playmaking ability at TCU showed that he would be very hard for the Saints to pass on this late in the first round.
2. Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Florida State
Seeing how badly the New Orleans receivers struggled against the big and physical corners of the Seattle Seahawks, Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin would be an excellent addition to an already potent offense. Benjamin also provides an excellent option should Marques Colston start to slide downward.
1. Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State
The Saints defensive backfield was completely decimated by injuries this past year. Starters Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson were both lost for the season, as was first-round safety Kenny Vaccaro. With Greer getting older and Robinson still a mystery, Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby would be a great fit at the latter half of the first round.