By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on April 9, 2014
It's been over four years since the New Orleans Saints hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. With quarterback Drew Brees under center, however, they're more than capable of capturing the franchise's second title in 2014. A successful draft is needed to fix some of the roster's blemishes, though.
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Thanks to injuries at linebacker, the Saints employed a 4-2-5 scheme as a base defense at times in 2013. The unconventional system might not be going anywhere in 2014. After signing Jairus Byrd and matching the offer sheet of Rafael Bush, the Saints are loaded at safety. With three on the field so often, though, nabbing more depth at the position might be in order. Less of an emphasis on the linebacker position could also be a result.
The Saints' 49 sacks ranked fourth in the entire NFL in 2013. But a defense can never have too many pass rushers, and a pass rusher could be the best player available player with the No. 27 overall pick in the first round. Missouri's Kony Ealy has been a frequently mocked player to the Saints in Round 1. Ealy is one of the top edge rushers of the class and would be an excellent addition to New Orleans' front seven.
Brian de la Puente's departure has left a huge void at center for the Saints. In-house candidate Tim Lelito may prove capable of taking over the job, but the Saints will at least consider drafting a new starter. Florida State's Bryan Stork is a potential suitor in the third or fourth round and recently visited New Orleans.
Starting cornerback Jabari Greer was a salary cap casualty in February. Corey White is a capable slot option, but the Saints need another reliable boundary corner to pair with Keenan Lewis. Considering its talent at safety, New Orleans is arguably another quality corner away from fielding one of the league's best secondaries. Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert might be the best fit, but would likely require trading up for.
Drew Brees was just as prolific as ever in 2013, but could still use another playmaker at receiver considering tight end Jimmy Graham and two running backs comprised three of his five most productive targets. The Saints should get in on the fun at receiver anyway seeing as the class is loaded with talent at the position. USC's Marqise Lee is one first-round caliber prospect the Saints have expressed interest in.
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