By Andrew Schuster @ShootsMcGavin on April 12, 2014
The New Orleans Saints bounced back in 2013 after a subpar 2012 season. Although they did not finish at the top of their division, the Saints managed to make a playoff run before falling short of a shot at the NFC championship game. A strong draft set New Orleans up for a great year, but will that momentum carry over into the 2014 NFL Draft? Here are five prospects the Saints must avoid come draft time in May to keep it going.
For teams that have a smaller receiving corps, Benjamin may be the right guy. Because of his height, he is a red-zone threat, but that's about it. The Saints already have two big bodies in Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham. Kelvin Benjamin lacks the speed and route-running skills to be a successful receiver for New Orleans. As a pocket passer, Drew Brees doesn't have the time to sit and wait around for somebody to get open downfield.
Kouandjio is an excellent offensive lineman, but the durability of his knee should be a major concern for teams that are in the market for a tackle. He reminds me of OT Jammal Brown (same height and build), the Saints first-round pick in 2005. Brown started off strong, but after a knee injury, he was unable to really bounce back. The re-signing of Zach Strief and emergence of Terron Armstead should be enough for the Saints to pass on Kouandjio.
Lawrence is a versatile athlete and could be a good pickup, but I don't the see the bulk to be a defensive end or the speed to be a linebacker. He was also suspended on three separate occasions for violating team rules while at Boise State. Unless Anthony Barr or Ryan Shazier fall down the board, New Orleans should use their later picks to add depth to the pass rush. I like Bama OLB Adrian Hubbard in the third or fourth.
Unless Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans somehow magically fall down the draft board, the only other receiver the Saints should be looking at is Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU. Lee has great athletic ability, but has also been battling injury. I think it's best if New Orleans avoids Marqise Lee in the draft. If Beckham is not available at 27, the Saints should wait and snag LSU's Jarvis Landry or Clemson's Martavis Bryant in the second or third round.
Ford was excellent in 2013 racking up 8.5 sacks and earning All-SEC honors. Unless he can make the transition to outside linebacker, at 6-foot-2 and 243 pounds, I don't see Ford making it in the pros as a defensive end. He is an explosive athlete, but will be something to work with if the Saints are willing to go that way. I could be wrong, but I think New Orleans should avoid Dee Ford.
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