Grading the Draft - New Orleans Saints

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

The talk leading up to the draft was that New Orleans was looking to trade up for a quarterback. In the end, half of that statement was true.

Round 1 (No. 14 overall): Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Round 3 (No. 91): Tre'Quan Smith, WR, UCF

Round 4 (No. 127): Rick Leonard, OT, Florida State

Round 5 (No. 164): Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin

Round 6 (No. 189): Kamrin Moore, CB, Boston College

Round 6 (No. 201): Boston Scott, RB, Louisiana Tech

Round 7 (No. 245): Will Clapp, OC, LSU

UDFA: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State; Daronte Bouldin, OL, Ole Miss; AJ Hantak, LS, Eastern Illinois; Cory Helms, OL, South Carolina; Jeromy Irwin, OT, Colorado; Colton Jumper, LB, Tennessee; Keith Kirkwood, WR, Temple; David Knevel, OL, Nebraska; Henry Mondeaux, DL, Oregon; Cameron Serigne, TE, Wake Forest; Taylor Stallworth, DT, South Carolina; Linden Stephens, CB, Cincinnati; Deon Yelder, TE, Western Kentucky

The Saints made one of the bigger moves of the draft, trading from the back end of round one to No. 14in order to choose Marcus Davenport. There was talk in the days leading up to the draft that Davenport would end up a top-15 pick, and the Saints made it come true. And while I think Davenport is a solid prospect, the price paid by the Saints to make the move was too steep. Davenport will help the pass rush, but I don’t believe he’s a premier edge rusher. And as we saw at the Senior Bowl, he can be a liability against the run. There’s too much risk in this pick for my liking.

Based on our board, Tre’Quan Smith was a reach in Round 3. He’s a solid pass catcher but lacks true vertical speed and won’t stretch the field. Considering the need at tight end for the Saints, Ian Thomas would’ve been a much better selection with this pick.

Likewise, Rick Leonard was selected much earlier than we, or anybody else for that matter, predicted. Leonard has excellent length but is a waist bender who lacks footwork in space. Terron Armstead is under contract for three more seasons and they control Ryan Ramczyk for the next four. Reaching for Leonard made no sense.

Natrell Jamerson has terrific upside and could be the future nickel safety as veteran Kurt Coleman closes out his career. Kamrin Moore will compete for duties at dime back, while Boston Scott is a creative ball carrier who’ll have to make it returning punts.

Will Clapp was excellent value and should be groomed to take over for aging veteran Max Unger.

Deon Yelder was a terrific UDFA signing, and the tight end should have a very productive NFL career. He has the makings to be the second man on the depth chart at the position. Linden Stephens will compete for a roster spot as an underrated corner with outstanding speed. I like the signing of Daronte Bouldin as well. He’s a strong, stout small-area guard with next-level skills.

Analysis: This draft will hinge on Marcus Davenport and the price paid by the Saints to trade up and grab him. In our opinion, the price was too steep. Even after that, many of their picks were reaches or made little sense, Jamerson and Clapp notwithstanding. Grade: C