Needs: The Saints have finished 7-9 in each of the past three years and four of the past five — they’re in a bit of a rut. They’re also a team that’s about to enter a significant transition — how many more years does Drew Brees have left? New Orleans needs to capitalize on the Brees they have now, and that means putting offensive weapons around him but also bolstering the team’s defense in serious ways. New Orleans could use a slot receiver and a ready-to-play (but high upside) defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback. They’ll have a great chance to address all those needs — they have five picks among the first 103.
Picks: First round (11, 32), second round (42), third round (76, 103), sixth round (196), seventh round (229).
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Don’t risk it — Foster might drop in the first round because of his diluted drug test sample at the NFL Scouting Combine, but the Saints can’t afford to not land a player of this caliber in the first round — he’s a game changer for their defense. Foster is the rare all-around linebacker and while there are some concerns about his shoulder and size, he has a tenacity and natural talent you cannot teach. While New Orleans could hope he falls to 32, he’s more likely to go closer to No. 11 — the Saints shouldn’t let him go elsewhere.
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Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Wilson is highly rated by some teams, but it’s likely that he’s going to fall to the bottom of the first round because of how excellent this cornerback class is. The Saints desperately need a cornerback, so this pick needs to be used on one. Wilson is the best-case scenario (though Marlon Humphrey isn’t far behind) because of his versatility and size. He’s a player who, worst-case scenario, can be a solid free safety.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova
He’s a prototype 4-3 defensive end with production, a strong motor and plenty of smarts. The only question about him is if he’ll be able to convert that Division I-A production to the NFL level — it’s going to scare off a few teams, but New Orleans should look at the upside and take him at No. 42 if he’s on the board. It could look really, really silly that he fell into the second round come October.
Brian SpurlockBrian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
Kupp is the most prolific receiver in Division I history, and it’s not because of the Air Raid system at Eastern Washington — he wins every snap with athleticism, strong route running and drive. You can slide him inside or out, though the slot should be his home, and he’s going to produce. He’s not big — that’s a concern for teams — and he was in an offense that doesn’t translate easily to everyone’s playbook — but it’s an easy translation for the Saints. There’s unlikely to be a better fit in this draft.
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Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota
Myrick has great speed, but is undersized. But if a team is looking at Tre’Davious White, LSU’s cornerback who is a fringe first-round prospect, they can hold off and take Myrick on the third day. He possesses many of the same traits (both positive and negative) as White — strong in coverage, poor in run support, and sometimes outmuscled by larger receivers, making them best suited for the slot. White is a better coverage man right now, but the difference isn’t as wide as the four or five rounds that are likely to separate the two players.