The Saints signed Jameis Winston back after a 5-2 start to the season before a season-ending knee injury, and Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are still on the roster for the time being. But, they lost Terron Armstead, who signed a massive deal with the new-look Miami Dolphins.
The Saints 2021 season will always be remembered for Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian, and Ian Book taking turns at QB following Winston’s injury. Yet, somehow, they pitched a shutout against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and hung around in the NFC Wild Card race for quite some time.
The Saints have work to do in the 2022 NFL Draft and have four picks in the first three rounds. Here is one direction they could go in.
Round 1, No. 19 overall: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Now, things get tricky here for New Orleans at No. 19. They need a long-term answer at QB, but the two-year deal they gave to Winston suggests they aren’t looking to take a signal-caller this early. The loss of Armstead leaves a massive hole in the offensive line, so that could be an option with this pick.
However, they need a playmaker, and even though Thomas is on the roster, he has barely seen the field lately.
Plus, Chris Olave made things interesting during the NFL Combine with his comments on the Saints and his relationship with Thomas, who played at Ohio State.
With Winston in town, now he needs a go-to wide receiver. If Thomas is healthy, he can be that guy, but he’s played just seven games since 2020 and missed all of last season, so that’s a huge concern.
Olave is a talented wide receiver and would immediately be Winston’s top target in what looks like a mediocre receiving group outside of Thomas. Marquez Callaway led the team in receiving last year with 698 yards, and Deonte Harris was second with 570 yards.
So yes, the Saints desperately need a WR, and Olave is one of the best options in this draft class.
Round 2, No. 49 overall: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
The Saints decide to pass on guys like Trevor Penning in the first round and it works out perfectly. In Round Two, they end up with Daniel Faalele. If you haven’t heard of him, that’s a surprise.
The Minnesota Gophers offensive tackle is 6-foot-8 and 379 pounds and a monster up front.
Armstead left for a huge payday with the Dolphins, so Faalele comes in and can start right out of the gates. His technique needs some work, and he is a former rugby player who ended up playing football at Minnesota, so there is some risk here.
However, his size is out of this world, and with the right coaching and development, he could be a Pro Bowl tackle sooner rather than later.
Round 3, No. 98 overall: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
New Orleans lost Marcus Williams, who signed a new contract with the Baltimore Ravens and got paid handsomely. So, the Saints need another cornerback and find a gem in the third round.
Cam Taylor-Britt is a longtime starting corner in the NFL and projects to be a key rotational piece for the Saints as soon as his rookie season.
Taylor-Britt can tackle, cover, be moved around on defense, and his ball skills (as seen in the clip above) are impressive. Plus, he has a pair of Second-Team All-Big-Ten honors on his resume.
The Saints find a quality starting CB toward the end of the third round, and you can’t ask for much more than that.
Round 3, No. 101 overall: Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Alabama
Alabama running backs and the NFL go hand in hand, and everybody saw Brian Robinson Jr. torch Cincinnati in the College Football Playoff with an eye-popping stat line.
Sure, there have been plenty of misses (Trent Richardson leads the way). But, there have been plenty of superstars, such as Derrick Henry.
The Saints have Kamara, but the rest of the RB room is forgettable. Robinson is a big back that can be used ideally in a goal-line work and can run through the tackles. Kamara can catch passes out of the backfield and do a little bit of everything, so the Kamara-Robinson duo is intriguing.
Also, if Kamara has to miss time for any reason, Robinson can easily step in and be the every-down back for the Saints. This RB class is better than most think, and finding a way to get Robinson at the backend of the third round is a terrific scenario for New Orleans.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference