Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential draft-day solutions.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
Saints Team Need No. 1: Defensive Line
The Saints have only two players worth hanging their hats on in their defensive front: DT Sheldon Rankins and RE Cameron Jordan. The team did well to retain talented up-field penetrator Nick Fairley, although his track record suggests Fairley is a year-by-year proposition. New Orleans has allowed a league-high 930 points over the past two seasons, good for 29.1 per game. This roster desperately needs pass rushers and run stuffers.
Saints No. 2 Team Need: Cornerback
The 2016 Saints fielded a rag-tag cornerback corps, playing a host of undrafted rookies and street free agents and frequently resorting to in-game and weekly benchings due to those players’ ineffectiveness. Only LCB Delvin Breaux has flashed starting-caliber ability among the returnees, and he fractured his fibula last September before suffering a year-ending shoulder injury in Week 15. The Saints realize this weakness based on their flirtations with Patriots’ restricted free agent CB Malcolm Butler.
Saints No. 3 Team Need: Linebacker
As you might expect, every level of the defense gets touched on here. The Saints’ third-most-glaring defensive need is linebacker, where 2016 addition James Laurinaitis was a predictable flop and 2015 first-round pick Stephone Anthony has been a bust.
Other Considerations: Running Back, Quarterback, Wide Receiver
2017 NFL Draft: More coverage here
Norris’ Mock Draft
Round 1 (11): EDGE Charles Harris, Missouri - The earliest I could see Harris off the board is No. 6 to the Jets. The latest is No. 15 to the Colts. Harris is a joy to watch when rushing the passer, winning with upfield explosion and a swim move as well as countering with an inside spin. His pro day workout showed an average athlete. I can work with average athletes, not non-NFL athletes.
Round 1 (32): CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama - Humphrey is frequently mentioned as a first-round corner. Some teams have questions, others like his athleticism and experience in Alabama’s system. I worry a bit about the big plays he allowed, in terms of the combination of 20-plus yard receptions, touchdowns and penalties.
Round 2 (42): LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt - I doubt Cunningham lands in the top-32, but he could be a second-round target for a number of teams. He played a bit on the outside as well as inside linebacker. The Saints could deploy him from a variety of gaps.
Round 3 (76): QB Nathan Peterman, Pitt - There’s enough buzz on Peterman to think the latest he’s on the board is round three. Round two is definitely possible. A number of teams mentioned they were impressed with Peterman when watching Tyler Boyd in 2016.
Round 3 (103): RB Kareem Hunt, Toledo - Mark Ingram saw fewer touches at times last season due to fumbling issues. Enter Kareem Hunt, who never fumbles and has talent to succeed as a runner and receiver. His balance is great.
Round 6 (196): DL Roderick Henderson, Alabama State - Late round, small school, big bodied defensive tackle.
Round 7 (229): WR Speedy Noil, Texas A&M - The talent is undeniable. As is his time in Texas A&M’s doghouse.