Matt will be reviewing each team's pre-draft analysis by talking about the draft range of targeted players.
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New Orleans Saints (Last Year: 7-9)
It's just the nature of the NFC South. You can go from winning the division to utter disappointment year after year, or you can go from relative obscurity to division champion like the past five years.
Can the Saints add enough talent on defense to overtake the Buccaneers as division winner, again? They made a huge improvement with Jonathan Vilma, who was an elite middle linebacker in the 4-3 scheme with the Jets before he became the bad fit in the 3-4 base they installed a few years ago. He was a steal and he will be highly productive, but they still have needs on three critical positions on defense. The road to the playoffs starts on draft day for New Orleans. Let's look at their draft range with the 10th overall pick:
Watch out for this shocker pick on draft day. Free safety is a big need because Josh Bullocks has never lived up to his second-round draft pick three years ago. He gives up a lot of big plays and is a big reason why the Saints were so bad versus the pass last year. Phillips would be a reach here, but reaches happen in the draft. It's my job to anticipate them. Don't say I didn't warn you.
With Glenn Dorsey and Sedrick Ellis very likely to be off the board here, Balmer fills a need as a disrupting under tackle, which doesn't exist on this defense.
Trade up for Sedrick Ellis:
If Ellis falls to the Ravens, then that presents the opportunity for the Saints to leapfrog the Bengals, but it would cost them approximately 100 TVC (trade value chart) points between pick No. 8 (1,400) and No. 10 (1,300). Here is my trade projection if the Saints wanted to make this move:
New Orleans receives picks: Nos. 8 and 106 (1,482 TVC points)
Baltimore receives picks: Nos. 10 and 78 (1,500 TVC points)
With Mike McKenzie and the free agent acquisition of Randall Gay, I don't see the Saints going corner here, but maybe later in the draft. It isn't like I haven't disagreed with picks in the first round before though, and Aqib Talib, Mike Jenkins, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are certainly all in the range here of the No. 10 pick (though I think it would be a bad move from a need standpoint).
The Saints really do not have much on the weak side (Scott Shanle and his 178 career tackles). An upgrade in speed, range, and play-making ability is very much needed anywhere on this defense and I think Rivers just might be who they are targeting at No. 10.
In Round 2 they might just want to turn a lot of heads and draft a talented tight end to upgrade Eric Johnson. Fred Davis and Dustin Keller would give very solid value here to the Saints at pick No. 40.
Defensive tackle also provides more value here than at pick No. 10 since like I mentioned, Ellis and Dorsey are likely to be gone (assuming my trade projection does not happen). Dre Moore, Trevor Laws, and Pat Sims are all adequate value here at 40. Watch out for sleeper Marcus Harrison from Arkansas here as well.
If they don't go with a cornerback early they might address it in the middle rounds of the draft. Charles Godfrey, Justin King, Patrick Lee, Orlando Scandrick, and Tyvon Branch is what they could be pursuing in terms of a cover corner in Rounds 3-5.
They could go with a tight end later in the draft, if not in the second round. Jacob Tamme, Kellen Davis, John Carlson, or Martin Rucker are options in that same range of the draft as the cornerbacks I mentioned.
Center is also a position that needs to be replaced with the loss of Jeff Faine. Mike Pollack, Kory Lichtensteiger, John Sullivan, Jamey Richard, Doug Legursky, and Fernando Velasco are all options in Rounds 3-7.
New Orleans Saints 2008 Offseason Needs
Back to Matt's 2008 NFL Pre-Draft Analysis Page