2013 NFL Offseason: New Orleans Saints
Draft Grades, Season Previews, Team Needs, Free Agents
New Orleans Saints (Last Year: 7-9)
2013 NFL Draft Grade: A
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: New Orleans is in the same position as most of the teams in their division in terms of needing to add tons of upgrades to its defense. A left tackle for Drew Brees has been discussed, but that's more of a luxury than a big need because of how quickly Drew Brees can release the football.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Despite having just five selections, the Saints had one of the top draft classes. Four of their selections scored an A- or better, and they were able to fill some key needs.
The secondary has always been an issue for New Orleans, so its fans have to be thrilled that the front office landed the top safety in the class, Kenny Vaccaro. The Texas product was projected by some to go to the Jets at 13 or Panthers at 14, so it was definitely the right range for him. A better value, meanwhile, was John Jenkins, obtained at No. 82. Some pegged the monstrous nose tackle as a late first-round prospect, so getting him in the middle of the third was quite a feat.
Speaking of steals, Terron Armstead shouldn't have been available at No. 75. He may not be ready to start now, but he has unbelievable athleticism and the potential to develop into a stud left tackle. He should be able to help Drew Brees, as will Kenny Stills, who could replace the departed Devery Henderson.
My one gripe with New Orleans' draft class is that it didn't find a pass-rusher until No. 183. But with limited resources, thanks to the Spygate penalty, you can't exactly blame the front office for that.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
15. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas: A- Grade
This is a very good pick by a smart team. The Saints had major issues at safety, and Kenny Vaccaro is one of the top players available. With Matt Ryan and Cam Newton in the division, New Orleans absolutely had to upgrade its secondary. Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper weren't cutting it.
Follow @walterfootball for updates.
75. Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: A Grade
It was sad to see Steve Gleason announce this pick. I don't understand why there's no cure for ALS yet, but hopefully that'll change soon. At any rate, the Saints made an outstanding selection with Terron Armstead, who is raw but has first-round talent. There was some speculation that Armstead could sneak into the end of the first round, so New Orleans just made a terrific value pick.
82. John Jenkins, NT, Georgia: A+ Grade
The Saints are absolutely killing this draft. John Jenkins was considered by some to be a late first-round prospect, but he fell because there just wasn't a league-wide need for nose tackles. The Saints probably don't mind too much because they needed a big defensive lineman in the middle of their new 3-4.
144. Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma: A- Grade
Receiver wasn't a perceived need for the Saints heading into the draft, but there was room for improvement with Devery Henderson gone. Kenny Stills was a fourth-round prospect, so New Orleans is getting good value with him.
183. Rufus Johnson, DE/OLB, Tarleton State: C Grade
Rufus Johnson is the first rush linebacker drafted by the Saints, and it's a bit surprising that they waited this long for one. Johnson wasn't deemed a draftable prospect, so this is a pretty big reach.
*** 2013 NFL TEAM NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***
If anything, the 2012 Saints' season taught us the value of head coaches. Roger Goodell single-handedly capsized New Orleans' 2012 campaign by suspending Sean Payton for the whole year. The team was consequently discombobulated early on, even somehow losing to the Chiefs in overtime. The Saints played better as the season progressed, but Payton was still sorely missed. The good news is that his suspension is over.
- Rush Linebacker: Junior Galette and Martez Wilson will start at rush linebacker for New Orleans. The front office will have to find a top pass-rusher. Signed Victor Butler; re-signed Junior Galette
- Two Safeties: Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins both were completely inept in coverage this past season. Upgrading Harper must be done immediately. Jenkins will be entering the final year of his deal, so the Saints could give him one more shot - though they should bring in some competition. Signed Jim Leonhard
- Two Offensive Tackles: New Orleans' greatest priority on offense this spring will be to provide Drew Brees with better pass protection along the edges. Both starting tackles were inept pass-blockers last year. Signed Jason Smith
- Cornerback: Corey White can't be allowed to play nearly as much as he did in 2012. Signed Keenan Lewis
- Nose Tackle: Brodrick Bunkley should be able to start at nose tackle, but a long-term solution is needed.
- Defensive End: The Saints have to find some depth on the defensive line in their 3-4. Signed Kenyon Coleman
- Inside Linebacker: Some depth is needed here.
- Wide Receiver: Just someone to make sure Devery Henderson isn't on the field very often because he is terrible. Joe Morgan could be the answer, but that's unclear.
- Quarterback: The Saints should find a capable backup behind Drew Brees. Signed Luke McCown
- Tight End: David Thomas was cut, so New Orleans will have to find another reserve tight end. Signed Ben Watson
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Keenan Lewis, CB, Steelers. Age: 27.
Signed with Saints (5 years, $26 million; $11 million guaranteed)
Keenan Lewis played very well in his first season as a starter in 2012, surrendering a solid 52.7 completion percentage and just three touchdowns.
Victor Butler, DE/OLB, Cowboys. Age: 26.
Signed with Saints
Victor Butler has shown some solid pass-rushing ability in his brief action behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.
Ben Watson, TE, Browns. Age: 32.
Signed with Saints
Ben Watson's best days are behind him. He caught 49 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns in 2012.
- Jason Smith, OT, Jets. Age: 27. -- Signed with Saints
- Kenyon Coleman, DE/DT, Cowboys. Age: 34. -- Signed with Saints
- Jim Leonhard, S, Broncos. Age: 30. -- Signed with Saints
- Luke McCown, QB, Falcons. Age: 32. -- Signed with Saints (1 year)
New Orleans Saints Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Brian De La Puente (RFA), C, Saints. Age: 28.
Tendered by Saints (2nd round)
An undrafted free agent in 2008, Brian De La Puente has become one of the better centers in the NFL.
Chris Ivory (RFA), RB, Saints. Age: 25.
Tendered by Saints (2nd round)
Chris Ivory is talented enough to start for some teams. He has a 5.1 yards-per-carry average throughout his career. He received the most action back in 2010 when he gained 716 yards on 137 attempts. He's not much of a pass-catcher out of the backfield, however.
Junior Galette (RFA), DE, Saints. Age: 25.
Re-signed with Saints (3 years)
Junior Galette is a solid situational pass-rusher who should have seen more action last year.
Sedrick Ellis, DT, Saints. Age: 28.
Sedrick Ellis has been an enormous bust for the Saints as the No. 7 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. There's still time for him to turn his career around though.
Jermon Bushrod, OT, Saints. Age: 29.
Signed with Bears
Jermon Bushrod run blocks well, but he can't pass protect at all. He surrendered four sacks in 2012, but that number would've been much higher if Drew Brees didn't release the ball so quickly.
- Jonathan Casillas, OLB, Saints. Age: 26. -- Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)
- David Thomas, TE, Saints. Age: 30.
- Devery Henderson, WR, Saints. Age: 31.
- Elbert Mack, CB, Saints. Age: 27.
- Scott Shanle, OLB, Saints. Age: 33.
- Johnny Patrick (Waivers), CB, Saints. Age: 25. -- Claimed by Chargers
- Chase Daniel, QB, Saints. Age: 26. -- Signed with Chiefs
- Turk McBride, DE, Saints. Age: 28. -- Signed with Bears
- William Robinson, OT, Saints. Age: 28.
- Will Herring, OLB, Saints. Age: 30.
- Ramon Humber, OLB, Saints. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Saints
- Courtney Roby, KR, Saints. Age: 30. -- Re-signed with Saints
2013 NFL Free Agent Positions:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades
2013 Fantasy Football Rankings - May 25
2013 NBA Mock Draft - May 22
2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 21
Charlie's 2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 20
NFL Picks - Feb. 3
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