NFL Hot Press: Saints Lean Pass Rush at 11

Saints Lean Pass Rush at 11

Updated March 3, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Over the past few seasons, the Saints have been seeking to upgrade their defense so it can get back to championship form. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is still playing at a high level, and New Orleans has a real sense of urgency to make another Super Bowl run before Brees’ Hall of Fame career comes to an end. At the Senior Bowl, heard from Saints sources that the inclination was to add an edge rusher in the first round with cornerback being another prime need. In following up with Saints’ sources at the combine, the team continues to lean towards a pass-rusher with the 11th-overall pick. 

The 2017 NFL Draft is very strong at the cornerback position and the Saints feel that they could land a good corner in the second round. There should be some pass-rushers available in Round 2, but the talent dropoff from the first-round pass rushers could be significantly greater than the difference at cornerback. In many years, there can be a run on pass-rushers, and the Saints think that is possible this year as well. Right now, it sounds like the Saints’ preference is for Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton over Tennessee’s Derek Barnett and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas. 

The Saints could end up with a second first-round pick if they trade wide receiver Brandin Cooks. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that New Orleans has had trade talks with the Titans and Eagles regarding Cooks. If the Saints land another first-round pick from one of those teams, they could come out of the top 20 with a defensive end and cornerback, or a wide receiver to replace Cooks.