New Orleans Saints Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson – Round 1
New Orleans lost multiple interior defensive linemen to free agency, and the team addressed the void by taking Bresee in the first round. Bresee was a difficult evaluation. He had an excellent freshman season, then started his sophomore year well before going down with a torn ACL. His junior year saw Bresee deal with a horrible family tragedy while also not being in normal football shape coming off the injury. If Bresee gets back to his freshman form and builds off of that, he could be a very good value for the Saints.

As a freshman, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Bresee was explosive and showed the strength to push through blockers. He had speed to close and was a force on the inside. During 2022, Bresee had some issues getting off blocks and did not look as fast as prior to his ACL injury. In run defense, Bresee is a mauler who fights at the line of scrimmage. He possesses quality length and size, plus plays hard. Bresee could stand to improve getting in on tackles becuase he only notched 13 stops during 2022.

The Texans made a similar pick to this in the 2022 NFL Draft when they took Derek Stingley, as they were drafting him based off his fabulous freshman campaign. The Saints look to have taken a similar angle with Bresee. I think Bresee will be helped significantly once he gets in better condition thanks to New Orleans’ training program. Before too long, Bresee has the potential to turn into a solid starter for the Saints.

2022: Chris Olave
2021: Payton Turner
2020: Cesar Ruiz
2019: None
2018: Tre’quan Smith, WR
2017: Ryan Ramczyk, OT
2016: Sheldon Rankins, DT
2015: Hau-Oli Kikaha, LB
2014: Khairi Fortt, LB
2013: Kenny Vaccaro, S

Most Likely To Bust

Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame – Round 2
Marcus Davenport never lived up to the billing and the draft-capital investment that New Orleans placed in him. This offseason Davenport signed with the Vikings. New Orleans has a replacement ready to go with Payton Turner, but the team needed a third defensive end to rotate with Turner and Cam Jordan. Foskey will help fill that void, and he was the most productive pass rusher in Notre Dame history. While Foskey recorded 26.5 sacks over the past three seasons, he slid to the second round because teams had real concerns about his ability to convert to the NFL.

Foskey has limitations as a pass rusher. He is a big lineman who displays some serious stiffness and a lack of agility. That leads to him having some issues with redirecting toward the quarterback and getting turned to them after his quickness allows him to get upfield. Foskey is unable to sink his hips to dip underneath tackles, and that could lead to him getting pushed around the pocket by edge blockers at the next level. While he is not a slow, lumbering lineman, Foskey is not a pure speed demon off the edge. Thus, he is quicker than fast. Foskey is going to have to beat pro blockers mainly based off his power and physicality.

Foskey’s stiffness and inability to get off blocks could be very problematic for him against NFL offensive linemen. Of New Orleans’ early-round picks, Foskey looks like the one with the most bust potential.

2022: Alontae Taylor, CB
2021: Ian Book, QB
2020: Zach Baun, LB
2019: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S
2018: Rick Leonard, OT
2017: Alex Anzalone, LB
2016: Vonn Bell, S
2015: Stephone Anthony, LB
2014: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB
2013: Terron Armstead, OT

Potential Boom Pick

Kendre Miller, RB, TCU – Round 3
After signing Jamaal Williams in free agency, the Saints did not have a big need at running back. However, Miller was too good to pass on when he fell to their third-round pick. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Miller is a powerful force capable of running over defenses. He could start out as a backup behind Williams and Alvin Kamara, but in a couple of years, it would not surprise me if Miller is the feature back in New Orleans.

There is a lot to like about Miller for the NFL, as he looks like a future three-down starter who can be the bell cow of a rushing offense. Miller demonstrates very good running fundamentals, and his natural running instincts are phenomenal. He has patience in spades to let holes develop; his patience is truly phenomenal. On top of being willing to wait, Miller has the vision to see lanes about to come open, as well as good body lean to run behind his pads. In the open field, Miller has a second gear to break off long runs, and once he decides to go downhill, he has a burst to hit the hole quickly before it closes up.

Miller tends to run North-South, and he is not an elusive runner who will juke defenders. Thanks to his power and body lean, Miller can run through contact, keeping his legs going and finishing runs well. In the NFL, he should be a solid back to pick up yards after contact due to his combination of good overall balance, strength, knee bend, and ability to stay behind his pads. He is a touchdown machine in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Williams and Kamara will be the lead running back tandem for the Saints in 2023, barring injury. Miller will probably rotate in to keep those veterans fresh and help protect them from getting hurt. However, I think Miller could end up being a fantastic NFL back and be a stud runner for the Saints in a few years. Of the team’s early-round picks in 2023, I think Miller has the most boompick potential.

2022: Trevor Penning, OT
2021: Paulson Adebo, CB
2020: Adam Trautman, TE
2019: Erik McCoy, C
2018: Marcus Davenport, DE
2017: Marshon Lattimore, CB
2016: Michael Thomas, WR
2015: Andrus Peat, OT
2014: Brandin Cooks, WR
2013: John Jenkins, DT

Future Depth Player

Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State – Round 4
I think the Saints made an underrated signing with Derek Carr in free agency. Carr has a lot of good years left, and he played extremely well for the Raiders in 2021, leading them to the playoffs despite losing his head coach – Jon Gruden – to unjust firing, his star tight end – Darren Waller – to injury, and No. 1 receiver – Henry Ruggs – to an off-the-field tragedy. Carr could immediately lift the Saints to the playoffs. However, it still made sense for the team to add some depth at the quarterback position, and Haener was a quality fourth-rounder who should be a capable backup quarterback. While Haener may not have a starter’s skill set, he has some arm talent and is an accurate rhythm passer. He profiles as a quality No. 2 and competent backup.

2022: D’Marco Jackson, LB
2021: Pete Werner, LB
2020: Tommy Stevens, QB
2019: Alize Mack, TE
2018: Natrell Jamerson, S
2017: Alvin Kamara, RB
2016: David Onyemata, DL
2015: Garrett Grayson, QB
2014: Ron Powell, OLB
2013: Kenny Stills, WR

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

29. Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson – C Grade
The Saints lost David Onyemata this offseason, so it’s not a surprise that they drafted Bryan Bresee with Myles Murphy off the board. However, this is a very questionable selection with Nolan Smith and Michael Mayer on the board. Bresee is a very talented player, but he didn’t live up to expectations at Clemson, and he also has some major injury concerns.

40. Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame – A- Grade
The Saints could have gone with Keion White, but Isaiah Foskey is a great option as well. Foskey is very athletic and should help a pass rush that was horrific last year. With Marcus Davenport gone and Cameron Jordan on a sharp decline, someone like Foskey was needed.

71. Kendre Miller, RB, TCU – A Grade
This pick shouldn’t surprise anyone. Alvin Kamara, who could be suspended for his off-the-field issues, looked like he was running in quicksand last year, outside of the game in which he played against the flu-ridden Raiders. Miller is someone who had second-round interest, so I like the value.

103. Nick Saldiveri, G/OT, Old Dominion – C- Grade
I’m not sure why the Saints needed to trade up for Nick Saldiveri, who was a late-round prospect. Saldiveri is at least a versatile lineman – he can play tackle and guard – which is key because New Orleans needed blocking help.

127. Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State – C+ Grade
The Saints needed a quarterback of the future, so Jake Haener makes sense to fill that role. Haener is an accurate quarterback, but has an injury history. I think there were better options at the position, but I don’t hate this pick.

146. Jordan Howden, S, Minnesota – B Grade
I had Jordan Howden going three picks later than this, so the range makes sense for the Saints, who needed to improve their secondary. Jordan Howden had lots of fans from the scouting departments even though his play didn’t show it at Minnesota.

195. A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest – B Grade
No one should be surprised that the Saints added to their receiving corps, which is starved for depth. A.T. Perry is a massive wideout who should be a nice weapon in the end zone.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: B. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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