2018 NFL Draft: New Orleans Saints team needs, draft picks, prospects to watch

The story of the Saints in recent seasons has been Drew Brees leading a historically-great passing game, but the defense sinking any chance at making a title run. In 2017, the Saints ascended to the level of a Super Bowl contender thanks to a running game sparked by rookie Alvin Kamara and a vastly-improved defense headlined by rookie Marshon Lattimore. Will they be able to keep adding exceptional talent this offseason and chase a Super Bowl title next year? Let's dive in.

2018 draft picks

  • Round 1: New Orleans
  • Round 2: None
  • Round 3: New Orleans
  • Round 4: New Orleans
  • Round 5: New Orleans, Miami
  • Round 6: New Orleans, Arizona*
  • Round 7: New Orleans

The Saints lose their second-round pick after trading it to the 49ers in order to draft Alvin Kamara, a swap they'd made 100 times out of 100 after the rookie's fantastic freshman season. The Saints pick up an extra fifth-rounder from Miami in the Stephone Anthony trade, and could add a sixth-rounder from the Cardinals in the conditional trade that sent Adrian Peterson to the desert.

Biggest offseason needs

  • Quarterback
  • Defensive end
  • Linebacker
  • Safety

Priority No. 1 starts at quarterback, where Drew Brees is set to become a free agent after his contract voids in March. As part of that deal signed before the 2016 season, the team cannot franchise tag their longtime signal caller. He's still among the elite at his position, so bringing him back for his age-39 season seems like a no-brainer. While the interior of the offensive line had its issues, the contracts each starter is making means it's unlikely the team will make any changes.

Manti Te'o has been a find at middle linebacker, and the Saints are likely stuck starting A.J. Klein at an outside spot due to his contract. Rather than settle on Craig Robertson as the third starter, the front office could look for an upgrade at the position who can play on all three downs. With defensive end Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro both hitting free agency, the Saints could also look to add talent at both positions, but they have two capable starters at safety in Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell, while Trey Hendrickson and Hau'oli Kikaha could pick up the slack on the defensive line.

Prospects to watch

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Mayfield's not a quarterback prospect of Drew Brees' caliber, but there are parallels between the two. Both are smaller-the-normal, highly-productive collegiate signal-callers. Mayfield was a "point guard" at Oklahoma, quickly distributing the ball to his bevy of pass-catching options from the shotgun, which is similar to the weekly task for Brees.

Jeff Holland, DE, Auburn 

Holland is a speed-to-power edge-rusher who showcased plenty of "bend" around the edge during his career at Auburn. He had 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2017 for the Tigers, and many of those plays were the result of immense hustle.

Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas 

Jefferson needs to learn how to shed blocks, but he's a tremendous mover at his size. Most linebacker prospects who tip the scales around 240 pounds can't move as rapidly as he does. This Texas product is a new-age second-level defender who'd be placed in a fine situation behind Cam Jordan and Co. 

Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M

Watts is half-safety, half-nickel cornerback who's rarely late to the football and lays the lumber often. His collegiate figures tell the story of high-energy defensive back. Watts made 269 tackles, had 22 tackles for loss and seven interceptions in his final three seasons with the Aggies.

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