2017 NFL Draft

Projecting the draft: New Orleans Saints

Projecting the draft: New Orleans Saints

By Jeff Reynolds | NFLDraftScout.com

Barring a trade, a move the Saints called highly unlikely, the first time the team will finally go on the clock will be late Friday night with the 89th overall selection.

The Saints also have one pick in rounds four through seven -- the 122nd overall selection in the fourth round as well as picks in the fifth (No. 162), sixth (179th) and seventh (234th) rounds.

That's a grand total of five selections in the 2012 draft and a heaping helping of pressure on a franchise already fractured by the offseason scandal from ownership down to the middling bottom-of-the-roster grunts.

The Saints will be without their top two picks, but have plenty of needs at critical areas.

The Saints traded their first-round pick, which would have been No. 27 overall, to the New England Patriots on the first day of last year's draft to acquire running back Mark Ingram. Then lost its second-round pick because of the bounty scandal involving ex-coordinator Gregg Williams.

Active in free agency, including lucrative deals with MLB Curtis Lofton, DT Brodrick Bunkley, OG Ben Grubbs and re-signing WR Marques Colston, the franchise isn't exactly in panic mode. That won't happen as long as franchise QB Drew Brees, unhappy as he might be playing under a one-year tender offer, is under contract.

General Manager Mickey Loomis said there's "no chance" the team will get back into the first or second round, but would consider trading down to pick up an additional pick or picks. The team will again look to hit on a target or two in the middle rounds to add needed youth and depth to a contending roster.

Four players Mickey Loomis and the Saints should contemplate:

DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 81)

There's a major need for meat in the middle of the Saints' line, even if defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's scheme doesn't require girth from his interior linemen. Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin are coming off of marginally productive seasons and former top-10 pick Sedrick Ellis too easily is moved off the ball against powerful run blockers. Bunkley, who had a career year with the Broncos, is more of a one-gap penetrator. Without at least one behemoth inside, high-priced addition Curtis Lofton is likely to be too easily moved off the ball.

OG Josh LeRibeus, Southern Methodist (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 106)

Depth was woeful for the Saints last season, and LeRibeus is a pure guard with good size and movement skills to go with raw strength. Grubbs brings some versatility but the Saints don't have the personnel to cross-train with the parts currently on the roster. With seven linemen active on gameday, a player who can slide in at multiple spots like LeRibeus would have immense value.

WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 112)

Lance Moore has started only 18 games in the last five years, the Saints lost Robert Meachem in free agency (Chargers) and Devery Henderson is entering the final year of his contract. The presence of playmaking tight end Jimmy Graham and big target Marques Colston minimizes the need for another stud receiver, but the more playmakers, the merrier for Brees. Broyles can fit in the slot or be an interchangeable option with Moore and Henderson. His stock will be modest relative to the playmaking skills displayed at Oklahoma -- he became the NCAA leader with 349 career receptions last season -- because of a torn left ACL suffered last November. But Broyles' game is precision route-running and uncanny body control with soft hands and Brees no doubt would welcome yet another intermediate threat to add to the Graham-Colston-Darren Sproles pecking order.

CB Ryan Steed, Furman (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 169)

Steed needs time and seasoning to develop, but the Saints' willingness to travel the small-school path has paid major dividends in the past (Colston from Hofstra, LT Jermon Bushrod from Towson). Losing Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence in free agency makes this a priority position, even with available options on the roster. Steed is undoubtedly raw, as proven at the Senior Bowl, but he has a physical side with long arms and natural instincts and burst to develop into a starter-caliber right cornerback.

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