Monday, May 11, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: New Orleans Saints

The Saints were possibly the unluckiest team in 2008, taking over the reigns from the 2007 Eagles who had their share of bad luck that season. New Orleans just needed a break here or there and they would have made the playoffs and challenged the Panthers for the division title. Fixing their luck - and a pretty crappy defense - will do wonders for this team in 2009.

We all know by now that the Saints had a pretty good offense. They were first in The League in 2008 in points scored, passing yards, and total yards (all per game averages). They were only 28th in rushing yards per game though, something that shows their drawbacks on the o-line and playing from behind at times. Why were they playing from behind so much? The awesomely terrible defense. They were 23rd or lower in points, passing yards, and total yards (all allowed per game). Their rush defense, why not awful, was still on 17th. The secondary remains a cause for concern. Fix that and you'll see effects not only on defense, but offense as well. Everything is linked.

Sean Payton enters his fourth season as head coach of the Saints and is looking to get back to the postseason. Weird facts are working in his favor. Since 2002, the year the realigned divisions were set, the team that wins the division in a given year is the one that was last the year before. It has happened the last seven seasons. I'd bet good money it happens in 2009 as well.

1/14/14 - Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio State
4/16/116 - Chip Vaughn, SS, Wake Forest
4/18/118 - Stanley Arnoux, ILB, Wake Forest
5/28/164 - Thomas Morstead, P, Southern Methodist

  • RB - Try again.
  • OL - Try again.
  • Specialist - Check!
  • LB - Check!
  • CB - Check!
  • S - Check!
The Saints really needed to concentrate on defense. They lost eight games in 2008 but five of them were by three points or less. Imagine if their defense (or kicking game) improved just a tad. This could have been a 10 or 11 win team. With only four picks to work with their hands were kind of tied. However three of their four picks were solid and will contribute in some way immediately. I never like taking specialists but the Saints certainly need them. Taking a RB or some OL depth was kind of a luxury the Saints wisely avoided; getting a CB, S, and LB were the best way to go.

GRADE: 90/100

Pick 1 - This is the exact pick they needed to make. Not only does it attempt to fix an area of need, the flexibility Jenkins provides makes it almost like a 2-for-1 deal. Some scouts think Jenkins may not be fluid enough to play CB in the NFL, meaning a switch to safety - a la Antrel Rolle - could be in his future. No matter; both positions need help in New Orleans. Jenkins will be able to play right away. Grade: 10

Pick 2 - Looks like they may have gotten Jenkins safety mate of the future (if Jenkins doesn't stick at CB). Chip Vaughn should have been a third round pick. The Saints got a steal in round four. They needed that to happen since they had so few picks to work with. Vaughn is a big hitter and may replace Darren Sharper when he retires or fight Roman Harper in a year or two. Grade: 9

Pick 3 - Arnoux was called Wake Forest's best player by the Demon Deacons' best player - fourth overall pick Aaron Curry. Arnoux provides immediate depth and a developmental player for a unit that is lacking much firepower. Unfortunately he won't be demonstrating anything this year. Arnoux ruptured his Achilles in spring practice and will most likely miss the season. Grade: 8

Pick 4 - I'm not a fan of taking specialists in the draft. I've said it many times; they just don't contribute enough to warrant even a fifth round pick. With that said the Saints were filling a need and Morstead was possibly the top punter in the draft. The Saints had trouble winning close games and having good specialists will fix that problem. Grade: 6

GRADE: 33/40


The Saints came in with a clear plan, that is evident. They knew they had to fix their defense and they went in the right directions. They now have two young players for the secondary as well as a developmental LB who could prove to be a steal in two years. They didn't have much to work with but, in the end, they made their picks count.


WHY: This was a solid draft. Jenkins will contribute immediately, most likely in nickel and dime packages before starting in 2010. Vaughn will be a special teams ace and developmental guy until he gets a shot to knock off Roman Harper or take over for Darren Sharper. Arnoux ran into some bad luck but he is dedicated and will be back and ready to fight next year. A punter is a punter, the selection was needed but I still think they could have gotten a d-lineman or another LB there.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Jenkins
Worst Pick: Morstead
Sleeper: Arnoux
Instant Impact: Jenkins
Developmental: Arnoux

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - New Orleans Saints
CBS Sports (Prisco): C
CBS Sports (Rang): C+
ESPN (Kiper): C (Brooks): C (Fan's): B
Walter: A-



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