The 2023 NFL Draft will be kicking off on April 27th in Kansas City, Missouri and the New Orleans Saints currently hold eight selections in this year’s draft. Before the free agency period started, the Saints had an alarming need at quarterback and defensive lineman. New Orleans was able to build up their quarterback roster by signing Derek Carr and bringing back Jameis Winston. There are holes that are still showing up on the Saints roster heading into the month of April and they will look to turn their attention to the draft to answer those concerns. Here are the top three draft needs for New Orleans after the first week of free agency:
Defensive tackle has been the top need for the Saints after the end of the 2022 season. In 2022, the Saints run defense did not perform well during the year. New Orleans lost David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle so far to the free agency period. Malcolm Roach is another key interior defensive line that is still in the free agent market and it will be key for the New Orleans Saints to lock him up to a multi-year deal to provide depth to the position.
The Saints have been busy locking up defensive tackles through free agency with the recent signing of Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd. The black and gold are in need of a punishing nose tackle that can generate better push by the middle of the line. Adding at least one more player in the mix to the interior for the defensive line would be ideal for the Saints heading into the 2023 season. Possible options at the top of the draft will be Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey, Clemson’s Bryan Bresee, Baylor’s Siaki Ika, and Michigan’s Mazi Smith.
One of the most scrutinized draft picks in New Orleans Saints franchise history, Marcus Davenport, is no longer with the team as he will now be a member of the Minnesota Vikings. New Orleans was able to restructure veteran defensive end Cam Jordan, but outside of Jordan the defensive end depth chart remains thin for the black and gold. Even with the contract restructure, Jordan will be heading into the final year of his contract and he isn’t getting any younger.
Outside of Jordan, New Orleans has Carl Granderson, Tanoh Kpassagnon and Payton Turner in the mix for the starting role. The Saints could certainly use some help at the position as the Saints pass rush got off to a slow start for the 2022 season. Some of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft at the defensive end position consists of Clemson’s Myles Murphy, LSU’s BJ Ojulari, Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV and Ohio State’s Zach Harrison.
A year ago the New Orleans Saints were able to strike gold at the wide receiver during the 2022 NFL Draft. The Saints took a risk by trading up a couple of picks with the Philadelphia Eagles to take Chris Olave in the first round. New Orleans was also able to add undrafted rookie free agent, Rashid Shaheed, into the mix. There was a lot of optimism with the wide receiver core heading into the 2022 season, but it ultimately didn’t pan out the way the Saints had planned.
Olave and Shaheed were dominant in their rookie campaign as they will be set up to have a bright future with the organization. On the other hand, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry struggled to stay on the field due to injuries. New Orleans was able to bring back Thomas during the free agency period, but Landry still remains on the market. The black and gold has experience at the position, but it always is a good idea to have depth at wide receiver. The Saints could turn their attention to Boston College’s Zay Flowers, Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt, Houston’s Nathaniel Dell or North Carolina’s Josh Downs at the top or middle rounds of the draft.
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