To begin the NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints had several needs, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But the team had limited picks due to the bounty scandal punishment that all came to a close during the Draft. Let’s see if they filed in their needs.
Most mock drafts had the Saints selecting a pass rusher like Barkevious Mingo or Jarvis Jones, but head coach Sean Payton and his staff planed the draft out quite well with the limit number of selections they had. New Orleans desperately needed to improve along the front seven and at the back-end of the defense, as the team finished next-to-last in the league in passing and scoring and dead last in rushing and total defense in 2012. The Saints decided to select the best available safety to overhaul the back-end of their defense by selecting
Kenny Vaccaro the star safety out of Texas 15th overall. Vaccaro is an excellent tackler with strong closing speed which head coach, Sean Payton loves . He was one of the best all-around athletes at the position and has the game tape to prove that he is a legitamate NFL starter. Vaccaro, who ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, could play either safety spot in the NFL. Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins both were completely inconsistent and looked clumsy at times in coverage this past season. Vaccaro will give the team the much needed upgrade at the safety position . As a junior at Texas, Vaccaro emerged as a big-time prospect, posting 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, eight passes broken up and two interceptions. Last year as a senior, Vaccaro had a career-high 107 stops, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. This was an intelligent and safe pick that fills a need.
The Saints didn’t have a second round pick due to the Bounty Scandel, but did have a third rounder and with the No. 75 overall pick selected Arkansas-Pine Bluff OT, Terron Armstead. He is a perfect fit in terms of both value and need for the Saints, who lost LT Jermon Bushrod in free agency. Plus he fills a another one of the Saints’ top needs this spring which is providing star signal-caller Drew Brees with better protection along the edges. But its just funny skipping your most pressing need in the first three rounds, as the team did not fix their run stopping problem.
Armstead (6-foot-4 3/4, 306) set an NFL Combine record for offensive linemen with a 4.71 forty-yard dash, and tied Oklahoma's Lane Johnson for this year's fastest ten-yard split (1.64). His vertical was 34 1/2 inches. Drawing pre-draft comparisons to Texans All-Pro Duane Brown, Armstead is a long-armed (34") left tackle with rare movement skills and sky-high upside. Concerns are his level of competition and a medical red flag on Armstead's back, discovered during pre-draft exams. Along with a shoulder issue from last season, it's why the athletic freak slipped this far. But then again, he demonstrated incredible athleticism throughout the draft process and also has quality game tape.
Finally, later in the second day of the draft, the Saints got to work and traded up to select Georgia NT John Jenkins with the No. 82 overall pick, sending the Nos. 106 and 109 picks to the Dolphins. Jenkins (6-foot-4, 359) is an agile mover despite massive size and flashed pocket-pushing ability for the Dawgs. He tallied eight tackles for loss and four sacks as a two-year starter in Georgia's 3-4 defense, playing both nose tackle and five technique ( a3-4 defensive end). Jenkins drew pre-draft comparisons to Red Bryant and Shaun Rogers. With the Saints moving to a three man front, Jenkins could rotate at the nose tackle spot.
With the 146th overall selection in the fifth round, New Orleans selected wide receiver Kenny Stills from Oklahoma. Of course receiver wasn’t a primary need for the Saints in the draft, but with the departure of Devery Henderson there is room for enhancement. New Orleans is getting excellent value for him, since he was projected as a fourth-round prospect.
With the 183rd overall selection in the sixth round the Saints selected defensive end Rufus Johnson, which finally found them a neeeded pass rusher, although he was a reach.
Overall Draft Grade: B
Oren Shiri is the Founder of NFL Draft Insiders. Be sure to like us on Facebook at NFL Draft Insiders and follow @NFLorentime on Twitter to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!