In this week’s mailbag, we review the 2014 Draft and look ahead to the beginning of the season in September.
1.) How would you grade the Saints draft overall?
I thought the Saints had a pretty good draft and it definitely feels like one of the better ones in the past few years. They filled pretty much every ‘need’ that they had but center and even added depth at safety and offensive tackle. I really liked the Brandin Cooks and Stanley Jean-Baptiste selections and I’m quite intrigued by Ronald Powell. He was the number one overall rated recruit in 2010 when he committed to play outside linebacker at the University of Florida and could be dominant in Rob Ryan’s defense. Many of the draft pundits gave the Saints a lower grade because their Day 3 picks are all classified as reaches, but I think that’s a bit unfair, especially when they picked for positions of depth as opposed to guys that would be starting. On a letter scale, I would give this draft a solid B.
2.) Which of these scenarios is more likely? Brandin Cooks makes the Pro Bowl as a rookie / Brandin Cooks never makes a Pro Bowl in his career
This is a very tough question. I believe Brandin Cooks will be a great addition to the Saints and will contribute a ton, but it’s going to be very hard for him, along with other rookie receivers, to compete for with the likes of Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, and Alshon Jeffery for a Pro Bowl spot. So unfortunately I’m going to go with it being more likely that he never makes a Pro Bowl.
3.) Will anyone chosen on Day 3 of the draft be on the Saints roster when they kick off in Atlanta on September 7th?
I think all of the Saints’ Day 3 draftees will be on the roster but Tavon Rooks, the offensive tackle from Kansas State. Right now the Saints are a little thin at inside linebacker, so Khairi Fortt has a good chance of making the squad and he fits the mold that Rob likes at this position. As I said earlier, I’m really excited to see how Ronald Powell looks for the Saints. I wouldn’t find it brash to say he could be a 10+ sack player in this system. Finally, Vinnie Sunseri is the type of player that every coach likes to have: smart, very disciplined, and loves to hit. Even though the Saints have what is probably the best safety group in the NFL right now, he will be a great backup and will fit in the system. I also expect him to be a pretty good special teams player for the team.
4.) What holes do the Saints still need to fill?
As I said a little bit earlier, the only remaining hole that I see the Saints having comes at the center position. Tim Lelito is listed as the team’s starter, but his usual position is at guard. Naturally that is a little bit concerning, but it helps that the Saints would have two of the best guards in the league on either side him. I do expect for the Saints to bring back Jonathan Goodwin to act as a stopgap at center for a year or two, though.