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2021 NFL Draft: Top 3 needs for the New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
ANALYST
Modified 27 Feb 2021
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The New Orleans Saints has a big offseason ahead and will need to expertly recruit at this year's 2021 NFL draft if the franchise hopes to remain competitive in the long run:

If quarterback Drew Brees retires, coach Sean Payton and the team will need to find a new man under center for the 2021 NFL season. The New Orleans Saints are also way over the cap limit and might not be able to retain some of their key players, notably, defensive end Trey Hendrickson, tight end Jared Cook, safety Marcus Williams, and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.

If general manager Micky Loomis and Payton are to lead the New Orleans Saints back to the Super Bowl, the duo will need an outstanding offseason, both in free agency and at the 2021 NFL draft.

Let's take a look at what draft picks the New Orleans Saints own in the 2021 NFL draft along with their top three needs coupled with our suggestions.

What draft picks do New Orleans Saints have at the 2021 NFL Draft?

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints have the following picks in this year's 2021 NFL draft:

  1. Round 1 - Pick 28
  2. Round 2 - Pick 56
  3. Round 3 - Expected compensatory pick after the Falcons franchise named former New Orleans Saints front-office executive Terry Fontenot its new general manager
  4. Round 4 Pick 112.

The New Orleans Saints sacrificed their fifth-round and sixth-round picks in the 2021 NFL draft on trades made during 2019 and 2020. New Orleans also surrendered its seventh-round pick after the team was found guilty of repeatedly breaking the NFL's COVID protocol during 2020.

It's not all bad news for the Saints, however, as they are expected to receive at least one more compensatory third/fourth-round pick as part of the deal that saw QB Teddy Bridgewater head to the Carolina Panthers last year.

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What are the top 3 needs for the New Orleans Saints in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints' salary cap issues mean that GM Loomis can't really afford to hand out new deals to players with expiring contracts.

Hence, it is looking increasingly likely that New Orleans will be heading into the 2021 season without the likes of Trey Hendrickson, Marcus Williams, and linebacker Alex Anzalone.

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Now, some might say the New Orleans Saints should target a QB or a WR early in the 2021 NFL Draft, but I honestly think they have those positions covered. Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders barely played together last season, so it'll be interesting to see how the duo will play in tandem, provided they both remain healthy.

The likes of Deonte Harris and Tre'Quan Smith are more than capable understudies. Harris, in particular, looks to be a very exciting prospect. As for QB, if Brees does retire, Taysom Hill will take over under center. The team can also sign Jameis Winston to a better deal and give him a chance to lead the offense in case Hill isn't up to the task. If I had to bet money on it, I'd expect Payton to burn a few late-round picks in the 2021 NFL draft on the aforementioned positions but nothing more.

Since the Saints are likely to lose a DE, FS, and an LB, I think it's probable that these are the positions that Payton and Loomis will target early in the NFL draft.

But who will the New Orleans Saints draft with their picks? Let's take a look:

2021 NFL Draft: First Round - Linebacker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (pick #28)

Notre Dame v Michigan
Notre Dame v Michigan

Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah took a giant leap in 2020 and was named the Butkus Award winner as America's best college linebacker.

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Despite his size, Owusu-Koramoah is agile and always seems to be in a position to make a play on the ball. The linebacker has an Anzalone-type engine and is constantly trying to make big plays for his team.

The Notre Dame star would be a good fit for Sean Payton's blitz-oriented pass rush and would probably be an upgrade on the departing Alex Anzalone should the Saints be able to bring him to the Bayou.

2021 NFL Draft: Second Round - Safety, Jevon Holland (pick #56)

Washington State v Oregon
Washington State v Oregon

Oregon safety Jevon Holland opted out of college football last year due to COVID-19 concerns, which is why he could fall down the draft pecking order a little.

I personally think Trevon Moehrig and Richie Grant will be selected ahead of Holland, and this could gift the Saints a golden opportunity to land a quality player in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft. Both Moehrig and Grant would make for viable alternatives if Holland moves up the board.

Holland was outstanding in his freshman year at college, operating in the safety position, and just as good during his sophomore year when he was switched to nickel-corner. Holland had amassed 11 pass breakups and nine picks for Oregon before opting out.

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Marcus Williams has been a top performer for the Saints, and any team he ends up at will be better for his arrival. But, if the Saints could replace Williams with a player of Holland's potential, it would definitely soften the blow of losing the team's current number one safety, especially given the versatility of Holland.

2021 NFL Draft: Third Round - Defensive End, Jayson Oweh (pick #84)

Penn State v Rutgers
Penn State v Rutgers

He may only be ranked as the 8th best defensive end heading into the 2021 NFL draft, but, physically, Penn State product Jason Oweh is one of the outstanding edge-rushers in college football.

Oweh's 4.3 40-yard dash showcases his lightning speed for a defensive end and he's proven himself to be highly versatile too, featuring in most of Penn State's option-plays, something Sean Payton will probably like.

In his first season as a regular starter, Oweh earned an 89.8 run-defense grade and if he's still on the board come the third round, the Saints could have a replacement for Trey Hendrickson in the bag.

Published 24 Feb 2021, 03:43 IST
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