The New Orleans Saints are still searching for the heir to quarterback Drew Brees’s legacy. With the NFL draft around the corner, New Orleans is exploring every avenue. They are looking to move up to nab one of the top quarterback prospects in the draft. NFL insider Jordan Schultz indicated that the Saints could be packaging two of their picks (numbers 16 and 19) to move up for quarterbacks Malik Willis (Liberty) or Kenny Pickett (Pitt).
The New Orleans Saints' rumored QB draft targets: Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett NFL Draft Profiles
Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett are projected to be two of the top three quarterbacks in this year’s NFL draft (Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral also projects to be drafted in the first round). According to Schultz, Willis and Pickett, in particular, have caught the eye of the New Orleans Saints. The team currently has Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Andy Dalton, and Ian Book on the roster at the position.
If anything, rumors of the team’s interest in Willis and Pickett signal that they are looking for a long-term starter who will sit out their rookie season to learn from NFL vets like Winston and Dalton. Because the Saints are at a crossroads with longtime coach Sean Payton leaving the team, it makes sense to explore every option to solidify their quarterback position for life after Brees and Payton.
Malik Willis, Liberty
Early projections of Malik Willis have him going in the second round, but of course, anything can happen between now and draft day. If Willis’ stock rises, it’s because he compares similarly to Russell Wilson and has a high ceiling to grow. Physically, he has the tools to be the best passer in the 2022 class, so a team like the Saints will make the most sense where Willis won’t be expected to start on Day One.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsurgh
No one’s draft stock has fluctuated as much as Pickett due to his experience (coming back to Pitt for another season helped his draft stock rise into potentially the first round), hand size, and other intangibles. As it stands, many sports sites have Pickett going anywhere from top 10 pick to bottom of the first round (similar to Aaron Rodgers). The hand-sized drama should not hang over Pickett come draft day, so a team like the Saints could take a shot at grabbing him in the top 10 (if they trade up) or somewhere in the middle first round.
Behind Winston and Dalton, Pickett would be in an ideal situation to grow into becoming the Saints' eventual starting quarterback.