The 2017 Saints’ draft class could go down as one of the best in the last 20 years. They have set themselves up with tremendous young talent and landed both offensive and defensive Rookies of the Year. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Saints need to continue to build depth on defense and finally look to the future at quarterback.
Round 1, Pick 27: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Saints must get more athletic at linebacker and none may be more athletic in this draft than Rashaan Evans. After just missing out on drafting Reuben Foster last year, they get the next Alabama MLB. Evans has blazing speed and can line up inside or outside. The Saints drastically improved their defense a year ago with their draft class and Evans could continue that upward trend. Expect him to blow up at the Combine.
Round 3, Pick 91: Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Could the star of Senior Bowl week be the QB to take over for Drew Brees? The Saints absolutely must take a QB in this draft, and they grab Kyle Lauletta here. Lauletta stole the show in Mobile and would have no trouble adjusting to Sean Payton’s complex offense. Drew Brees is known as being super competitive in practice and the film room, but Lauletta has the intangibles to handle it.
ANOTHER ONE!@kylelauletta throws his 3rd TD of the game.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 27, 2018
Round 4, Pick 123: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
In my opinion the Saints won the Jimmy Graham trade by acquiring center Max Unger in 2015, but grabbing Frank Ragnow in the 4th would be a great pick. I could see someone snatching up Ragnow in the 3rd but here he slides to the 4th. Ragnow was a 3-year starter at Arkansas and a team captain. Ragnow has great strength, so when he gets his hands on you he wins. The only concerns I see from scouts are his lack of lateral movement that could cause problems facing athletic defensive lines. With Saints’ OL reserve Senio Kelemete set to be a free agent, Ragnow could provide depth along a solid OL.
Round 5, Pick 138: Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss
Cam Jordan needs a pass rushing partner and Breeland Speaks can be every bit of that. He led SEC defensive lineman with 67 tackles in 2017. The Saints got solid production from soon-to-be free agent Alex Okafor and rookie Trey Hendrickson in 2017, but both battled injuries most of the year. Speaks would give them another big body to go with Jordan and Sheldon Rankins on the DL.
Round 5, Pick 155: Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
Kenny Vaccaro is set to be a free agent and it would be a shock if he were to return to New Orleans in 2018. The Saints landed a future star at safety last year with Marcus Williams (forget about the Minnesota ending). Pairing a tackling machine like Quin Blanding with Williams to go along with cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley would give the Saints one of the best young secondaries in the league.
Round 6, Pick 175: Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State
The Saints need to look to add another big-play receiver to go with Michael Thomas. Thomas is officially a star in the league, but Sean Payton’s offense has always prided itself on having as many options as possible. Jaleel Scott is a big target that can stretch the field and was a great target in the red zone for New Mexico State. That’s a perfect fit for Drew Brees.
— 1 Nation Under Raiders (@Rollicking_R8R) January 26, 2018
Round 6, Pick 187: Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida
Does he only have one hand? Yes. Can he flat out make plays? Absolutely. Turn on the tape and you’ll see that Shaquem Griffin just gets to the ball. The Saints had an overhaul on defense last season, and while stars Cam Jordan and Marshon Lattimore deservedly get all the attention, it was overachieving guys like Ken Crawley and Tyler Davison that defensive coordinator Dennis Allen loves to plug into his defense. Griffin fits that mold.
Round 7, Pick 219: Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan
Coby Fleener has not lived up to the big contract he signed in 2016 and Sean Payton’s offense is at its best when they have a TE that can stretch the seam. Tyler Conklin checks all the boxes Payton looks for, so maybe the Saints can catch lightning in a bottle twice with a former basketball player turning to football like they did with Jimmy Graham. However, there are foot injury concerns with Conklin.