It’s hard to believe there was some talk that the New Orleans Saints were looking to take a quarterback with the 12th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The passing game is not the major issue with this franchise.
No one would have batted an eye had all five picks been on the defensive side of the ball. Frankly, they should have been and if general manager Mickey Loomis had traded for more picks, nobody would have blamed him.
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This year’s draft class was solid, if not spectacular. The first three picks could all start in week one. The last two are a bit of a head scratcher, but depth on a roster in this league is always a good thing.
Here is a look at all five picks the Saints make with my analysis.
Round One, pick 12: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
This was the pick of many mock drafts and for good reason. The Saints need help on the defensive line and Rankins was decidedly better than the other defensive tackles in this draft class.
The best thing about Rankins is he can help in run defense and is versatile enough to help in pass coverage.
The thing I love about him is his ability to move around the line and has plenty of upside to him. So much has been made about the fact the Saints defense was one of the worst in the NFL last season, so all aspects of the starting unit needed help. The Saints brass knew it needed to start from the front and work back to the secondary.
Rankins is one of those building block type of players who will get better as he gets older and could make an immediate impact on a defense that needs a new identity.
Round Two, pick 47: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
I love what Mike Triplett of ESPN said about Thomas. The only strike against Thomas is he does not play on the defensive side of the ball.
Personally, I had Thomas ranked above some of the other wide receivers expected to be taken ahead of him based on his ability and the program he played in. Ohio State has been a program to produce solid NFL wideouts over the years and Thomas will be added to that list. Along with Brandin Cooks and Willie Sneed, Thomas will give Drew Brees plenty of options in the passing game as the Saints move towards another wide receiver era.
If you want speed, then Thomas is not the player you draft. If you want a dependable pair of hands and someone who can run precision routes, he is the guy for your offense. He could prove to be a go-to receiver early on in the New Orleans passing game.
Round Two, pick 61: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
The Saints liked the Thomas pick so much, they stayed with it and took Bell who should help bolster New Orleans’ secondary immediately.
I had Bell as a possibly late first round pick, but he “fell” to the Saints here and is in the right place to become an impactful player early on.
He is one of the best cover safeties in this draft, which is good considering the Saints play against divisional opponents with plenty of speed to burn. He probably also factors into the team’s return game and special teams unit as well.
Another thing I like about this kid is how confident he is – especially when it comes to his ability and what lies ahead of him in the NFL. Ohio State had one of the better defenses in college football last season. Bell was one of the reasons it was so successful.
This is one of the steals of the entire draft. Great value at this spot.
Round Four, pick 120*: David Onyemata, DT, Manitoba
Where? Admittedly, I did not know much about this kid who was taken in the fourth round, so I did a little research.
I liked what I found out.
The buzz on him from ESPN.com and other draft reports is he has great power and strength. His 33 bench-press reps at his pro day would have tied for the most of any defensive lineman at the combine. And if anyone knows about anything with this defense, it’s that it got manhandled last season.
I am not sure Onyemata can make an impact on this team this season. Yes, he is a project. I am not sure he was worth a fourth-round pick, especially when other players were on the board.
This is one of those picks that will just have to simmer a bit and see if it becomes a sleeper selection that pays off handsomely.
Round Seven, pick 237: Daniel Lasco, RB, California
One of those picks we could ask, “Why” about.
There are plenty of running backs on the Saints roster, which leads me to ask where he belongs.
Lasco played special teams in college, which will be helpful in him trying to make this team. He is solid at 6’ and 209 pounds and could play some fullback, in my opinion.
His Combine numbers were impressive. His broad jump of 11 feet and three inches was the best ever for a running back at the combine. And his vertical leap of 41.5 inches was tied with defensive back Jalen Ramsey for the best of any player at any position this year. That’s saying something.
Unless he is a special teams standout, he could have a real hard time making this roster and could become a practice squad player.