Their first-round pick is gone in last year’s trade to acquire Mark Ingram. Their second-round pick is gone as punishment for the bounty scandal. The Saints don’t pick until No. 89 overall, and they’ll need to make the right calls long after the elite players are off the board to fill their draft needs.
Defensive line: The Saints’ great offense last year saw them win a lot of shootouts, covering up the problems on defense. But the problems were real, and the Saints need to get better at rushing the passer with the front four, and at stopping the run. A third-round defensive lineman is a strong possibility for the Saints, and they’d probably like to use two picks on the defensive line. This need will become even more severe if defensive end Will Smith is suspended for his role in the team’s bounty scandal.
Cornerback: Jabari Greer’s new contract means the Saints have their best cornerback locked up for three more years, but the departures of Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence in free agency mean cornerback is still a position where the Saints need some depth. A middle-round cornerback who can contribute on both defense and special teams would be ideal for New Orleans.
Wide receiver: The Saints have so many weapons in the passing game — Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson at receiver, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas at running back, Jimmy Graham at tight end — that receiver might not seem like a need at all. But the Saints’ passing game relies so heavily on having so many targets available for Drew Brees that they’d like to bring in another receiver to fill the void left by Robert Meachem, who averaged 15.5 yards a catch and scored six touchdowns last season.
The Saints’ needs could change at any moment with an announcement of lengthy suspensions for defensive starters, and the Saints’ greatest needs — getting Drew Brees under contract and getting the coaching staff going without Sean Payton — can’t be addressed in the draft. After so much bad news for the Saints this offseason, however, they’ll take any good players they can get in the draft.