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Team needs: New Orleans Saints

Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis AP

With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. Up next is the team with the No. 15 overall selection, the New Orleans Saints. They’re short a second-rounder from the bounty penalty, which takes away a chance to fix the worst defense in league history.

Outside linebacker: While he’s certainly a useful part, the fact the addition of Victor Butler was deemed so important is telling. He can help teach new coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 system, and has been a good pass-rusher in spot duty behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in Dallas. But the Saints had no one to speak of to fill the role previously, as everyone else would have been a square peg into a round hole after years of acquiring 4-3 players.

Adding a pass-rusher with some pop will be crucial to fixing the side which gave up more yards last year than any other team, and local product Barkevious Mingo could fit in nicely (plus, it gives me a cheap excuse to write the name Barkevious Mingo, which is wonderful).

Offensive tackle: When you’ve invested as heavily in a quarterback as the Saints have, protecting him is a must. But the Saints have a hole at left tackle after Jermon Bushrod followed his old position coach Aaron Kromer to Chicago, and the only options now are backup Charles Brown and former draft bust Jason Smith. Brown’s an acceptable fill-in, but you’d prefer to have a better plan than that.

Brees has a quick enough delivery to buy them a little time (and excuse a lower grade of offensive line), but they need to upgrade here, and have done research on tackles who will be drafted far higher than 15th.

Wide receiver: It’s still a good group, but adding someone with speed would certainly help. Though he’s been a disappointment in San Diego, Robert Meachem played a specific role for them, and backfilling with someone who can stretch the field is a need.

Safety: They brought in Jim Leonhard, who is a fine backup and spot player. But they need to find a playmaker for the middle of the field, to replace the pedestrian Roman Harper and Malcom Jenkins as soon as possible.

The Saints can’t possibly fix all their defensive issues in a single offseason, even if they had all their picks, which they don’t. They made a quick run at cornerback Keenan Lewis and signed defensive end Kenyon Coleman, but need more help there as well. They also need to find a young quarterback, as backup Chase Daniel split for Kansas City.

Having Brees reunited with back-from-Elba coach Sean Payton gives them a little flexibility there, as the expected offensive uptick will limit the need for Ryan to turn the defense into the 1985 Bears. But the Saints made history last year with their porosity, and now they’re changing the scheme to one that’s an odd fit for the existing personnel.

Maybe that’s a good thing, but to expect there won’t be a rough transition seems unrealistic.

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19 Responses to “Team needs: New Orleans Saints”
  1. scratchdad says: Apr 15, 2013 9:17 AM

    They need their quarterback to stop talking…

  2. tommysaint1 says: Apr 15, 2013 9:19 AM

    The Goodell bowl is over. Saints will be back to form, now that there aren’t any NFL execs trying too hard to limit the Saints potential.

    Sorry ATL, you had your window. Rog tried to give you a free season, too bad, back in 2nd.

  3. tv426 says: Apr 15, 2013 9:19 AM

    Actually, the D personnel fit this scheme better than the scheme employed last year. Last year, they tried to play a read and react type D. That was the square peg in the round hole that was a disaster!

    In previous years, they played a 4-3 but it was an attack 4-3. Big difference. All their drafted D players were attack oriented.

    Hence the change in DC and the hiring of an attack minded coach in Ryan.

    The D will be significantly improved as it will turn people loose who are used to being turned loose.

  4. footballfan12289 says: Apr 15, 2013 9:22 AM

    The picture at the top is Sean Payton being held back from Goodell after he found out he was suspended all of last year.

    “Let me at him” – Sean Payton

  5. johnathanmoore04 says: Apr 15, 2013 9:23 AM

    Saffold with 4th rounder. Honey badger with 3rd and mingo will definitely help.

  6. greenwhodat26 says: Apr 15, 2013 9:26 AM

    Jordan, Bunkley, Wilson, and Gallette are all better suited for the 3-4. Even Lofton, Hawthorne, Hicks, and Will Smith(at this stage in his career) seem like solid fits in the 3-4. I’d say they’ve been signing/drafting 3-4 personnel while trying to employ a 4-3.

  7. bayouranch says: Apr 15, 2013 9:33 AM

    You really should do your homework, the saints “fit” this new scheme, they used it under Greg Williams, like his, this system will be multiple, and we have players that fit the new system that need more playing time (Galette, Wilson) and this will give it to them. Our corners played poorly in a zone system, but will look better this year, Safety needs to improve. I’m not too worried about replacing Bushrod, he was a below avg tackle anyway.

  8. doubleogator says: Apr 15, 2013 9:36 AM

    They have a speed receiver with Joe Morgan, who played very well at the end of last year. Charles Brown is definitely not the answer at left tackle as he seems to get beat like a drum whenever he’s in the lineup. Pass rusher/left tackle biggest needs, and a play making safety would be nice too…

  9. gbmickey says: Apr 15, 2013 9:40 AM

    Honesty and ethics are the major team needs.

  10. nathpz says: Apr 15, 2013 10:04 AM

    Wide receiver: It’s still a good group, but adding someone with speed would certainly help. Though he’s been a disappointment in San Diego, Robert Meachem played a specific role for them, and backfilling with someone who can stretch the field is a need.

    Yeah, Meachem played the role of “Guy who has all the physical talent in the world but can’t crack the rotation because he can’t play football.”

    Joe Morgan is already a better deep threat. Nick Toon is coming off IR and if he’s ready I expect to see him in the mix as well.

  11. SeenThisB4 says: Apr 15, 2013 10:04 AM

    The Saints defense is going to be substanially better than they were last year. Going from last to 20 isn’t that much of a leap, but it should be competitive enough to allow Brees and Payton to challenge for the division crown.

  12. ningenito78 says: Apr 15, 2013 10:45 AM

    Malcolm Jenkins is much better than he played last year. Harper should have been bulked up an made into an OLB years ago and it’s probably too late. But most of the defensive linemen should transition well to the 3-4. I agree that if Saffold could be had with a 4th rd pick go for it. Especially of they could replace that pick trading Ivory to the Jets.

  13. melkipershero says: Apr 15, 2013 11:03 AM

    As a Rams fan if we deal Saffold for a 4th Id be pissed

  14. 4thqtrsaint says: Apr 15, 2013 11:11 AM

    Agreed with every post about our players fitting the scheme better. GW ran 3-4 fronts quite a bit. Our D could have been better then, if Williams dialed back the constant blitzes.

  15. petedutcher says: Apr 15, 2013 11:29 AM

    Biggest need is a new hit list and drugs. Only way they stay on top now.

  16. musicman495 says: Apr 15, 2013 12:31 PM

    This post is the correct answer to the trivia question, “How much conventional wisdom can be squeezed into one pre-NFL draft post without having to do any actual reporting?”

  17. goawayeverybody says: Apr 15, 2013 1:26 PM

    Sigh. Why list two things the Saints don’t need?

    Saints are stacked at wide receiver. Joe Morgan will take on a bigger role this year and we get Nick Toon back. Plus, Devery could still be on the team and of course there is Marques Colston and Lance Moore. Plus we just added tight end Benjamin Watson.

    OLB? Really? Sigh.

    Anyway, the two needs of the Saints are OT and CB or possibly SS. Keenan Lewis will be an excellent corner for the Saints and the defense will improve immeasurably under Ryan and upon getting back Sean Payton.

  18. johnclaytonsponytail says: Apr 15, 2013 4:37 PM

    I say we draft all LSU players from the state so we have players that actually care about and are fans of the team.

  19. dat504 says: Apr 15, 2013 6:01 PM

    It should be a requirement to research a team before you report on them. The Saints have 3 guys on the roster that are 3-4 edge rushers, Joe Morgan has taken Meechem’s spot as the speed receiver, left tackle isn’t the premier OL position with the Saints(short QB needs better guards than tackles), the secondary is much better with a pass rush. Please research before you report!!!!

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