The New Orleans Saints finalized the draft process by adding the following players this past weekend:
1st Round, 11th Overall: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
1st Round, 19th Overall: Trevor Penning, LT, Northern Iowa
2nd Round, 49th Overall: Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee
5th Round, 161st Overall: D’Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State
6th Round, 194th Overall: Jordan Jackson, DT, Air Force
The first round in particular was a night the team won’t soon forget.
Most viewed receiver and tackle a the two biggest needs on the roster and the Saints were able to land two top 20 prospects at those positions.
The Saints needed to give up their 3rd and 4th round picks, along with 16th overall, to move up to 11 and secure Olave, and it was a good thing they did because the Lions gave up 32nd and 34th overall to move up one spot behind the Saints at 12 to take Alabama receiver Jameson Williams.
Olave has long been mocked by many to the Saints in the first round. When you consider the Saints were the worst passing offense in the league last year, in large part due to the lack of receiver star power, this addition is critical. Coupled with the return of another Ohio State legend, Michael Thomas, the Saints will have a lot more firepower on the perimeter this season.
Olave is a tremendous route runner with excellent speed and hands. Look at him as a better version than former Saints star Lance Moore.
In Penning, the Saints landed one of the most athletic players in the entire draft.
His 9.95 RAS score out of 10 was 11th best in the draft and second best among tackles. By comparison, Terron Armstead who was widely viewed as the biggest physical freak the Saints have ever had at tackle scored a 9.58 RAS score. Penning will need some technique refinement but the good news is that in Doug Marrone the Saints may have the best offensive line position coach in the NFL. If anyone can get the most out of Penning, it’s the Saints.
Despite being 6-foot-7 and 325 pounds, Penning has elite speed and agility for his position. His strength is also elite. All the tools are there for him to be a Pro Bowl player and he is also complimented for his intelligence.
With Alontae Taylor the Saints get a long and fast cover corner that will give them depth at the position while immediately being able to contribute on special teams.
The Saints do have starters entrenched with Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo on the outside, paired with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson at nickel and veteran Bradley Roby as a reserve. This pick is a little bit more puzzling as it doesn’t seem like a clear need. But Taylor is very talented and has the potential to develop into an NFL starter with time.
Late in the draft the Saints secured the “Jackson Brothers,” as Dennis Allen labelled the two unrelated players.
D’Marco is also a special teams player that will try to find a reserve role. Jordan of Air Force is perhaps more intriguing as he produced 7.5 sacks last season from the defensive tackle position. There is a place to be found on this team as a 3rd down interior pass rushing specialist if he can show value there.
At the end of the day this draft will clearly be judged by the two players picked in the first round.
As things stand currently the Saints have no first round pick in 2023 and they gave up a lot of capital to make sure they could secure both. This success of both this season, and the foreseeable future, seem completely linked to how Olave and Penning produce as players. The Saints are all in on these two becoming stars.
Andrew Juge is the co-host of “The Saints Happy Hour Podcast.”