Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers is tackled short of the first down by Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster #10 and defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick #29. Foster could be an early pick by the Saints in the 2017 NFL Draft. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
The New Orleans Saints have seven picks in the NFL Draft, including No. No. 11 and No. 32 in the first round April 27 in Philadelphia.
The beat goes on for quarterback Drew Brees, who needs just 3,389 yards in 2017 to become the third player in league history (Peyton Manning, Brett Favre) to reach 70,000 passing yards for a career. But Brees won't have productive target Brandin Cooks, who was traded to the Patriots and enabled the Saints to add a second first-round pick.
As good as Brees is, he turned 38 in January, so it wouldn't be a shock to see the Saints look to add a quarterback in the draft.
Most important is that they continue to upgrade the defense and running game to provide the support Brees needs.
Here is a look at the Saints' five-year draft record with roster tallies reflecting totals as of the end of the 2016 season. Below that are key personnel moves made this year and the team's current needs heading into this draft and our projection for all their 2017 picks.
FIVE-YEAR DRAFT BREAKDOWN
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2012 . .2013 . .2014 . .2015 . .2016
TOTAL PICKS . . . .5 . . . . . .5 . . . . .6 . . . . .9 . . . .5
STARTERS . . . . . .0 . . . . . .2 . . . . .1 . . . . .4 . . . .2
BACKUPS . . . . . .0 . . . . . .0 . . . . .0 . . . . .3 . . . .3
OTHER TEAMS . . .3 . . . . .2 . . . . .2 . . . . .0 . . . .0
OUT OF LEAGUE . .2 . . . . .1 . . . . .3 . . . . .2 . . .0
Top three draft needs
1. Defensive end: The Saints, who had just 30 sacks last season, re-signed Darryl Tapp and brought in Alex Okafor, but may still want to add a young, speedy pass rusher to pair with steady two-time Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan.
2. Cornerback: If the Saints can't acquire Malcolm Butler before the draft, they're extremely likely to go for a cornerback with the 11th or 32nd pick. They could also wait and hope one in a deep draft pool lasts until the second round.
3. Running back: With Mark Ingram having another good season last year, the Saints feel better about this position. Yet, they could use a shifty satellite back -- a la Darren Sproles - who will be a major threat coming out of the backfield.
Below is a list of every pick for the Saints in the 2017 NFL Draft, with players suggested by NFLDraftScout.com Sr. Analyst Dane Brugler. Who would you take? Let us know in comments.
Round and overall pick number listed, along with player, position, school, height, weight and 40-yard dash time. (* - indicates compensatory pick)
1/11: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama (6-0, 229, 4.60)
1/32: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame (6-4, 233, 4.83)
2/42: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA (6-0, 206, 4.35)
3/76: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova (6-7, 289, 4.83)
3/*103: Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida (5-11, 213, 4.56)
6/196: Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah (6-3, 274, 4.73)
7/229: Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse (6-1, 208, 4.45)
Now it's your turn. NFLDraftScout.com is ready to help with its list of the top 1,000 prospects in this draft.
--Howard Balzer and TSX NFL team insiders contributed to this analysis.