Which New Orleans Saints team will show up to start the 2013 season? The one recovered from a year of controversy? The one that now has it’s head coach, Sean Payton, back on the sidelines after a year’s suspension? Or, will it be the one that struggled at the beginning of 2013 and never recovered?
This is a season where Payton may be in store for the toughest coaching job of his career. While players like Drew Brees and Marques Colston lead a still-powerful offense are still on the roster, there are missing pieces to the puzzle both on offense and defense.
Conventional wisdom is that this team will try to rebuild the defense and add more offensive firepower to a team that looked out of sync as the season started and could not catch up to make a playoff run.
The Saints only have five picks this year, with its most pressing needs on the defensive line and in the secondary. According to NOLA.com, Barkevious Mingo appears to be high on this team’s draft board. A team like the New York Jets may look to add Mingo with the ninth overall selection. Could a trade be in order? Hard to imagine that might happen since the lack of picks and players to put a package together is ever present.
Here is a look at the five draft picks who could be on the Saints’ radar come April 25.
First round (No. 15 overall): Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah. While he was suspected of having a heart issue after the NFL Combine, Lotulelei has been cleared to play in the NFL. That means if he were available here at 15th overall, he would be a steal for the Saints. I personally think when the dust settles, Lotulelei will be the best player who comes out of this draft.
Third round (No. 75) - Shawn Williams, Safety, Georgia. Another Bulldog who will succeed in the NFL. According to cbssportsline.com, Williams "Impressive physical specimen with a stout, athletic build. Looks more like a linebacker than a defensive back and plays with the controlled aggression and physicality to match. Shows his comfort near the line of scrimmage in his vision and willingness to take on and shed blockers." He could challenge for a starting spot and help on special teams.
Fourth round (No. 109) - Jordan Reed, Tight End, Florida. It may not be a "need" pick for this team, but Sean Peyton will not miss a chance to add a scoring threat to this team. Reed provides the team a nice frame at 6'3" and 236 pounds, good hands and someone who can play fullback, receiver and tight end. The Saints are still a huge offensive threat to the entire NFL, but Reed is just too talented to pass up.
Fifth round (No. 144) -Xavier Nixon, Tackle, Florida. Another Gator in New Orleans. I think Nixon slides a bit and falls into the Saints' lap. Nixon picks up blitzes well and has shown improvement while in Gainesville. He will provide great depth on the line. He has a huge frame that will prove to be a huge help to him with quick ends and rushing linebackers.
Sixth round (No. 183) - Adrian Bushell, Cornerback, Louisville. He was part of the Cardinals defense that shut down Florida in the Sugar Bowl. As a senior he finished second in the Big East with 14 passes defended, adding 1 interception and 62 tackles. He will make the team, stick and help on special teams.