The 2021 season was one of transition for the Saints.
Drew Brees retired after the 2020 campaign, leaving a massive hole at quarterback in New Orleans. Jameis Winston began 2021 as the starter, but only lasted seven games before tearing his ACL.
The Saints went on to finish the season with a 9-8 record and missed the playoffs, mainly because of their struggles under center. New Orleans was rumored to be in on several big-name quarterbacks this offseason but ultimately missed out on them, which led them to bring Winston back on a two-year deal.
The Saints also hope to bolster their offense with a healthy Michael Thomas, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury.
Saints NFL Draft Picks 2022
- Round 1, Pick 11 (11th Overall): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
- Round 1, Pick 19 (19th Overall): Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
- Round 2, Pick 17 (49th Overall): Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee
- Round 5, Pick 18 (161st Overall): D’Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State
- Round 6, Pick 15 (194th Overall): Jordan Jackson, DT, Air Force
The Saints had just five picks in this draft, which was the second-fewest in the NFL, only ahead of Miami. With several key positions in place, like quarterback, it was crucial to fill needs on the offensive line, defensive line, and at wide receiver.
After starting off last season strong, Jameis Winston appeared to be the answer for this Saints team. The unfortunate ACL tear occurred in Week 8 against his former team, Tampa Bay. This offense has now some weapons and will be fun to watch when Winston comes back.
One of those weapons is Chris Olave, a very solid wideout who like Thomas, also attended Ohio State. The addition of Olave with the 11th overall pick makes this a solid group, especially after signing veteran Jarvis Landry in free agency. The Saints will go from having hardly any consistent wide receivers last year to potentially a nice trio in 2022.
Trevor Penning was another pick that I liked a lot, but after that, some choices were questionable. Alontae Taylor was projected to be a third or fourth-round player, so that one was a bit of a reach. The Saints must really like what they saw out of him because he profiles to be more of a special teams player.
Even Jordan Jackson in the sixth round felt like a bit of a reach. This was Dennis Allen‘s first draft as the New Orleans head coach, and overall it went well, but there were some head-scratchers too.
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Note: The Saints NFL Draft predictions below were published before the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pre-Draft Saints NFL Mock Draft Predictions 2022
- Round 1, Pick 16 (16th Overall): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
- Round 1 Pick 19 (19th Overall): Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
- Round 2, Pick 17 (49th Overall): Bernard Raimann, OL, Central Michigan
- Round 3, Pick 34 (98th Overall): John Ridgeway, DL, Arkansas
More Possible Saints Draft Targets: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh; Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi; Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Pre-Draft Saints Team Needs 2022
1. Wide Receiver
Even if Thomas is healthy, the Saints clearly need to add talent at wide receiver. The top options behind him on the depth chart are Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Kawaan Baker. Winston has a big arm, so they need to add weapons around him to help take advantage of it.
2. Offensive Tackle
The Saints now have a big hole to fill on their offensive line after left tackle Terron Armstead signed a five-year deal with the Miami Dolphins. Even if they don’t select an offensive tackle in the first round, expect them to address the position within the first few rounds of the draft.
Winston is unlikely to be the long-term solution at quarterback for the Saints. In the six games he finished last season, he threw for 230+ yards just once. He also only attempted 25+ passes twice, which was likely by design as the Saints tried to limit his interceptions.
They also have newly-acquired veteran Andy Dalton, the versatile Taysom Hill, and 2021 fourth-round pick Ian Book at the position, so while this is a long-term position of need for New Orleans, it might not necessarily be addressed in this year’s draft.
Saints May Also Consider Drafting: Defensive Line, Running Back