Sean Payton

3 Biggest NFL Draft Needs for the Saints

The Saints have been busy this offseason, bringing in free agents Jared Cook, Malcolm Brown and Latavius Murray. These players will fill some key needs for New Orleans as the team prepares for the 2019 campaign. But there are still some holes the Saints' brass should look to fill before the start of camp. With free agency winding down, these needs will likely be addressed in the draft. Here are the three biggest needs facing the Saints as they approach the NFL Draft. 

3. Tight End

Adding Pro Bowl tight end, Jared Cook, during free agency will definitely help the Saints' already prolific passing game in 2019. The 32-year-old has not shown consistency during his playing days. Last season was the first of his 10-year career in which he caught more than 60 passes and scored at least five touchdowns. A young tight end could be worth a look for the Saints, though they don't have a first round pick this year. Some of the draft's top tight ends, including Alabama's Irv Smith Jr., Texas A&M's Jace Sternberger and Ole Miss's Dawson Knox, could still be around beyond the first round. 

2. Pass Rusher

The Saints were one of the best teams at getting after the passer last season. But they lost two key players along their defensive line for the 2019 season. Sheldon Rankins suffered a torn achilles and is likely to miss the entire 2019 season, while Alex Okafor joined the Chiefs in free agency. The Saints were able to mitigate some of their losses by signing Malcolm Brown but a hole remains at the defensive end position, opposite Cam Jordan. The Saints should be keeping tabs on players like Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson, Michigan's Chase Winovich and Old Dominion's Oshane Ximines.   

1. Wide Receiver

Michael Thomas is one of the best wideouts in football, but after Thomas, the Saints' second leading receiver was Tre'Quan Smith, who  caught 28 passes in 2018. Thomas was the clear-cut No. 1 option last year, being targeted 147 times, so the Saints could target a young receiver to alleviate pressure on Thomas. The top receivers of the class aren't expected to go until the late-first or early second round. South Carolina's Deebo Samuel, Georgia's Riley Ridley and Arizona State's N'Keal Harry could all be in play for New Orleans.