2019 Draft Needs: New Orleans Saints

The biggest need, the hidden need and what else the Saints should be looking for in the 2019 draft.
Publish date:

Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling are breaking down draft needs for all 32 teams. You can also see every team in a single post here.

Biggest Need: Center 
Max Unger’s unexpected retirement hurts, but fortunately, with Drew Brees’s pre-snap command, the Saints are not dependent on their center to set protections. Also, Unger’s replacement, Nick Easton, has underrated athleticism. He can be just fine alongside quality plus-sized guards like Andrus Peat and Larry Warford. That said, the Saints have always invested heavily in an interior O-line to keep the pocket clean for their 6-foot QB. With no other glaring needs to speak of, they can afford to trade up again this year if there’s a center they love.

Hidden Need: Strong Safety 
Vonn Bell is in the final year of his rookie deal. He’s not worth franchise-tagging, which means the Saints, who don’t have the best financial situation, will likely have to bid against 31 other teams to keep him. And the only depth behind Bell and free safety Marcus Williams right now is career-long backup Chris Banjo.

Also Looking For: Defensive End 
The Saints only activate three defensive ends on game day, so depth at this position is not crucial. But with Alex Okafor now in Kansas City, their current rotation has questions. Marcus Davenport is coming off a late-season Achilles injury. Mario Edwards Jr. is not an explosive edge bender and has looked more comfortable when playing inside. And being a healthy scratch in several contests last year, 2017 third-rounder Trey Hendrickson did not take a significant step forward. The only stable defensive end on the roster is Cameron Jordan.

Who They Can Get
The Saints spent their first-rounder in a trade-up to get Davenport last year, so their first scheduled selection of the 2019 draft is Pick 62. While top center Garrett Bradbury should be long gone at that point, there's a chance they can get Texas A&M's Erik McCoy or Mississippi State's Elgton Jenkins there. There's some depth at safety, and perhaps Washington's Taylor Rapp, who tested poorly but should still be considered a top-50 prospect, will make it deep into the second. If not Rapp, Iowa's Amani Hooker would provide a nice complement to Williams. The late second is a good range for a couple guys who profile as quality complementary pass rushers, such as Michigan's Chase Winovich, Miami's Joe Jackson, Old Dominion's Oshane Ximines or Iowa's Anthony Nelson.

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.