Offensive Line A Virtual Lock For the Saints, But When?

Offensive line figures to be the most glaring need for the Saints, and the options are plentiful.
Mar 3, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State offensive lineman Olu Fashanu (OL18) during the 2024
Mar 3, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State offensive lineman Olu Fashanu (OL18) during the 2024 / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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We're officially two weeks away from opening night of the NFL Draft. The Saints are going to be a team to watch, as they typically work the phones during the day and see where things are at heading into the evening. New Orleans is obviously a team that is no stranger to trading picks, and at No. 14, they could certainly be looking to move up.

We're wrapping up our look the Saints offensive positions to see why or why not New Orleans should consider drafting them. Our final look is at the offensive line, which seems like a virtual lock for them to draft.

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Current Tackle Depth Chart: Ryan Ramczyk, Trevor Penning, Landon Young, Oli Udoh, Tommy Kramer

Current IOL Depth Chart: Erik McCoy (Center), Cesar Ruiz, James Hurst, Nick Saldiveri, Mark Evans II

Saints Draft Prospect Outlook - Offensive Lineman

  • Day 1 Options: Olu Fashanu (Penn State), JC Latham (Alabama), Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State), Troy Fautanu (Washington), Tyler Guyton (Oklahoma), Patrick Paul (Houston)
  • Day 2 Options: Amarius Mims (Georgia), Cooper Beebe (Kansas State), Jordan Morgan (Arizona), Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon), Brandon Coleman (TCU), Roger Rosengarten (Washington), Zak Zinter (Michigan), Mason McCormick (South Dakota State), Kingsley Suamataia (BYU), Layden Robinson (TAMU), Kiran Amegadjie (Yale)
  • Day 3 Options: Sataoa Laumea (Utah), Christian Haynes (UCONN), Blake Fisher (Notre Dame), Javon Foster (Mizzou), Walter Rouse (Oklahoma), Christian Jones (Texas), Christian Mahogany (Boston College), Garret Greenfield (South Dakota State), Dominick Puni (Kansas), Matt Goncalves (Pitt), Caedan Wallace (Penn State), Frank Crum (Wyoming), Ethan Driskell (Marshall), Nathan Thomas (UL-Lafayette), Prince Pines (Tulane)
  • UDFAs: Anim Dankwah (Howard), Jalen Sundell (North Dakota State), X'Zauvea Gadlin (Liberty), Josiah Ezirim (Eastern Kentucky), C.J. Hanson (Holy Cross)

THE CASE FOR DRAFTING

The Saints are going to select offensive linemen in this draft, but the question is where? This is a very tackle rich draft and New Orleans could actually get some strong prospects on Day 2. There's even some gems in the later rounds to keep tabs on. Of course, they are without a 3rd and 4th Round pick, but that's never stopped them before and is actually a little easier to come by than you think. We'll explore that in a later column.

In theory, New Orleans would go offensive line at No. 14 and be happy about it. Their team philosophy is to build from the trenches within, so it fits the bill on what the Saints would do in the draft. The glaring need is also why Olu Fashanu is the prominent mock pick for the team right now. However, if they were to go luxury at No. 14 and then go to the trenches at No. 45, that could land them someone like Amarius Mims, Jordan Morgan or Kingsley Suamataia. It honestly depends on how the board falls.

The main point here is that there are too many unknowns right now for the Saints. There's a very solid case to be made for them to double down and get their left guard and tackle situation set.

THE CASE FOR NOT DRAFTING

There's really no solid arguments here on why New Orleans shouldn't draft a lineman. In fact, they'll most likely come away with several between their picks and the undrafted process. The Saints are one more bad injury away from being in a real mess with what they have. Just think about it. Uli Odoh is coming off a season-ending quad injury. Nick Saldiveri is coming off of shoulder surgery. Trevor Penning's outlook is uncertain, as well as Ryan Ramczyk with his knee.

Cesar Ruiz and Erik McCoy are the actual knowns right now for new offensive line coach John Benton. Veteran James Hurst returning to the mix is helpful, but his exact role remains to be seen. Hypothetically, New Orleans could field a starting offensive line if they were to play a game right now. However, the durability and stability of the line is questionable at best.

There are players that are still on the market that the Saints could obviously sign to help with their situation. Meckhi Becton is one of the big names that are still out there, and the ties to Benton would obviously make sense. Dalton Risner has ties to Klint Kubiak and Andrew Janocko, so that's another to keep an eye on. Other veterans like Donovan Smith or David Bakhtiari could also fit the bill if the team needs a left tackle, but again, that's not saying that would be the right move. Most of these moves probably wouldn't happen until we get into June.

We rated this position as critical when looking at the state of the team early in the offseason. New Orleans simply has to get this right. Having a strong and stable offensive line is paramount for a Klint Kubiak style of offense, and you can't say that the Saints have that right now. Hopefully, that has a much better outlook post-draft.


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John Hendrix

JOHN HENDRIX