2022 NFL Draft for the New Orleans Saints was intriguing on Day 1 with an offensive focus. The remainder of the team's selections clearly had Dennis Allen in mind by going all-defense and picking "tough, smart, and competitive" players.
2022 Saints Draft Grade = B-
The Saints swung for the fences and delivered big on the first night of the draft, to the delight of many fans. They addressed glaring needs, and their first selection alone of Chris Olave at 11th after trading up was more than enough to help this team in 2022. There's a lot to like about the Trevor Penning pick too at 19th, despite what you may have read or seen regarding the amount of penalties at Northern Iowa. Doug Maronne will get him coached up, and the battle at left tackle between him and James Hurst will be fun to watch.
New Orleans then went with a Day 2 pick that wasn't particularly popular in Alontae Taylor out of Tennessee, but looking closer at it only echoes the belief in the roster to compete. They didn't take a skill position, and Taylor will be a key special teams player. However, what has everyone stirred up is the 'experts' had a Round 3-4 grade on him. We have to remember that New Orleans wasn't going to pick for a long time, so their grading of Taylor must have been really high.
On Day 3, New Orleans took a very intriguing linebacker prospect in D'Marco Jackson. Again, the theme was special teams with the pick, and Jackson may be able to provide some key depth. With the last pick, they took Air Force's Jordan Jackson, who is going to have his work cut out for him with a very crowded interior defensive line. Out of all the picks, he's the one who has the most uphill battle.
Overall, the class gets a B- from me because of Day 1's moves. The way this offseason has played out for the team, they've done everything they felt to put the roster in a position to compete. There will undoubtedly be more competition in the inaugural Dennis Allen season, and he's got a lot to prove here. Day 2-3 picks are usually ones you have to reserve judgement on for at bit, but their Round 1 picks will shine, and that's what counts for New Orleans.
2022 Saints Draft Grade = B
Olave has been my guy for this team since December. He was the smoothest route runner of the receivers I watched and adds a big-play element to the offense. Penning's mauling style will endear himself to coaches and fans quickly. He’s got the feet and football IQ to rapidly develop better pass blocking technique.
The Saints deserve an A+ for the opening round, despite giving up some draft capital. I expected New Orleans to select a defensive back and a linebacker over the weekend, just not necessarily the names they ended up with.
Alontae Taylor looks like a Day 2 reach, but they obviously see something they like. D'Marco Jackson is a thumper that shows every down potential. Great value in the fifth round.
Jordan Jackson has the traits that the Saints value in defensive linemen - length, athleticism, and versatility. He’s definitely a project.
2022 Saints Draft Grade = B+
A day before the draft, I wrote how the Saints could “hit a home run” in the first round, listing five prospects they could select. Two of which were Olave and Penning, whom New Orleans ultimately selected. If the grades were based solely on the first round, it would not be easy not to give the Saints an A+.
However, there were two more days to grade, and there were question marks for the team’s selections, starting in the second round. CB Alonte Taylor seemed like a reach at pick 49, but there seems to be a plan for him as a versatile defensive back. But Dennis Allen told media following the selection that the team sees him as an outside corner which was not a significant area of need.
When it comes to the day three picks, most organizations look for special teams contributors or rotational prospects. New Orleans got just what with a pair of Jacksons.
They selected D’Marco Jackson from Appalachian State in Round 5 and Jordan from Air Force in round 6. Overall, New Orleans made it necessary to acquire multiple picks into the first round, then stayed aggressive to get their guy WR Chris Olave at 11th overall. For that, I grade the Saints 2022 Draft a B+.
Kyle T. Mosley
2022 Saints Draft Grade = B
New Orleans' first two draft selections were logical and filled definite needs for the team. Dennis Allen's description of his first two draft picks, Chris Olave and Trevor Penning, spoke volumes.
"Both of these players are our type of guys...They're Saints. Tough, they're smart, they're competitive. They're great team players. And so that was what really drew us to those players initially and certainly helped fill a little bit of a need and a couple of spots. So we felt great about what we're able to get accomplished."
If the Saints' draft ended after the first round, New Orleans would receive a well-earned A-. The minus was due to draft selections the team gave up after concerns Olave would be grabbed by another team - especially since Jameson Williams was still available.
Taylor at No. 139 in Round 2 became another Dennis Allen-type pick. The versatile cornerback has the potential to play at cornerback and safety. New Orleans couldn't ignore how Taylor could help in nickel packages or lined up against bigger and stronger tight ends in the NFC South like Kyle Pitts or Rob Gronkowski for his size and length.
After Taylor, relying on Mickey Loomis' and Jeff Ireland's scouting team became essential. These become "trust me" picks for the Saints in many terms.
Round 5 selection of linebacker D'Marco Jackson is a great value selection. The combination of his speed, size, and production at Appalachian State is what the Saints need in a linebacker since they haven't re-signed Kwon Alexander. Jackson must work on his coverage skills. Partnering him with Davis and Werner could be very interesting.
In the sixth round, New Orleans' final selection at No. 194 was another Jackson, defensive tackle Jordan Jackson. The Air Force product could become a hidden gem. Jackson's 6-4, 294-pound frame would give the Saints interior length would come in handy by tipping balls at the line of scrimmage. He can pressure the quarterback but must improve his run stop ability.
Dennis Allen's first NFL Draft as New Orleans' head coach was very productive. The running back and tight end positions were neglected to be addressed in the later rounds. Jordan Jackson was a bit of a reach, but you cannot ignore that the new head coach had his fingerprints all over these selections.
Solid picks in the early rounds, the rest, we shall see.
Read More Saints News
- Saints Expected to Make 'Aggressive Push' for Tyrann Mathieu
- Saints Announce Addition of 17 Undrafted Rookies
- Grading the Jordan Jackson Pick
- Saints Take Air Force's Jordan Jackson at 194th Overall
- Jameis Winston Graduates from Florida State University
- Saints Take Appalachian State's D'Marco Jackson at 161st Overall
- Grading the Alontae Taylor Pick
- Watch: Saints Drafting CB Alontae Taylor
- Saints Take Alontae Taylor at 49th Overall
- Deonte Harty Signs RFA Tender
- Dennis Allen on Olave and Penning: 'They're Saints,' 'Tough, Smart, Competitive'
- Grading the Saints' First Round Picks and Trade
- Saints Take Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning at 19th Overall
- DRAFT TRADE! Saints Take Chris Olave at 11th Overall After Trading with Commanders