NFL Draft experts grade the New Orleans Saints and their 2020 NFL Draft Class of C/G Cesar Ruiz, LB Zack Baun, TE Adam Trautman, and QB Tommy Stevens.
New Orleans had a productive 2020 NFL Draft this past weekend. Saints Assistant GM Jeff Ireland and his staff of college scouts assembled terabytes of data on college players for GM Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton to review and consider as potential draftees. After all of the hours of interviews, travel, meetings and debates, Ireland gave the Saints brass the necessary information on C/G Cesar Ruiz, LB Zack Baun, TE Adam Trautman, and QB Tommy Stevens to become the Saints 2020 Draft Class.
Grading the Saints selections has varied from the NFL Draft analysts and experts. Here are a few of their grades and opinions on the Saints rookies:
New Orleans Saints 2020 Draft Class Notes from Mike Detillier
1st: #24 - Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
3rd Rd: #74 - Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
3rd Rd: #105 - Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
7th Rd: #240 - Tommy Stevens, QB, Mississippi State
Saints News Network: B
- John Hendrix: B-
- Bob Rose: B-
- Brendan Boylan: A
- Kyle T. Mosley: B (I would have given the Saints an A with the first 3 draft picks)
The only questionable pick for our panel was QB Tommy Stevens from Mississippi State University.
Sports Illustrated: C-
Our SI colleague Andy Benoit analysis of the Saints in this draft:
"The two questions with Ruiz: When will he play? And where will he play? As far as the when: Right guard Larry Warford is in the final year of his contract and the team could actually save $8.5 million in cap space by cutting him now. That, however, would mean $5 million in dead money on the books, plus Warford is only 28 and is still playing at a high level. It’s entirely possible Ruiz could develop from the bench in Year One.
The where question is even more interesting. Left guard Andrus Peat was just signed to a big second contract and seems entrenched at that position, which means Ruiz will either play right guard or center. Ruiz says he is more comfortable at center but that’s the job held by 2019 second-rounder Erik McCoy (who also cost New Orleans this year’s second-round pick). McCoy is coming off a solid rookie season."
NFL Network: A-
Chad Reuter's Saints Draft analysis: "The Saints gave up the bulk of their Day 3 picks (one went to the Giants in the Eli Apple acquisition in 2018) to get an excellent value in Trautman. They also traded a future third-round pick to get another great value in Baun, a typical Sean Payton move...They did not get a cornerback or receiver, but the team's depth there should be fine -- especially with the addition of top undrafted free agents at those spots."
Mel Kiper said "The Saints treat drafts differently than every other team. Not worse, just differently. They're totally fine trading future picks to move up to get the guy they want."
He finished with "New Orleans tried for quality over quantity here, but it's tough for a class with four picks to break into the B range."
CBS Sports: B+
Pete Prisco graded the Saints in a interesting way this year. Many experts like the Ruiz pick, but Prisco put another spin for the Saints.
Pro Football Focus: B
PFF evaluated the Trautman trade: Trautman cost the Saints a lot of draft capital. New Orleans traded picks Nos. 130, 169, 203 and 244 to the Vikings for pick No. 105 and the opportunity to draft Trautman.
The Score Crow: A
The Saints had a very good draft as they prioritized quality over quantity. They addressed needs by getting replacements for Cook and Warford. They also took care of the glaring need for a linebacker, and got an absolute steal, by drafting Baun in the third round. The move to get back into the draft and take Stevens was curious but understandable. He is an exceptional athlete and if anyone can put him into a position to succeed, it’s Payton.
Mike Tagliere of Fantasy Pros wrote: "This is one of the shortest draft lists in recent memory, as the Saints made just four picks the entire draft. Don’t forget they made just five last year, too. Ruiz was expected to be a first-round pick, though I didn’t like him as much as some. Baun was a value in the third round, as he wasn’t expected to get out of the second round. He’ll contribute in 2020, which is important considering the Saints are “in-it-to-win-it.” Trautman is a high-upside pick for the long term, though. He comes from a small school and is still learning the position. The Saints had a fine draft."
Overall, most sites have the Saints at either a B or C. I graded the Saints 2020 Draft Class as a B overall. I am fond of the first three selections in Ruiz, Baun, and Trautman, but the Stevens pick was an "I" [Imcomplete]. Stevens is a work in progress, but clearly Sean Payton has a vision for the Mississippi State QB.
Unfortunately, fans will not see these rookies until training camp in August because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL executives are in talks for an abbreviated 2020 regular season schedule for teams. If this should happen, we may not see these rookies and teams until the fall.