Saints Draft Prospect: LB Patrick Queen
Over the last three seasons, the New Orleans Saints have rebuilt their linebacking corps from a glaring team weakness into a much more athletic unit. They signed A.J. Klein as a free agent away from division rival Carolina in 2017, then added Alex Anzalone in the 3rd round of that year’s draft. In 2018, they signed Demario Davis, who has had two All-Pro caliber seasons and evolved into one of the league’s best defensive players. Last season, they brought in Kiko Alonso in an early season trade with the Miami Dolphins after adding promising Kaden Elliss in the seventh round of the draft.
Despite improvements at the position, the linebacker spot is considered a need for the Saints as this month’s NFL draft approaches. Davis is a key to the success of the defense, but the Saints lost Klein in free agency, Elliss is unproven, and versatile backup Craig Robertson is best as a spot-starter when necessary. Anzalone has been terrific when he’s been able to stay in the lineup, but has missed 29 of 53 games in his three years because of shoulder injuries. Alonso has injury concerns of his own, after tearing his ACL for the third time in last year’s playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Saints have addressed a few of their needs in free agency, and in doing so have given themselves some flexibility with their first-round draft choice. One area that they could address with that 24th overall selection is at linebacker, where there are 3-4 prospects that could come off the board before the end of round one. Today’s draft profile highlights one of those players, and one not too far up the road from the New Orleans Saints.
Patrick Queen, LB (LSU) 6’0 229-Lbs.
A native of Ventress, LA, Queen continued in the footsteps of recent excellent Louisiana State linebackers Kwon Alexander, Deion Jones, and Devin White despite starting just one full season before declaring for the draft. He had a strong sophomore campaign with the Tigers, accumulating 40 tackles (five for loss) and a quarterback sack while starting the last five games. Queen emerged into a star for the National Champions in 2019, recording 12 tackles for loss among his 85 total stops and adding 3 sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery. He shined brightest on the biggest stages, turning in dominant performances in the SEC title game, college football semifinal, and in his team’s national championship win over Clemson.
NFL Scouting Combine Statistics
- 40-Yd dash = 4.5 (4th among linebackers)
- Bench Press = 18 reps
- Vertical jump = 35”
- Broad jump = 125” (8th among linebackers)
NFL.com comparison (via Lance Zierlein) = Thomas Davis (Chargers)
Queen is a bit undersized and can be overwhelmed by a pulling guard. Because of his size, he performs better when defensive linemen in front of him tie up blockers. He must show better feel for zone coverage, but was much better toward the end of the 2019 season as he gained experience. He can get lost in heavy traffic during his sideline to sideline pursuit.
Patrick Queen is an outstanding off the ball linebacker. He has the athleticism and coverage skills to pick up a tight end, back coming out of the backfield, or even some wideouts one on one. Queen flies from sideline to sideline or shoots into an opposing backfield to track down ball carriers quickly. He’s a physical player with excellent read-and-react ability and good natural instincts for the game. He beats blockers with his speed to gain advantage and has good diagnosis as a play develops. Queen is a potential immediate starter and every down defender from either the middle or weak side with the upside of a star.
Besides the concerning injury histories of Anzalone and Alonso, both they along with Demario Davis and Craig Robertson are scheduled to become free agents after the season. The Saints have addressed most other areas of concern this offseason but have not yet made a move at linebacker. They may do so in this month’s NFL draft, perhaps with their first pick. Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons is the consensus top prospect at the position and will be among the top ten players selected. Queen and Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma are projected to come off the board next between the middle and end of the 1st round, with Zack Baun of Wisconsin possibly sneaking in the last part of the first.