First Round Quarterback Very Tough To Justify For New Orleans Saints Ahead Of 2024 NFL Draft, Except One Scenario

The New Orleans Saints simply are not in position for luxury picks in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. But there is always one scenario where things could make sense for them to select a quarterback to kickoff their draft class.
Quarterback Jayden Daniels celebrates after scoring a touchdown as the LSU Tigers take on Ole Miss.
Quarterback Jayden Daniels celebrates after scoring a touchdown as the LSU Tigers take on Ole Miss. / SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA
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The quarterback is the most important person on a football field. That is, as long as officials stay out of it. A team's signal caller touches the football each and every play, has to make the most beneficial or costly decisions throughout a game and has the ability to change the course of a contest (for better or worse) with a single throw. Or in some cases, they can even change the game with the throw they do not make.

While many may argue about positional value, in this case it is perfectly logical. The New Orleans Saints seem to feel that they have their guy in this role. Saints quarterback Derek Carr is locked in as the team's starter in 2024 and things are trending toward an expected return to the helm in 2025, based on his contract being restructured earlier this off-season.

Even with the commitment New Orleans has made to its passer, many are curious if quarterback could be a potential selection for the Saints in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. What is clear is that "never" does not exist in the NFL. But there are things that are close to "never", and this is one of them.

Derek Carr tucks and runs against the Los Angeles Rams.
Dec 21, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) moves out to / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

However, Preparing for life after Carr should be on the mind. In order to prepare for later without disrupting your hopes of competing now, the Saints would have to find the perfect opportunity. Doing so requires some shocking developments. There may only be one perfect scenario for the Saints to justifiably land their future passer. That scenario is an unlikely one that involves LSU quarterback and 2023 Heisman trophy winner Jayden Daniels.

Earlier in the draft cycle, it was not out of the ordinary to see the Saints paired with a quarterback as their No. 14 overall selection. NFL Draft expert Daniel Jeremiah even mocked Oregon passer Bo Nix to the team in a January mock draft, his 1.0 version. Since then, he has updated with Alabama lineman J.C. Latham in his second mock and Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu in version 3.0.

Despite the changing viewpoints of the experts, there are still often questions asked about whether to not the Saints will invest in an early signal caller this year. The fact of the matter is that the team is in no position to make a move like that. Barring some unprecedented scenario. New Orleans simply has too many needs on its roster. Offensive tackle. defensive line, interior offensive line, and wide receiver just to name a few. Needs like safety, linebacker and tight end are typically not addressed with first-round selections but those needs are also present to varying degrees.

With those needs piled up and perhaps not addressed the way the team would have liked through the early portion of free agency, taking a quarterback that will sit on the bench for the next two seasons feels like a luxury the Saints are not in position to enjoy. The team simply is not there yet. But there are always possibilities in a tough-to-predict NFL draft that could make opportunity greater than necessity.

In Jeremiah's 2.0 mock draft from February, USC quarterback Caleb Williams was off the board already when the Washington Commanders took North Carolina passer Drake Maye at No. 2. The New England Patriots shocked with the selection of Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison, Jr.. Harrison is a player that will likely be the No. 1 talent on some draft boards. This sets up a perfect scenario for the Saints to then go all in. The obstacle? The Minnesota Vikings. Well, that and the Patriots making an astoundingly surprising decision. But nevertheless.

Jayden Daniels runs with the football in Tiger Stadium.
Oct 21, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) runs with the / Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings made a big move a few weeks ago that netted them the No. 23 overall selection from the Cleveland Browns. After that move, the Vikings now sit with four possible first round picks they could trade: No. 11 and No. 23 from the 2024 draft and their firsts in 2025 and 2026. (You can only trade in advance to the third draft from the present.) This is a move that was fully exercised in Jeremiah's 3.0 mock from March in which the Vikings moved up to No. 4 overall with the Arizona Cardinals.

Lately, it seems that the Vikings may be keenly focused on another passer besides Daniels: Michigan's J.J. McCarthy. In the highly unlikely scenario that Williams and Maye go off the board first, New England eschews taking a quarterback in favor of Harrison and the Vikings move up where the Saints cannot only to leave Daniels on the board at No. 5 overall, New Orleans is in heaven. (One has to at least consider that the Vikings would take Daniels over McCarthy if both are on the board, as well.)

The Los Angeles Chargers, who presently hold the No. 5 overall selection, are going to get inundated with a slew of phone calls in this hypothetical. One of those calls should be coming from Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis.

With the No. 14 overall selection and first round picks in 2025 and 2026, the Saints would never be blamed (well, of course they would be, but they should not be in this scenario) for making that move up to No. 5 to secure the game-changing quarterback that may have the best pro career out of them all in this year's class. And that is not just a lot of aimless love for a Louisiana prospect. Daniels is a three-level passer with a precise and big arm that can use his feet to get out of trouble.

The type of quarterback that Saints Vice President/Assistant General Manager of College Personnel Jeff Ireland described he would consider drafting during the 2023 Senior Bowl. While quarterbacks like Nix and Washington's Michael Penix Jr. could be selected at No. 14 without a trade up, the team would then quickly re-enter the irresponsible luxury pick conversation with either of those moves. This unlikely scenario is one of the very few ways the Saints could justify selecting a quarterback in the first round. And they would have to mortgage part of their future to do it. But for a talent like Daniels, would it be worth it?

Ross Jackson