Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing post-draft coverage, we’re doing our very best to leave no stone unturned and bringing you draft recaps from each and every NFL franchise. Make sure you’re ready for your dynasty league rookie draft by staying up on all these articles, checking out our rookie SWOT series, rookie draft guide, rookie rankings, rookie draft cheat sheet and mock draft rooms. There are simply no better resources out there for dynasty fantasy football enthusiasts.
As we continue our team-by-team draft recaps, we come to the New Orleans Saints. With Drew Brees at the helm, the Saints always have a high-flying offense, but they were fairly weak at receiver last year. The decision to let Marques Colston walk in free agency made them one of the teams most likely to draft a wideout early, which made them especially intriguing to us. When a team takes a receiver on one of the first two days of the draft, we always pay attention, but when that team boasts one of the best quarterbacks in the game, we are downright giddy. New Orleans did have one of the league’s worst defenses, so there is no shortage of needs down on the Bayou.
Round 1, Pick 12 — Sheldon Rankins, Defensive End
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This pick was nailed by a majority of mock drafts. A team with a need for a 4-3 defensive end took the top-rated, by most, 4-3 defensive end in the class. It was a perfect match. The Saints’ defense ranked last in yards allowed per carry (4.9) and yards allowed per pass (8.4). That’s not good. Rankins should step right in and be an immediate contributor. If New Orleans wants to give themselves a real shot at another title — or even a playoff berth — before Brees retires, it has to improve the defense. This is a step in the right direction.
Round 2, Pick 47 — Michael Thomas, Receiver
The Saints landed a player who I consider to be a high-risk, high-reward proposition in the second round. Thomas has all the measurables and was expected to go a tad earlier — with some even thinking he could be a first-round pick early in the draft process — so New Orleans got nice value here. Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead played well last year, but the Saints needed an upgrade over Brandon Coleman. While Cooks should be the top option in the passing game, Thomas’ skillset and size figures to provide a nice compliment. If he’s able to secure a starting role, Thomas could put up nice numbers right away playing on one of the league’s best offenses. It’ll take a first-round pick in rookie drafts to land Thomas.
Round 2, Pick 61 — Vonn Bell, Safety
The Saints grabbed another Ohio State product, but they moved back into the second round to do it. New Orleans had just six picks to start the draft, and they gave up one of them for this pick. Ostensibly, a team with so many holes should make deals where they acquire more picks, but the Saints did the opposite. Of course, the team on the other end of the deal, the New England Patriots, are famous for pulling off these type of trades. On the other hand, Bell is a big-time talent who several draft gurus had rated as a top 40 player in the class. The Saints got a good one and filled a need, but they paid a steep price to do it.
Round 4, Pick 120 — David Onyemata, Defensive Tackle
The Saints traded up again — this time dealing a 2016 fifth-rounder and a 2017 fifth-round pick — to take Onyemata, who was the source of some buzz in the final weeks leading up to the draft. A relative unknown from Canada, Onyemata has a lot of athletic ability. He hasn’t played top-notch competition, which is obviously a concern, but New Orleans will hope to continue the success it has had plucking players from north of the border. The Saints drafted Akiem Hicks in 2012, and they signed a stud from the CFL last year in Delvin Breaux.
Round 7, Pick 237 — Daniel Lasco, Running Back
Because of trades, the Saints watched 117 players go before their next pick. Admittedly, New Orleans doesn’t have a big need at running back, but they gambled on a high-upside player in Lasco. An athletic freak, Lasco shredded the NFL Combine, displaying elite athleticism. He was limited to just 65 carries last season, but he rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 scores as a junior at California in 2014. With Mark Ingram, Tim Hightower and C.J. Spiller in the fold, Lasco doesn’t figure to do much in 2016, but he’s a name to remember for the future.
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I about soiled myself when Michael Thomas fell to the 1.09 pick in our draft. We had 18 hrs to pick; that pick took as long as it was to send the email. Another team was mad cause I gave him NO CHANCE to talk me out of the pick. Also just acquired Fleener in a trade. Expecting Brees to throw 600 passes so both should fit in well.
Sheldon Rankins is a DT, not a DE.
I believe he played some DE at Louisville, although that was because of injuries. You’re right — his primary position is DT. I should have been more clear.