Just like a host of Saints twitter followers, I was clamouring for Loomis and Payton to fleece another team for some more picks as the 2016 draft approached. The value in multiple early round selections is just so enticing.
The organisation did their own thing though, why not? They always have.
Round one selection Sheldon Rankins, DT out of Louisville was probably the most unpredictable pick at 12, mainly because in the lead up to the draft it was the most predicted pick. They never seem to grab who the draft pundits are giving them in their mock 27.0. The big guy does make a lot of sense, fitting the need at 3-tech and improving the pass rush, both mentioned by Sean Payton earlier in the off-season. The more I look at him the more I like him, the motor, the leg drive, the lateral movement are all stand out features in his play and will provide an immediate upgrade up front.
Next the two guys from hail from Ohio State, WR Michael Thomas (shhhh) and FS Von Bell. I love the Thomas pick, when I saw the run on receivers in the back end of round one I thought he would be snatched up before the end of the first day. He provides an outside target in the red zone with big mitts that snatch the ball out of the air and an upgrade in the ‘jumbo slot’ role that Colston has been heroically holding onto for the past few seasons.
The Von Bell pick may take me a little longer to get fully on board with. Of course, the guy is on my team and I’ll be behind him on the field no matter what but I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of some of his tape. The Saints defence needs to be good at the basics, they can’t afford anything else holding them back with the lack of talent they have had on the roster and well, Von Bell is not a good tackler.. he is made to look pedestrian at times when coming forward to make a play. I liked the value in the third round for safety before the trade up and I like some of the guys who were there after New England picked at 78 and even into the fourth round. In saying that, there are a bunch of things to like about his play at Ohio State, he is instinctive, he can blanket a receiver down the field and he seems to flow to where the play will be without effort. I’m sure Payton has a vision for him and I can’t wait to see how he is used this year.
Next up the big one, the trade that sent the Saints twitter-verse into meltdown, the trade up for David Onyemata, DT from Manitoba (Canada). Two fifth round picks is about the asking price for a fourth round pick, give or take, and when I saw the fleur-de-lis on my TV I got out of my chair in anticipation.. I thought we were going for the un-explainedly unpopular DT Andrew Billings out of Baylor. Then came the name I’d never heard before and I, like all Saints fans, stared blankly at the screen for a good five seconds in disbelief. What else did we expect though, right?
After another beer and a quick google search I came to the same conclusion most of you have – Onyemata is an animal. He throws around his Canadian opposition like pre-schoolers and has his way with anyone in front of him. Loomis says he expects him to contribute right away, he’s ever the optimist. I’d love to see him shave off 20-25 pounds and tear up NFL offensive lines opposite Cam Jordan as a base DE.
The last pick for the Saints in the seventh round really is a puzzler. Then, players that late in the process generally are a swing-and-hope type pick. Daniel Lasco, RB from Cal was the best player left on the board and after watching his 2014 tape it’s easy to see why. The way he carved though, around and over college defences was a thing of beauty and if not for his 2015 injury, he may have gone several rounds earlier. Special teams is where he see’s his best fit for immediate impact and the team needs a consistent gunner outside of Dixon, so that may be his way to the roster.. As the 5th? running back??
Guard was my number one need going into the draft and it wasn’t answered during the seven rounds. But we’ve all seen the bag of goodies the Saints came away with in the UDFA free-for-all. Steals like All-American offensive line-man Landon Turner and Jack Allen, the imposing Avery Young and the under-rated DB’s from the SEC Trae Elston and De’Vante Harris, and LSU fans will remember the talented downfield threat from WKU Jared Dangerfield.
When the process was finished I had a smile on my face. I went through some mixed emotions the like that only Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton can give, but came through the other side excited for the road ahead. Excited enough to start writing about it…