How the Saints can have the perfect 2020 NFL Draft, with an approach centered around Drew Brees


The perfect draft is an elusive thing. You have to be on the clock when the guy you want is still available, so much of nailing the draft depends on being lucky enough for the right players to fall into your lap. But having a perfect strategy for attacking the draft is not nearly as luck-dependent. Identifying not just immediate needs, but the things that will likely become needs one or two years down the line is something every single team in the league can do before the draft even starts. Identifying not just specific players who can fill those needs, but ways they can be addressed in each round — including trade-ups, trade-downs, and trade-outs — is something every single team in the league should be doing. 

All of this, naturally, brings us to the Perfect Draft series we’re running here at CBSSports.com throughout this week. For each of the NFL’s 32 teams, we’ll be identifying the proper plan of attack for the 2020 NFL Draft, walking you through each of the steps they need to take to come away with an all-too-rare A-plus grade at the end of the weekend. 

All of this brings us to the New Orleans Saints, who have one of the league’s best rosters and very few weaknesses. It was difficult to come up with the proper approach for this exercise simply because they can go in so many different directions due to their overall roster strength, but in the end, the idea of solidifying the foundation around Drew Brees while also attempting to identify a potential successor stood out as the right way to go.

1. Keep building out Drew Brees’ weaponry

The Saints added Emmanuel Sanders on a very affordable contract earlier this offseason. That’s good. But they shouldn’t stop there. Sanders is only on a two-year deal, and all they have behind him and Michael Thomas is Ted Ginn and Tre’Quan Smith. Considering neither Ginn nor Smith has carved out a sizable role in the New Orleans offense over these past few years, it’s probably time to start thinking about a different solution as the team’s No. 3 receiver. 

Sure, Taysom Hill could take some of those snaps, but if he’s going to be the team’s full-time backup quarterback, it makes less sense to expose him to potential hits than it did these past two years while Teddy Bridgewater was there. If the Saints can find a perimeter wideout who allows Thomas to continue dominating all comers out of the slot, that would really open things up for him and Alvin Kamara underneath. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a first-round priority simply due to the depth of the receiver class, but the Saints shouldn’t consider their work at that spot finished. 

2. Add second-level playmakers on defense

The Saints made a strong move to solidify the back end of the defense, bringing in old friend Malcolm Jenkins to fill the spot previously occupied by Vonn Bell. Jenkins should be an upgrade at the position, but he’s also likely not a long-term answer. With Marcus Williams locked in at the opposite safety spot it’s not necessarily a priority to find Jenkins’ successor just yet, but it should be on their minds. 

On the other hand, they could definitely use a playmaking linebacker. A.J. Klein left to go sign with the Bills, and while Demario Davis, Kiko Alonso, and Alex Anzalone is a fine linebacking trio, all three of them have contracts that expire at the end of this season and two of them (Davis and Alonso) are into their 30s now. With New Orleans’ first-round pick sitting at No. 24 overall, they’re right in the range where many expect Patrick Queen and/or Kenneth Murray to be available, and they’d both make sense at that spot.

3. Solidify the interior lines

If the Saints’ roster could be said to have an actual weakness, it would probably be the interior of the offensive line. Center Erik McCoy stepped into the lineup and was an immediate contributor, but guards Andrus Peat and Larry Warford, while good, aren’t quite as consistently reliable. Peat just got paid so he’s not going anywhere for a while, but Warford’s contract is up at the end of the 2020 season. Drafting his eventual replacement a year too early is better than doing so a year too late.

On the defensive side of the ball, Sheldon Rankins is an excellent playmaker on the inside, but he’s missed six-plus games in two of his four seasons. Malcom Brown and David Onyemata are good players, but they don’t provide the same kind of pass rush capabilities Rankins brings to the table. So, the Saints should have their eye out for an athletic, penetrating defensive tackle in the middle rounds of the draft. 

4. Keep an eye out for Brees’ successor

It seems pretty clear that Brees’ career is nearly over. He’s already signed a deal with NBC Sports to be a commentator when his career is over, whenever that is. Sean Payton might claim to be comfortable with Taysom Hill as the eventual successor, but his actions when Brees was hurt last year told a different story. If there’s a quarterback the Saints like in this draft, they should go and get him. 





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