The NFL Draft is always a time of great optimism and hope, as NFL teams reload their rosters with the new generation of prospects looking to carve their name into NFL history. The crapshoot that we call the NFL Draft is also the most exciting programming on television right now, pulling more eyes and attention then everyone is accustomed to.
Here at Draft Rite, I am going team-by-team and reviewing each new class, giving you insightful analysis that will allow you to understand the direction of the team.
1 – 24: IOL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Cesar Ruiz is considered widely across the NFL as the best interior offensive line prospect in the class. Ruiz played center at Michigan. This is a very interesting pick because last year, the Saints drafted a center (Erik McCoy) in the second round who started most of the year and was named to the AP All-Rookie Team.
I don’t think that the Saints are taking Ruiz with the intention of making him the team’s center. Let’s take a glance at the interior offensive line in New Orleans right now:
LG: Andrus Peat / Derrick Kelly II
C: Erik McCoy / Nick Easton
RG: Cesar Ruiz / Larry Warford / Tom Cameron
Ruiz can be plugged into the right guard slot, and it upgrades the offensive line immediately. While Larry Warford was an adiquate guard, Ruiz has the potential to be another pro bowler on the roster, and the much needed protection for Drew Brees is there.
Another fact worth pointing out: Andrus Peat, McCoy, right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, and left tackle Terron Armstead are all under contract through 2021. In theory, that’s the remainder of Drew Brees’ NFL career.
Grade: Low Impact Prospect (B)
3 – 74: EDGE Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Zack Baun is an interesting prospect in this class. He’s somewhat of a hybrid edge, but not enough of a pass rusher that NFL teams wanted to see him line up at linebacker in Mobile during the Senior Bowl. He’s not going to be able to play defensive end in the Saints system, so where can we expect to see him fit it?
SLB: Alex Anzelone / Zack Baun / Chase Hansen / Andrew Dowell
MLB: Kiko Alonzo / Craig Robertson
WLB: Demario Davis / Kaden Ellis
All three starting linebackers will see their contracts expire after this season. I’m sure that the Saints are prepared to bring back Demario Davis, but after that, it’s an unknown. It makes a lot of sense to draft a guy right here who can replace one of those impending free agents this year.
Baun is a guy who a lot of people thought would go late first round or even early in the second. The fact that he fell so far in the class would explain why the Saints felt it necessary to trade up and pull the trigger on him right there.
Grade: Future Impact Prospect (B-)
3 – 105: TE Adam Trautman, Dayton
The Saints moved up one more time, this time to build something for the future of the franchise. Adam Trautman is my top tight end prospect in the class, someone that I graded as an immediate impact prospect. Trautman was a red zone threat at Dayton, and had an outstanding week of practice at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
TE: Jared Cook / Adam Trautman / Josh Hill / Garrett Griffin / Jason Vander Laan / Cole Wick
The Saints understand that the possibility that Trautman might need a little bit of time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game. While he looked more than up for the task in Mobile, tight ends historically have taken a season or two to adjust to the NFL level.
Jared Cook’s contract expires after this season, and I do believe that the hope is that Adam Trautman will be ready to take over as the starter on this offense in 2021.
Grade: Immediate Impact Prospect (A+)
Overall Grade: (B+)
I think that getting an immediate impact guy late in the third round, a potential perenial pro bowler in the first who can be a force in year two, and a guy who can replace one of your impending free agent linebackers is a good class, considering that trades were made to limit the class to three prospects. It’s a good overall haul though, and one that makes a lot of sense across the board.