The New Orleans Saints and the rest of the teams in the NFL are now just a few hours away from the start of the 2019 Draft. Even though the Black and Gold have a limited number of draft picks this year, the rumors about what they may (or may not) do this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, remain as plentiful as they have been in previous years.
With the organization having already traded away tonight’s 1st Round pick to the Green Bay Packers last year in order to get defensive end Marcus Davenport, the team won’t be making their first selection in the annual event until the 62nd overall pick in Round 2.
Also, after having made two other trades last year to acquire QB Teddy Bridgewater (from the New York Jets) and CB Eli Apple (from the New York Giants), New Orleans also finds itself without picks in Rounds 3 and 4. However, the team will be making a grand total of six selections, with a pick in Round 5 (#168 overall), two in Round 6 (#177 and #202 overall) and another two in Round 7 (#231 and #244 overall).
In spite of the limited draft capital, the Saints have been one of the more aggressive franchises in the League when it comes to the Draft every year. While it would seem a bit more unlikely this year, it doesn’t mean that they won’t still be looking to do a bit of “wheeling and dealing” as they’ve been known to do in the past.
As is the case every year, there are some rumors that continue to circulate online as to what the team’s true intentions are and just who some of the players the Saints might be targeting once their turn to pick comes up. Invariably, that includes the possibilities of trades. Obviously, the Saints haven’t been shy about making those, especially if they feel such a move can benefit them in the long run.
With that in mind, this morning Big Easy Magazine wraps up our month-long 2019 Saints Pre-Draft coverage with a look at some of the more believable (and possibly legitimate) last minute rumors that have been mentioned within the past few days.
THE SAINTS ARE GOING TO TRADE UP INTO THE 1ST ROUND TO GET A POTENTIAL SUPERSTAR / “IMMEDIATE IMPACT” PLAYER
— Fanteractive (@Fanteractive) April 15, 2019
Even though New Orleans doesn’t have a 1st Round pick later tonight, there are more than just a few well-respected analysts and observers that believe the ultra-aggressive front office duo of Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton (with the notable assistance of Director of College Scouting Jeff Ireland) will attempt to do a little bit of “wheeling and dealing” in a concerted effort to move back into the round.
But — would the Saints actually consider giving up even more assets, future draft picks, or perhaps even one of their best players on the current roster — to actually pull it off? At this point, you’d have to imagine that such a scenario isn’t very likely.
As of right now, New Orleans simply doesn’t have the necessary draft capital to pull off such a bold move. While the team obviously has several valuable players on their current roster, there isn’t any one-star player that the Saints would really want to part ways with, especially Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas.
Fifth-year offensive lineman and former 2015 Draft 1st Round pick Andrus Peat is a player that’s been the subject of trade rumors this off-season (as we’ve mentioned in a previous article), but no team is going to willingly give up a 1st Round pick for him nearly five years later. At this point, it’s difficult for one to imagine that the Saints will be able to move back up into the 1st Round.
Unless it’s a player that falls much further down the Draft Board than anyone previously expected and is a player whom they believe is an elite or generational-type of talent (which they felt Davenport was and still will become someday in the future), such a move probably isn’t going to happen. But then again as Saints fans are well aware: given the notable past history of this franchise, it’s usually wise to “never say never.”
THE SAINTS ARE GOING TO TRADE WITH THE ARIZONA CARDINALS TO ACQUIRE FORMER LSU ALL-AMERICAN CORNERBACK PATRICK PETERSON
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) April 23, 2019
Peterson, as most Saints fans are well aware, was a former unanimous 2-time All-American defensive back at LSU. He was selected fifth overall by Arizona in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft and has been considered one of the “elite” players at the cornerback position League-wide for the past several seasons. Not surprisingly as a direct result, Peterson was invited to the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons in the NFL.
However, as it was reported first by Arizona Republic beat writer Kent Somers, Peterson was a no-show at Arizona’s voluntary veteran mini-camp earlier this week and allegedly overheard a conversation by Cardinals team management which “pissed him off.” The 28-year old Peterson — who will turn 29 in July — reportedly has asked to be traded for the 2nd time in the past two years. Naturally, given his history just up the road in Baton Rouge while playing at LSU, the Saints are one of the teams mentioned as one of his possible destinations.
That said, it’s a bit hard to imagine that New Orleans would be able to make such a trade happen, considering the substantial compensation that the Cardinals likely would seek in return. The Saints would likely be forced to not only give up their 1st Round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft but would also have to throw in a few other picks (potentially a 2nd and a 3rd) to seal the deal.
Even worse is the fact that whichever NFL team decides to make the move to take him, will be proverbially “left holding the bag” and get stuck paying out the remainder of his current deal with Arizona where he’s owed $10.6 million in 2019 and $12.55 million in 2020. And with the Saints coaching staff said to be pleased with the overall performances of starting CB’s Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple last season, it’s hard to envision this rumor ever becoming a reality or reaching its full fruition.
EVEN THOUGH THE SAINTS RE-SIGNED TEDDY BRIDGEWATER IN FREE AGENCY, THEY’RE STILL CONSIDERING DRAFTING ANOTHER QUARTERBACK WITH THEIR INITIAL PICK AT #62 OVERALL IN ROUND 2
Will Grier was 🔥 pic.twitter.com/bUW9MBurj3
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 22, 2018
As preposterous as this might sound to the Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater fans out there, the Saints ALWAYS have an eye on a quarterback — mainly because Payton used to be one himself. It’s how he discovered Tony Romo for Bill Parcells. So which quarterback could that possibly be in this Draft?
A few weeks ago, we told you that several members of the Saints scouting department staff were in attendance at West Virginia’s Pro Day to observe West Virginia University quarterback Will Grier, who is considered one of the top signal-callers in this year’s somewhat below-average QB class. He is a player that one can clearly envision as a potential “heir apparent” to Drew Brees after he retires.
Does that mean if they actually drafted Grier at #62 (assuming he’s there) or even traded up to get him if he goes much earlier (as it’s expected), that neither Teddy Bridgewater or Taysom Hill are going to get their shot at being the “heir apparent”? Not necessarily. While the Saints wouldn’t want to risk “wasting” a 2nd Round pick, Grier isn’t the risk that some have unfairly portrayed him to be.
In a nutshell, Grier received a 1-year suspension from the NCAA in October of 2015 while he was the back-up freshman QB at the University of Florida after he tested positive for PED’s (performance-enhancing drugs), specifically for the drug known as Ligandrol. Ligandrol is an over-the-counter supplement that Grier stated he wasn’t aware had been banned. The following year, Grier was forced to sit out per NCAA rules before he decided to leave the Gators and transfer to West Virginia, where he quickly became one of college football’s top QB’s.
Nevertheless, in a QB class that’s fairly weak in comparison to the overall deep draft class, Grier is one of the better QBs this year. In fact, he is said by a few prominent NFL scouts to be the most “pro ready.”
A full-time starter for the West Virginia football program for the past two seasons, the 24-year displayed a variety of QB skills that are needed to be successful in Sean Payton’s high-octane offense. Ironically, because of his size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds), Grier has drawn comparisons to both Brees and Cleveland Browns star QB Baker Mayfield. Much like Brees specifically, Grier isn’t considered the most physically-gifted of athletes at the QB position.
What he does bring to the table (like Brees and Mayfield) is a high-level field IQ and awareness, along with the capability to throw the football with timing, touch, and most importantly, accuracy. He might just be the perfect candidate to run Payton’s offense behind Brees for a year or two before becoming the eventual “heir apparent.” Does that mean they’ll draft Grier? As we mentioned up above: with this franchise, you should never say never.
But, with the Saints having filled many of their remaining weaknesses in Free Agency, this really isn’t a year where they need to have a ‘homerun’ draft. This is a team that was one blown referee’s call (or no-call) away from going to the Super Bowl — and there isn’t the need to ‘tweak’ much — other than to fill a few holes and fine tune things for one last run at trying to win another pro football world championship with Brees.
One thing is for certain: later tonight, and most definitely tomorrow (Friday, April 26th), we’ll finally get the answer to one (if not all) of these more prominent of Saints 2019 Draft rumors.
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.