New Orleans Saints fans seem to be coming back down to earth over Thursday night’s first round pick of Texas San Antonio Defensive End, Marcus Davenport. Everyone felt like Sean Payton and the Saints gave up way too much to move up from #27 to #14 (including the 2019 1st round pick) grab the pass rusher. Davenport’s upside and local connections (father and grandfather) seem to be giving people hope of finally filling in the biggest hole on the team. Davenport dominated in Conference USA in 2017 with 55 total tackles, including 17 1/2 stops for a loss, 8 1/2 sacks and eight quarterback hurries. He maintained his play from 2016 with 68 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 6 1/2 sacks and eight quarterback hurries. Marcus ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.58 seconds at the scouting combine.
In the second round, the Saints drafted Tre’Quan Smith a WR from Central Florida. Smith is listed at 6’2″ and 210 pounds, and had 11 career 100-yard games. UCF beat Auburn 34-27 in the Peach Bowl this year on New Years Day. If you recall Auburn beat Alabama 26-14 on Nov 25th. You could see why UCF claimed to be the National Champions after going 13-0. Michael Thomas (@CantGuardMike) just tweeted: “Congratulations bro welcome to the squad it’s SUPER BOWL OR BUST LAST YEAR WAS THE WARMUP! QUOTE IT!” Tre’Quan Smith hauled in 54 receptions for 1,082 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. He averaged 19.8 yards per catch. Smith racked up a total 2,747 reception yards on 168 catches for 22 touchdowns over his three-year college career. He was named to the Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List for the nation’s best receiver at the start of the year. Smith is also is one of the best blocking wide receivers in the 2018 draft class, a huge asset Saints greatly desire. Smith has long arms (33 3/8 inch) for his size. He clocked in a 4.49 second 40-yard dash, bench pressed 225 pounds 12 times, recorded a 37.5 inch vertical jump and a 130 inch broad jump. These are generally better than Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown.
Saints chose OT Rick Leonard from Florida State in the 4th round (#127). He is listed at 6’7″ and 311 pounds. He switched from the defensive line in 2016. Leonard started six games that season at right tackle and all 13 games at the same position in 2017. The Combine notes that Leonard is a top-heavy tackle with decent athleticism but lacking in consistency and fundamentals at this stage of his development. He wasn’t able to showcase those skills at the NFL scouting combine due to a strained quadricep.
In the 5th round (#164) Saints took safety Natrell Jamerson from Wisconsin. A Shrine Game standout, Jamerson is listed at 5-11 and 201-pounds. He can also play CB in the slot. He’ll bring a lot of flexibility to the table, as well as star on Special Teams. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds at the combine (tied for second fastest among safeties). Safeties have been high picks for the Saints for the last few years (Kenny Vaccaro, Vonn Bell, and Marcus Williams).
Saints had two picks in the 6th round. And they chose Boston College’s Kamrin Moore (189th), a three-year starter at Cornerback. He is listed at 5-10 and 203 pounds. He started all 10 games as a senior before a shoulder injury ended his season. The second pick was Boston Scott (201st) a 5-foot-7, 203-pound running back from Louisiana Tech. Boston is from the nearby Baton Rouge area. He is 5-foot-7 and 195 pounds. He had 1,047 rushing yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
Lastly (#245) the Saints go local again and pick Will Clapp, LSU O-Line and Brother Martin HS, New Orleans alum. Clapp displayed all kinds of versatility during his time in Baton Rouge as he started 13 games at center, 12 games at left guard and 11 games at right guard.
Overall the draft did not seem to go as most people expected as Tight End was the favorite pick in the lead up. The return signing of free agent TE Ben Watson a month ago (3/28) must have greatly impacted this need. Big depth needs were filled at Edge, Receiver, and O-Line with the first three picks. Very tall and very fast appear to be the Saints cravings this year with the early picks. Also no Ohio State players were chosen from seeminlgy the Saints school of choice the last few years.
Saints have been very active in the undrafted free agents in past years. I look forward to reporting on their signings in my next post.