AFR: Saints draft grades and recap

AFR: Saints draft grades and recap

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - As I observe this 2015 Saints draft class I'm left with the overwhelming feeling that this was a foundation building draft.

With the sheer quantity of picks and the positions that were selected,  it's clear that this was a group they wanted to build from. Unlike some other drafts in the recent past that felt like they were drafting complementary pieces to add to a foundation  already.

Some picks were home runs, others were solid singles. But unlike last year, I don't see any immediate strikeouts.

All in all, it was a very good draft.

Immediate Impact Guys:

Stephone Anthony ILB Clemson

The Saints not only need an inside linebacker, they need a leader on defense with the departure of Curtis Lofton.  Anthony has that leadership in his DNA. Of all the Saints selections, I think Anthony has the best shot at being a starter from day one.

Hau'oli Kikaha OLB, Washington

I can't get over the amount of production Kikaha had at Washington. His 14-straight games with a sack is absolutely mind-boggling. At some point he would have shown up on tape by opponents and undoubtedly teams would have devoted double teams to his side of

the field. It didn't matter. He still was ultra-productive. Given the Saints pressing need at pass rusher, I think Kikaha can step in right away and even if he isn't an official starter, can immediately be a part of the regular rotation.

For Peat's sake

I've devoted an entire column on my thoughts on the Andrus Peat selection. I simply cannot automatically pencil in Peat as a starter at tackle. Many in the fan base scoffed at me when I suggested that, but I can't definitively say Peat will beat out Zach Strief or Terron Armstead at either tackle spot his rookie year.

I do think, regardless of label, the Saints will find a way to get him on the field somehow.

Most Intriguing Selection.....Garrett Grayson.

I went back and watched as many clips as I could find of Grayson.  I can see why the Saints like him. 

He has good size, great accuracy, very good pocket presence and the kind of mobility pro teams love. He can run for yardage but also very good at shuffling and resetting in the pocket. He is very much like Drew Brees in that regard.

In saying all that, he won't be ready for at least two years.  He has to tighten up his delivery; it's too long and low at the release point. There were at least three completions I saw on tape that would have been pick sixes in the pros. 

Bottom line at 75 overall, I like the pick and think it was the perfect time to pull the trigger. 

Davis Tull

I was first alerted to Tull when I got word that he was on a pre-draft visit and began researching him.  Immediately, I became fascinated with his skill set. He ran a 4.57 40, jumped 42.5 inches and repped 225 on bench press 26 times at the combine. By comparison Justin Houston ran a 4.68 40 and jumped 36.0 inches. 

In no way, shape or form am I suggesting he is as good as Houston. My point is to show his elite athleticism for his position. As a bit of a mysterious player, Tull should come  in with a workmanlike attitude once healthy and has the potential to be the next small school gem discovered by the Saints. 

Potential Sleeper.........Marcus Murphy.

I was thrilled to see the Saints specifically target a guy that can help in the return game. 

That deficiency combined with a lack of turnovers constantly put the offense in horrible field position situations last year. Murphy will have the chance to make an immediate impact in the return game and as a receiver out of the backfield.

Biggest Miss.......

I thought the Saints would have addressed their wide receiver or tight end positions at some point in this draft. They got neither.

While it is true that Saints wide receivers can be interchangeable at times with Brees, right now a depth chart that has Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston, Nick Toon, Joe Morgan, Brandon Coleman and Seantavious Jones doesn't look scary. Their tight end group features Ben Watson, Josh Hill and Orson Charles.

The Saints have to feel VERY confident in the development of their younger player to completely bypass any pass catchers in this draft.

Overall Grade: B+

First and foremost, I love the quantity of the class. Nine players gives the Saints a very good chance at landing a few impact guys that can be around for a long time.

I would've liked to have seen them grab some kind of pass catcher and possibly an interior offensive lineman.

Overall though, the vibe I got from the organization seemed much more focused this year after last year's debacle. And I think this class will reflect that.

Other Observations:

- I thought it was interesting to hear Payton say the organization pays close attention to media reports on where players are working out.  It's how he knew how much interest other teams had in Grayson and who he worked out for. He said it just so happened their private workout with Grayson wasn't reported.

- Kudos to Payton for honestly addressing the La'el Collins situation. The unknown surrounding Collins made him completely undraftable. Payton basically said as much in his press conference Friday.

- Speaking of Collins, it's time to fire his agent/lawyers. Did they not understand the rule that if he isn't drafted he can't re enter the draft the following year? Clearly they did not. If they did, there was no way he would have told teams that if he isn't drafted by Friday he would re-enter the draft next year. The whole situation is bizarre and sad. Collins' camp is only making it worse.

- Jeff Ireland had a significant impact on this draft. I thought it was telling that Mickey Loomis said both he and Payton are naturally aggressive and it was Ireland that was the voice of reason. It may have been why there was only one trade in this class.

- Another Ireland trait is size. He prefers big players and every player they drafted would be considered good size for their position with the exception of Murphy.

-Think the Saints don't realize their mistake last year at cornerback? They drafted two and traded up for one of them. They now have eight cornerbacks on their roster. No way are they going to leave themselves that vulnerable at that position again.

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