After Further Review: Five takes on the Saints 2021 draft class

After Further Review: Five takes on the Saints 2021 draft class
Payton Turner headlines the Saints 2021 draft class. (Source: University of Houston Football Athletics)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Analyzing the Turner pick

The emotions surrounding the selection of Payton Turner have cooled off a bit. I too was caught off guard with the selection. Not with the player per se, just where he was picked. After watching the tape, it’s easy to see why the Saints liked him. He moves well for a player of his size. He adds some versatility to play standing up, with his hand on the ground, and can move inside in certain situations.

As for the theory that they could have gotten him later, I was told there was fear that a team behind them that would’ve drafted Turner. We’ll never know if that was indeed the case, but the Saints weren’t willing to take that chance.

Bottom line, I think Turner contributes as a rotational player in year one, and will be Cam Jordan’s eventual replacement.

Take Two: Day Two Starters

Of all the selections in this draft, both day two picks have the best chances of starting right away.

Second-round pick Pete Werner has the clearest path to the starting job. After watching his tape, he’s pretty clean all the way around. He’s rangy, understands coverage concepts, and has good timing when he blitzes. The Saints simply don’t have another player currently on the roster that I believe is worthy of starting next to DeMario Davis.

Third-round pick Paulson Adebo is an interesting study. He was incredibly productive in 2018 and 2019 with eight interceptions. Had he not opted out and matched that production in 2020, it’s reasonable to think he would have gone much higher.

The Saints will likely sign a veteran cornerback, but Adebo will be given every opportunity to compete with that player and win the job.

Take Three: Ian Book made day three interesting

As soon as the Saints took Book, I started watching the tape on his game. The comp I keep coming back to is Jeff Garcia.

Garcia had success in the early 2000′s, and played in an era where it was more difficult for guys that size . Book has some of Garcia’s qualities. He’s quick, accurate, and scrappy on the football field.

The biggest difference, Book won more games than any other at one of college football’s proudest institutions. Not only did he win a lot, he played big in a lot of their biggest games. It’s doubtful he competes for a starting job in Year 1, but he is an intriguing player for down the road.

Take Four: Grading the Class

The 2021 Saints draft class:

DE Payton Turner

LB Peter Werner

CB Paulson Adebo

QB Ian Book

T Landon Young

WR Kawaan Baker

That’s six players: three on offense and three on defense.

There’s at least one immediate starter, with two or three seeing the field regularly.

It’s a more solid class than spectacular.

Grade: B

Take Five: Other Observations

  • It was interesting that the Saints had bold plans of moving up, but in the end settled for two modest deals. In the first round, Mickey Loomis said they ‘never worked harder’ to get into the top ten. In the second round, he confirmed they were trying to get to the top of the round with no success. Bottom line, despite having ambitions plans, picking later in rounds made it very difficult to get those deals done.
  • Payton immediately shot down any talk of Book being a Taysom Hill-type player. That was a reach by some to suggest. Book is certainly athletic, but what makes Hill so unique is his size. He’s 6′2″-6′3″, 230 pounds. Book is 6′0″, 200 pounds. Book wouldn’t last long if he was asked to do what Hill is able to do.
  • With the lack of medical information and opt outs, the Saints weren’t taking any chances on any exceptions from a prototype standpoint. Every single selection has prototype size for each position. There was a time when Book wouldn’t have been considered prototype, but that has since changed.
  • Defensive tackle remains the biggest hole on the roster after the draft.

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