After Further Review: Grading the Saints 2017 Draft

Updated: Apr. 29, 2017 at 8:03 PM CDT
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(WVUE) - First Round (11th)- Marshon Lattimore, CB Ohio St.

It’s hard to knock the logic of picking the third or fourth highest rated player at number 11. Lattimore was almost unanimously viewed as the top cornerback in this draft. I viewed the position as the Saints second highest need. When the Saints picked here they had an abundance of defensive talent to choose from. Jonathan Allen, Derek Barnett and Malik Hooker were all on the board. The Saints went with Lattimore who has elite cover skills and athleticism. He also has lingering hamstring issues that may be problematic. Nonetheless, I think he is the favorite to start opposite Delvin Breaux.

Grade: B+ 

First Round (32nd)-  Ryan Ramcyzk, T Wisconsin

A classic case of what could have been. Ramcyzk is a Saint but this pick has become known more for who the Saints didn’t get. Reuben Foster was on the phone with the Saints and was just about to be the newest member of the black and gold until San Francisco beeped in and the rest is history. The 49ers traded up to 31 to snatch Foster away before the Saints could grab him. Many were frustrated that Ramcyzk was the next man up. Sean Payton said Ramcyzk was the highest graded tackle on their board and there was a huge drop-off from him to the next player. 

This pick is also one half of the return on the Brandin Cooks trade. I’m not a huge fan of a first rounder pick not being healthy until training camp. He won’t start right away but could be the right tackle of the future when Zach Strief hangs it up.

Grade B-

Second Round (42nd) Marcus Williams S, Utah

Full disclosure: I had Williams in my last mock. I just had him at 76 not 42. The Saints obviously thought even higher of him than I did. It’s easy see why the Saints were attracted to him. There’s no mistaking his role. He’s is a true ball-hawking centerfielder with ten interceptions in two seasons. If he brings that skill set to New Orleans, he will be a true difference-maker.   

Grade: B+

Third Round (67th) Alvin Kamara, RB Tennessee

The Saints trade up once again to get their dual threat running back. As I reported throughout the months leading up to the draft, the Saints loved Kamara’s skill set. There’s no debating how he will be used. They view him as the next Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles. The Saints had a high second round grade on him and essentially took him as a second rounder by giving away 2018’s second round pick. I know that may be a high price but this offense desperately needs that skillset. 

Grade: A-

Third Round (76th) Alex Anzalone, LB Florida

He looks the part and has played the part when healthy. Anzalone can be a legitimate starting NFL linebacker if he can stay off the injury report. That’s a big if. He’ll join a crowded linebacker corps that has no real favorite at any of the positions. He’ll get an opportunity; it’ll be up to him prove himself. 

Grade: C+

Third Round (103rd) Trey Hendrickson, DE Florida Atlantic

Finally, the Saints took a pass rusher with the 103rd pick of the draft. This is the other half of the Brandin Cooks trade. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about him before the draft. I went back and watched a couple of his games and his motor jumps out. He doesn’t take a play off and has good hand movement for a pass rusher. He also has an uncanny ability to block kicks. He led the nation with four last year. 

With the need so high at the position, this wasn’t the choice many were expecting. But Hendrickson looks like a player that can contribute and add depth along the defensive line.

Grade: C+

Sixth Round (196th) Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE Miami

The Saints closed out the draft with two straight pass rushers. Muhammad was suspended twice in three seasons at Miami. In 2015, he had 5.0 sacks. Not much on his resume other than that.

Grade: C-

Final Grade

It’s way too early to judge this draft class. The true grade will come three years from now. Still, we live in an instant gratification world and B- feels appropriate for the moment.

Lattimore, Kamara and Williams can be instant impact players. Ramcyzk will be an eventual starter at right tackle. 

On the flipside, the Saints didn’t address pass rusher until their final two drafts despite having multiple opportunities to do so. All in all, the Saints helped themselves in key spots but also missed out on a few opportunities. 

Overall: B

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