The New Orleans Saints need to get this off-season right because they are so close to being a playoff team. I mean, a few more wins this last season and they were a playoff team. Would they have done anything in the postseason? Probably not.
But, with the right pieces in the draft this offseason, they could get where they want to be in 2023. This team needs help at almost every position though, so it will be hard to mess this one up.
Their first pick in the draft is at 40, an early pick in the second round. This season their first-round pick goes to the Eagles.
Here are three game-changers they could find in the area of their first pick.
Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
The former Bama cornerback is one of the best in the draft, I’d go as far as to say a top-five cornerback in the draft. He didn’t play a ton in 2022, as he transferred from LSU to Alabama, but his production was still great. per Pro Football Focus, in 2022 he allowed six catches on 19 targets for 77 yards with five pass-breakups on the year. Ricks is part of what was a great secondary in Alabama. He could be a game changer as his potential is through the roof. Not to mention, cornerback is one of the Saints’ biggest needs. Imagine he and Alontae Taylor over the next few years.
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt
The Saints are in desperate need of some guys on the interior side of the defensive line that can create havoc. They need a guy who can plug gaps and lanes in the run game, but is also athletic enough to get to the quarterback. Kancey can be that guy. He has the potential to be a game-wrecker, especially when you put him beside Cam Jordan. Per PFF, Kancey led all interior defenders with a 92.4 pass-rushing grade this past fall. He could truly be a game changer in the right system, which looks like it could be in New Orleans.
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
I know, some of you will think how will the Saints get Hooker at 40? Well, he is the 91st-ranked player in the draft by PFF’s standards, but I think he could be taken as early as the second round. His skill set is legit, and you likely saw it at Tennessee as they beat up and blew out nearly everyone they played. Despite the injury, Hooker is pro-ready and can make almost any throw with a combination of speed and footwork in the pocket. I think if the Saints want a quarterback with their first pick, which they don’t have to do, they need to get Hooker early. He will be a game-changer for someone.
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