Perfect Picks 2024: New Orleans Saints

It’s difficult to define the New Orleans Saints under Dennis Allen. His record over the last two years is 16-18, and even with a recognized quarterback at the helm in Derek Carr, it wasn’t enough to take them to the top of a weak NFC South. The roster has been transforming away from big contracts to solid, young role players.

That said, divisional rivals Atlanta forked out for a franchise QB in Kirk Cousins, and the Bucs surprised many last year with Baker Mayfield at the helm. Even the Panthers have loaded up around Bryce Young. Now is the time to invest in talent, and the Saints need to find their next crop of stars through the NFL Draft.

Round 1 - Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

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The worrying news that Ryan Ramczyk may not fully recover from knee surgery, means the Saints have an undeniable and large hole along their offensive line. Pair that with the disappointing performance of recent draft pick Trevor Penning, and it makes for grim viewing on the o-line. That’s why, in a draft laden with talent at the position, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Saints revisit the spot.

Had Olu Fashanu declared for the draft last year he may have been a top 5 selection. Now after staying in school for another year, his stock seems to be taking a last-minute dip. A lot of that is down to his Ohio State tape where he gets bullied by JT Tuimoloau. While he needs to work on his anchor, his footwork and athleticism are elite. At such a young age Fashanu has the ability to work out the kinks and be a top-shelf NFL tackle.

Round 2 - Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

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The Michael Thomas era is over in New Orleans. It was a strange end to what had been a hugely successful marriage up until the last couple of seasons. So now, it’s Chris Olave’s show, but he could certainly do with some help in the receiver room. AT Perry flashed at times as a rookie, and Rashid Shaheed has the slot role well-manned. There does however, remain room for a big-bodied receiver in the group.

In walks Keon Coleman. The Florida State receiver may not have tested the quickest, with a 4.6 40-yard dash, but his GPS data suggest he plays much faster. He has the ability to climb above cornerbacks and dominate them physically. Early in the season, he flashed like a guaranteed first-rounder, but at times he went missing in the Seminoles’ offense, which was stacked with talent. That means he could be available here for the Saints and represent excellent value.

Mid Round Gem - Trey Taylor, S, Air Force

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The Saints chose to move on from veteran safety Marcus Maye this season. It was a combination of saving money and moving on from a player who had struggled to stay healthy. In his absence last year, Jordan Howden emerged, pairing with Tyrann Mathieu and Jonathan Abram acting as first reserve. Now 31, Mathieu has recently signed a two-year extension, but finding a long-term replacement should be on the agenda in New Orleans.

One player who could fit that mould is Air Force safety Trey Taylor. He certainly has the resume, as the 2023 Jim Thorpe award winner, given to the country’s top defensive back. Add that to some NFL bloodlines. Taylor is NFL icon Ed Reed’s cousin and has clearly taken some hints from the Baltimore Ravens legend.

The majority of Taylor’s snaps have come as a box safety, and he displays plenty of pop in the tackle. He led the Falcons defense last year with 69 tackles. Pair that with a PFF coverage grade of 90.3, and you can see the similarities with Mathieu. Taylor is undoubtedly a playmaker and would benefit from learning the ropes and backing up Mathieu early in his career.

Late Round Sleeper - Joe Milton, QB, Tennessee

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Since Drew Brees retired, the Saints have been in quarterback purgatory. They have constantly bounced around mid-level guys looking for short-term answers, including Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Taysom Hill, the ‘offensive weapon’. That instability at the position was meant to have come to an end with the big-money signing of Derek Carr.

However, now 33, Carr has looked the epitome of what NFL commentators have dubbed the ‘Dalton Scale’. Basically, the definition of league average at the position. Considering the money the Saints are forking out for Carr, this is less than ideal. While I don’t expect them to attack the position with a high draft pick and directly challenge Carr, they should be taking regular swings at the position.

Sharing similarities with Jameis Winston is late-round prospect Joe Milton, out of Tennessee. Milton started life at Michigan and earned rave reviews in spring practice due to his ridiculous arm strength. However, the buzz was soon killed when he failed to beat out Cade McNamara and was forced to look elsewhere for a starting job.

The thought process was that by backing up Hendon Hooker in Tennessee, Milton could step into a favourable environment and boost his draft stock. Milton did play well enough as a Vol, but familiar issues continued to plague his game and, ultimately, his standing in this draft class.

In shorts and a t-shirt, Milton will always wow. He is physically commanding and can launch a ball deep downfield with seemingly little effort. However, Milton’s accuracy becomes scattergun when the bullets start flying in live action. It’s a problem he has failed to shake, meaning he will have to start life as a backup in the NFL. The talent is clear, but whether he can develop that into something workable in the toughest position in the game is unclear. It’s certainly worth the late-round flyer from the Saints’ perspective though. 

Draft in full

Round 1 – Olu Fashaun, OT, Penn State

Round 2 – Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Round 5 – Nehemiah Pritchett, CB, Auburn

Round 5 – Jaylen Harrell, Edge, Michigan

Round 5 – Trey Taylor, S, Air Force

Round 5 – Joe Milton III, QB, Tennessee

Round 6 – Marcus Harris, DT, Auburn

Round 6 – Jordan Whittington, WR, Texas

Round 7 – Kingsley Eguakun, C, Florida

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at