The long pause about Sean Payton returning to NFL was broken on January 31, 2023, when it was announced that he would be the Denver Broncos’ new head coach. It is a win-win situation for everyone. New Orleans now has a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Total compensation for the trade includes Denver’s first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick. In return, along with trading Payton, the Saints gave Denver their 2024 third-round pick. Therefore, New Orleans now owns the 29th overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Saints Quarterback Situation
Let’s face it everyone saw this coming when Drew Brees retired in 2020. When Payton signed Jameis Winston, most of us knew it was only a short-term solution; however, it didn’t even get to that point. Winston has been dealing with injuries ever since he arrived, which has affected the whole offense of the Saints, including the running game and the overall team. From a statistics standpoint, the offense has fallen from being one of the league’s best groups. Since 2021, they have been ranked near the bottom of the league in total offense. That’s a far cry from where the team was consistently recognized as a top-five offense.
Since the Saints have a first-round pick, they can use it in many ways, such as packaging the selection and future assets to acquire a well-known name at the position. The big names are Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson, and Derek Carr. The Saints can trade their first-round pick or future assets to acquire the quarterbacks, or if they want to wait, they can package those picks to move up in the 2023 draft. As we stated earlier, the Saints have been in the bottom half in terms of offensive stats, and for that to change, they need to draft overall excellent and talented players. We have listed below four picks that will help the Saints in the short and long run.
Saints QB Search Latest Update: At the time of this writing, the Saints were tabbed as the top landing spot for soon-to-be-released Raiders QB Derek Carr. That still might be the case, but they will have to try harder to sign him. Carr rejected the trade package that would have been sent to New Orleans in exchange for draft compensation that the Raiders would have received. Instead, Carr will be released and have an opportunity to be courted by many teams interested in his services. Reports have stated that teams such as the Jets and division foe, the Panthers, could be interested. Also, MMQB reporter Albert Breer said that Baker Mayfield could also be an option for the Saints if the opportunity to sign Carr falls through.
Pick 29: Rashee Rice. SMU, WR
Height: 6-2. Weight: 200
Rashee Rice is one of the most coveted wide receivers in this draft class due to his balanced skill set and explosive play-making ability. Rice could be that player that takes on the role of a possession receiver and is an asset that can also play on the outside. His big break came during his senior season at SMU, where he played all 12 games, had 96 receptions for 1,344 yards, and had ten touchdowns. These achievements earned him many awards and titles, increasing his draft stock. The Saints could benefit from a player like Rice, especially with Chris Olave already in the starting lineup and Michael Thomas’s unpredictability. With the 29th pick overall in the draft, it is highly recommended that the Saints pick up Rice, as it would be an overall beneficial decision for the organization.
PICK 40: Hendon Hooker. Tennessee QB
Height: 6-4. Weight: 208
Hands: 10 ½. Arm: 32 ¾. Span: 79
Even if the Saints could sign a quarterback like Carr or Rodgers, they still need to consider taking one in this year’s draft. Because the reality is that Carr may continue to play at a high level for about four seasons. That’s why it’s imperative to develop a younger QB that can take over soon. In 2022 while playing for Tennessee, Hooker threw for 3,135 yards and 27TDs and rushed for 786 yards. Hooker is above average in terms of size and wingspan compared to other QBs in the 2023 draft class, and he can be a quarterback around whom a team can be built. With the changing dynamics of the NFL, where more and more dual-threat quarterbacks are coming in, we believe that Hooker can be the next franchise QB for the Saints.
Saints QB Search Latest Update: At the time of this writing, the Saints were tabbed as the top landing spot for soon-to-be-released Raiders QB Derek Carr. That still might be the case, but they will have to try harder to sign him. Carr rejected the trade package that would have been sent to New Orleans in exchange for draft compensation that the Raiders would have received. Instead, Carr will be released and have an opportunity to be courted by many teams interested in his services. Reports have stated that teams such as the Jets and division foe, the Panthers, could be interested. Also, MMQB reporter Albert Breer noted that Baker Mayfield could also be an option for the Saints if the opportunity to sign Carr falls through.
PICK 71: Zach Charbonnet. UCLA, RB
Height: 6-1. Weight: 220
Standing at 6-1, Zach Charbonnet is one of the tallest running backs in the 2023 NFL draft. In terms of built and overall strength, he can be compared to Derrick Henry. Charbonnet had a fantastic college career at UCLA. As a senior, he ran 194 times for 1,358 yards at a fantastic average of 7.0 yards per carry. The star back also caught 37 passes for 320 yards. Charbonnet’s strengths include being a bull rusher with good power, breaking tackles in a crowd, and gaining extra yards.
He can maintain his agility throughout the game. His weakness includes being a weak pass protector and having poor catching ability. Charbonnet is a traditional running back; along with someone like Alvin Kamara or any other dual-threat RB, Charbonnet can significantly benefit the Saints. He will be a good pick in the third round.
PICK 115: Rashad Torrence ll. Florida, Safety
Height: 6-0. Weight: 202
Rashad Torrence will be a steal in the fourth round. Torrence is a balanced safety which is extremely good at tackling, covering, and pressing the opposing players. Torrence can quickly maneuver and is very good at route recognition. He also has quick feet and excellent change-of-direction ability. His weakness includes slightly below-average run defense and zone coverage. Overall he had an outstanding college career with the Gators.
Despite their offensive troubles, New Orleans had a good year in terms of defense. They were ranked fifth in total defense and amazingly second against the pass, only behind the Philadelphia Eagles. So, overall, the Saints’ secondary is good and having someone like Torrence will further strengthen the group and the Saints’ overall defense.
During the draft week, every team will draft the best player who, in their opinion, can best serve their needs. The Saints’ offense is in dire need of an around overhaul. The players listed in this article might not be able to solve everything overnight, but these players will help the Saints get on the right path.
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