New Orleans Saints 2014 Draft Preview

 

The Sports Network

(SportsNetwork.com) - The marquee free-agent addition of star safety Jairus Byrd teamed with last year's first-round pick in New Orleans, Kenny Vaccaro, gives Sean Payton and the Saints one of the best safety tandems in the league.

The next step on defense should be upgrading a cornerback group headlined by Keenan Lewis and descending future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey, who came over in the offseason from Denver.

Offensively, NOLA needs to fortify the offensive line, especially the tackle position and find a replacement for the underappreciated Lance Moore, who fled to Pittsburgh in free agency.

The Saints' first chance is at No. 27 overall and most of the corners worthy of that pick figure to be off the board, so shifting toward the draft's deepest position -- wide receiver -- makes sense.

Southern Cal's Marqise Lee projects as the best route runner in this year's draft and could give Drew Brees yet another solid option rather quickly. Other targets may be Oregon State speedster Brandin Cooks or edge pass rusher Dee Ford of Auburn a possible complement to pass-rushing star Cameron Jordan.

2013 Record: 11-5

Top Needs: CB, LB, OT

First Three Picks: No. 27, No. 58, No. 91

Number of Selections: 7 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6)

CALLING THE SHOTS: Long-time general manager Mickey Loomis works hand in hand with head coach Payton. After a bit of a dry spell, the Saints' brass has hit big on its last two first-round picks, Vaccaro (2013) and Jordan (2011).

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2013 - Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas); 2012 - none; 2011 - Cameron Jordan (DE, California), Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama); 2010 - Patrick Robinson (CB, Florida State); 2009 - Malcolm Jenkins (DB, Ohio State); 2008 - Sedrick Ellis (DT, USC); 2007 - Robert Meachem (WR, Tennessee); 2006 - Reggie Bush (RB, USC); 2005 - Jammal Brown (OT, Oklahoma); 2004 - Will Smith (DE, Ohio State); 2003 - Johnathan Sullivan (DT, Georgia); 2002 - Donte Stallworth (WR, Tennessee), Charles Grant (DE, Georgia).

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