Here are 10 thoughts on the Saints, their draft class and where things stand as April turns to May:
1. The pick of Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas should help the offense. Looking at his numbers won’t do him justice. You have to go to his film and really watch his traits and try to project that to what he could do for this offense. The Saints didn’t have a sure option to replace Marques Colston. It’s not clear if Thomas will be that guy, but he knows how to use his 6-foot-3 frame to make catches in traffic and has great hands.
2. A lot of teams like to acquire as many picks as possible to maximize the number of times they get to step to the plate. The thinking is, the draft is an inexact science, and the more picks you have, the more chances you have of hitting on one. The Saints do the opposite. They like to trade up and go after their guys. They did so twice in the past two days — first with Ohio State safety Vonn Bell in the second round Friday and then with Manitoba defensive tackle David Onyemata in the fourth.
3. There’s nothing wrong with trading up. Maybe it’s better to make the move if you have a conviction about a player. The thing with the draft is that you have to hit on your picks. Having five or 15 doesn’t matter if you aren’t drafting well. It will take time to see if it works out, but for the second year in a row, the theory behind the picks makes sense.
4. One of the criticisms on social media during the draft is that the front office hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt from the fan base because of previous drafts. It’s important to remember Jeff Ireland is now running things, and this is his second draft with the team. With Stephone Anthony, Damian Swann and Hau’oli Kikaha from last year’s draft, as well as 2015 No. 13 pick Andrus Peat, it looks like he’s on the right path. We’ll find out if cornerback P.J. Williams and pass-rusher Davis Tull, who missed their rookie seasons due to injuries, work out. Overall, it looks like he’s on the right track.
5. But after only making five picks, and with holes at several spots, some of that goodwill could evaporate if three or four of these guys don’t contribute positively in some form or fashion. That’s the risk of having such a small number of picks and directly targeting players through trades.
6. There’s no reason to complain about the trades. New Orleans came out ahead on the trade value chart on the first one with New England and got the player (Bell) it wanted (the Saints gave up 272 points to gain 290). The second trade, used to snag Onyemata on Saturday, cost New Orleans only a fifth this year and fifth next year. That isn’t much.
7. It will be interesting to see what the Saints do with Bell. The team liked to use three safeties two seasons ago, and that was when the defense was at its best. Could the Saints move Kenny Vaccaro down to weakside linebacker in some nickel sets to get everyone on the field? It would be an interesting wrinkle.
8. A lot of people jumped to the conclusion New Orleans would target a cornerback in the draft because of their recent pursuit of free agent Josh Norman. That didn’t happen. If Vernon Hargreaves had slipped past Tampa Bay in the first round, it’s possible the team would have selected him, but that didn’t happen. It appears the Saints feel comfortable with what they have at the position.
9. Do the Saints feel good at guard? It felt like one of the musts of this draft, but it wasn’t a priority early on. Is that due to the value not matching up or confidence in the position? Tim Lelito, Senio Kelemete and Peat could all compete at the position next season. It would be nice to have another player to add competition.
10. So, about all that talk about the Saints drafting a quarterback ... Drew Brees is still the man. Time to get that extension done.