It would be a luxury if the Saints used an early pick on a wide receiver.
There’s no way around it. The offense was one of the best units in the league last year. The defense was one of the worst units in the league last year. You can attempt to create new formulas or fudge the numbers, but the math is always going to come out the same.
Defense is needed.
This team is always going to find a way to move the ball as long as Drew Brees and Sean Payton are in town, and the biggest offseason acquisition, tight end Coby Fleener, will help cover some of the production lost by releasing Marques Colston this offseason.
So that means it would be a mistake or a poor allocation of resources to use a pick on a wide receiver in the early rounds of the draft, right? Not necessarily.
It shouldn’t be viewed in such black-and-white terms. Nothing is ever that simple.
First off, it should be stated that even though wide receiver isn’t a must, the position isn’t exactly loaded. Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead provide steady options at the top of the depth chart, but the third receiver, Brandon Coleman, will be leaned upon for the first time in his career to play a significant role.
Go further down, and there isn’t another name on the depth chart that stands out.
At the very least, New Orleans could use a fourth option at the position that is a sure — or surer — thing than those currently on the roster. On the other end of the spectrum, the Saints could use an explosive No. 2 receiver to take some of the pressure off Cooks and make this offense more potent.
If the Saints take the second option, the question then becomes what kind of receiver should they target.
There have been many cases made for Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell to be the pick at No. 12. He would provide a big body for the offense, knows how to patrol the shorter and middle portions of the field like Colston, and his presence in the red zone would be a benefit to this team.
As good as Cooks and Snead were last season, the New Orleans offense missed having a big-bodied target when things became congested in the red area. Treadwell would change that, and he’d probably make people forget about Colston.
The other early option would be drafting someone like Ohio State’s Michael Thomas. He’s more of a vertical threat than Treadwell and would fill a void in the offense that has existed since Devery Henderson left town.
Bringing a player who is more a vertical threat would help take some pressure off the other players and open things up underneath. This would especially help Cooks, who could then run more underneath routes, such as slants, where he’s often a weapon after getting the ball in his hands.
New Orleans has been looking for this type of player for a long time. It’s the reason why Joe Morgan was given countless chances to make the roster. While Cooks is a solid vertical threat, and would certainly still run those routes even after someone else was brought in, it would be beneficial if he wasn’t the only guy going deep.
If nothing else, it would give Payton more options. And more options are always good.
Either type of player would make this team better on offense. And as Mickey Loomis once said, you can help your defense by getting better on offense.
Does that mean the Saints should be eying a wide receiver in the first or second round? Not exclusively, but they shouldn’t be locked in at any position. There are enough areas where this team can improve that it should go into each pick looking to take the best available player.
That might mean a defensive tackle, guard or a pass rusher. It could also mean a receiver. The view should be about what’s best for the franchise in five years, not what’s best in five months when the season starts.
If that player happens to be a wide receiver, it won’t be hard to justify the pick.
Not all luxuries are senseless.