The Saints have revamped their secondary over the past two seasons and have quality starters for the four base positions.
At cornerback, if all goes to plan, New Orleans will roll out the imposing duo of Brandon Browner and Keenan Lewis, with safeties Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro providing help over the top.
But since the majority of the defense is played in nickel packages, which requires a third cornerback to take the field, the team could still use some help in this area.
It’s possible that player is already on the roster in the form of Kyle Wilson, Terrence Frederick, Brian Dixon, or CFL import Delvin Breaux, but it’s also possible that player is not yet in the building.
One of the fatal flaws from last season’s roster was that the Saints put too much faith in Champ Bailey’s ability to lock down a starting job and the team never recovered when he failed to make the roster. The lesson: You can never have too much depth at cornerback.
If the Saints look to add another body at this position, here’s a look at a handful of guys the team could target in the first five rounds of the draft.
Targets at 13
Trae Waynes, Michigan State: Waynes is long, possesses plus speed and is strong in press-man coverage, which New Orleans could look to play more of next season. The only issue is that he struggles with quick receivers and could have issues in the nickel role.
Jalen Collins, LSU: The 6-foot-1 Collins has the kind of height the Saints covet in cornerbacks and was better in coverage last season than many gave him credit for. Collins, according to Pro Football Focus, was targeted 44 times and allowed 18 receptions last season.
Targets at 31
Marcus Peters, Washington: Peters would have a chance to be the first cornerback selected in the draft if not for character issues that led to his dismissal from Washington last season. If he proves those issues are behind him, he could be a great value at this spot — assuming he lasts.
Byron Jones, Connecticut: Jones is one of the most athletic players in the draft and also performed well on the field last season. At 6-1, he also comes with the kind of length the Saints covet.
Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest: Johnson has the ability to play well in any coverage and is fluid enough to cover the slot while he bides his time. There are questions about his ability to help in run support.
Targets at 44
Ronald Darby, Florida State: His recent DUI arrest could drop him down draft boards. The Saints had shown some interest in Darby before this incident, which means he can’t be entirely dismissed.
Targets at 75 and 78
D’Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic: Smith is very athletic and often got his hands on the ball. The question is if he excelled because of the level of competition and if he is polished enough to make a quick impact at the next level.
Targets at 154
Cam Thomas, Western Kentucky: Possesses good size an anticipation, but he’s raw and will need to develop a bit more at the next level.
Lorenzo Doss, Tulane: Shows good instincts and does most everything well. The only issue is that Doss developed a reputation for freelancing too often.