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New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) and Sheldon Rankins (98) celebrate during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus) ORG XMIT: NYFF1

The Saints enter the NFL draft with six picks. Barring a trade, the Saints will have a pick in the second round (No. 62 overall), one in the fifth round (168), two in the sixth round (177 and 202) and two in the seventh round (231 and 244).

How will the Saints use those picks when the draft rolls around on April 25-27?

Leading up to the draft, we take a look each day for the Saints.

Today, in our final segment, we look at the defensive line.

Just three short months ago, the hole didn't seem so glaring.

But on Jan. 13, things started happening and all of a sudden the Saints had to try to start looking for pieces to the puzzle for the defensive line.

Particularly to start this upcoming season.

It began when defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins tore his Achilles in the playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles, an injury that will cause him to miss the first portion of the season.

A few weeks later, defensive tackle David Onyemata was issued a misdemeanor citation after he was accused of having marijuana at his apartment, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Onyemata could possibly face disciplinary action from the league, which could further deplete the line to start the season.

Then free agency hit, and the Saints lost both defensive end Alex Okafor and tackle Tyeler Davison. Okafor signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and Davison with the rival Atlanta Falcons.

So Sean Payton knew how important finding some quality defensive lineman was this offseason.

"It was a must position," Payton said in March.

The team landed two defensive linemen so far in free agency when they signed Malcom Brown, who played previously with the New England Patriots, and Mario Edwards Jr., who played last season with the New York Giants.

But the Saints should still be looking to add more depth up front either during the draft or in the remainder of free agency.

Here's why. 

The team had seven different defensive linemen to record sacks last season. Only three of those seven (Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and Taylor Stallworth) will be playing when the season opens if Onyemana gets suspended for games. Rankins, Onyemata, Okafor and Davison accounted for 18.5 of the defensive line's 36 sacks last season. They also combined for 134 of the D-line's 221 tackles (60.6%). Of course, Brown and Edwards would help make up for some of that. But still, the team needs some depth. 

Jordan, Davenport and Trey Henrickson are the defensive ends on the roster. If both Rankins and Onyemata are out to start the season, that leaves only Taylor Stallworth, Brown and Edwards at tackle.  

The Saints select …

If recent draft history is any indication, the Saints will add to their defensive front.

The team has drafted at least one defensive linemen in each of the past four drafts, including two in 2016 when they chose both Rankins and Onyemata. They have picked 14 defensive linemen in the 13 drafts of the Sean Payton era. This year should be no different.

The team could stand to add depth on both the edge and on the inside. Fortunately, this year's draft is deep at both. Ohio State's Nick Bosa is considered by most as the top defensive end (some have him as the top prospect period) in this draft but he'll be long gone before the Saints pick. Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson is an end projected as a second or third rounder. There are others like Boston College's Zach Allen and Florida's Jachai Polite. As far as tackles, Jeffrey Simmons of Mississippi State could be a steal if team is willing to wait on a player recovering from a torn ACL.

The team reportedly hosted a visit with Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery, who played in high school at Evangel Christian. If they want to go the small school route again and seek out a sleeper like they did last year with Davenport out of University of Texas-San Antonio, there's Western Illinois defensive tackle Khalen Saunders. More high-profile players like Alabama's Isaiah Buggs and Washington's Greg Gaines will be among the best players available when the Saints pick.

The good news is if the Saints don't find what they are looking for in the draft, they could still perhaps get some quality depth in the second wave of free agency. Guys like Timmy Jernigan (Eagles) and Allen Bailey (Chiefs) could still be available.

Previous draft previews

Saturday — Special teams

Sunday — Quarterbacks

Monday — Running backs

Tuesday — Linebackers

Wednesday — Offensive line

Thursday — Secondary

Saturday — Wide receivers


Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.