Editor's note: The New Orleans Saints could justify drafting a player at nearly every position. In the days leading up to the draft, the Advocate will evaluate each of those positions and make a case for and against taking a player at each spot early in the draft.

The case for drafting a tight end

Bringing Ben Watson back was an important move.

New Orleans needed another player at the position, someone who is as adept at catching passes as he is blocking. Josh Hill provides some of that, but the team needed more from the position, which is why it entered the offseason with tight end listed as a "must."

While Watson should be a solid contributor, he isn’t the type of player who is going to create mismatches or make defensive coordinators concoct ways to stop him, which is fine. The Saints offense should be plenty explosive with the players already in the fold, especially if wide receiver Cam Meredith bounces back from his knee injury.

But stop for a moment and imagine all those players in the offense, as well as a tight end who can victimize linebackers and safeties in coverage. How do you match up with all the receivers and tight ends? What do you do about running back Alvin Kamara when he splits out or comes out of the backfield?

The vision of that theoretical offense is scary. It would be nearly impossible to stop, and that’s why New Orleans should keep the idea of taking a tight end early in the draft alive even with the addition of Watson.

The position is no longer a must. It might not even be a need. But it is an area where the offense could stack its talent and see an immediate payoff on the field. Sometimes those are the best moves.

Remember: Kamara didn’t look like a huge need last season. His addition added an element to the offense that carried New Orleans to 11 wins. The right player in this spot could have a similar impact.

The case against drafting a tight end

There are other needs on the team. Defensive end. Defensive tackle. Offensive line. All of those, if the goal is to plug holes or bolster these areas, are more immediate and pressing needs than tight end.

New Orleans can get by just fine at tight end, especially if Coby Fleener sticks around. He might not have lived up to his contract, but he does show up and make important plays at times, especially in three-receiver sets. The combination of him and Watson would probably be enough with all of the other weapons on offense.

But that thinking can get you in trouble, especially if you go after a player just to fill a gap.

“Well, again, the whole draft need thing is — I don’t really understand that,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters this week. “You put a card up on the board. That doesn’t mean the guy is a good player. I think it’s important to acquire good players wherever they are. If you take a player at a position that you might so-call “need” but he’s not good enough to fill that need, then it’s a wasted pick. So, I don’t understand the whole need thing. I understand player value, and that’s what we try to go by.”

This section is supposed to be arguing against the position, but some arguments are hard to make.

Top five

Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

Goedert makes spectacular catches the norm. His highlight reels are packed with incredible moments (which sometimes might be overdone). Not a bad blocker.

Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

He can move all over the field and is physical in his approach. He will need to improve a little bit as a blocker but has upside. Will be 25 when the season starts.

Mike Gesicki, Penn State

His workout numbers at the combine were extremely impressive. He’s a good route runner who can go up and get the ball. His blocking could need some time to develop.

Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

Runs good routes and knows how to get open. Was a weapon in the red zone last season.

Dalton Shultz, Stanford

A physical, do-it-all player. He can block. He can catch. Will likely be an asset to a team’s running game and make contested catches in traffic.


The Saints should not shy away from this position if the right player is available.

Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​