Saints Giants Football

New Orleans Saints' Demario Davis, left, celebrates his sack with Alex Anzalone during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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 (from least-needed position to biggest need) for the Saints.

Saints draft preview: Quarterback room filled with talent, so drafting another one unlikely

Today, we look at linebackers.

There was a time when the Saints were desperately seeking linebackers.

Just flash back to the 2014 and 2015 drafts, when the team selected five linebackers.

None of those five (Ronald Powell, Khairi Fortt, Stephone Anthony, Davis Tull and Hau'oli Kihaha) are still on the roster.

Now fast-forward to this year's draft, and linebacker isn't such a key need.

The reasons are simple.

Demario Davis came to New Orleans in free agency last year. And Alex Anzalone got healthy.

And just like that, the Saints all of a sudden solidified themselves at the position.

But when the draft rolls around next week, they could still add some depth at the position. But they won't have to be trying to find someone to contribute right away.

Saints draft preview: With Kamara and Murray, Saints don't see RB as a 'must position'

When the Saints signed Davis a year ago, it was arguably the biggest offseason acquisition in the NFL.

You could make an argument for the Colts signing tight end Eric Ebron, who caught 13 touchdown passes.

But when it's all said and done, the Saints getting Davis could go down as the team's best free-agent signing ever, other than when they lured Drew Brees to New Orleans back in 2006.

Davis solidified a linebackers corps that desperately needed it and is a big reason the unit isn't in dire need of a playmaker like it has been in years past.

His 110 tackles led the Saints and included five sacks and 11 quarterback hits. He and Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis were the only two players in the league to record at least 100 tackles, five sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

He's a part of a versatile trio with Alex Anzalone and A.J. Klein.

Anzalone, the last linebacker the Saints drafted (chosen in the third round of the 2017 draft just nine spots behind Alvin Kamara) showed last season what he could do. He displayed the athleticism and play-making ability that made the Saints covet him when he was coming out of Florida.

Anzalone recorded 59 tackles and 3 tackles for loss, bouncing back from a rookie season when he played in just four games because of a shoulder injury. His season was filled with highlights, including a tackle that forced a fumble and helped seal a win over the Minnesota Vikings. A week later, he snagged an interception to set up a touchdown in the regular-season victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

And then there is Klein, who recorded a career-best 70 tackles and tied a career high with seven tackles for loss. Klein is in the final year of the three-year deal he signed in 2017 after playing the first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

So yes, the Saints may need to look in the draft for a linebacker to replace Klein if this is his final season in New Orleans. Also, the team hasn't re-signed free agent Manti Te'o, who played in just five games last season and spent several weeks on the inactive list. Te'o has visited both the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders.

Linebacker Craig Robertson, more of a special-teams standout, is also back and gives the team some depth at the position.

The Saints select....

Like running back, this is a position where the Saints might be looking to add some depth. Barring a trade, game-changing linebackers like LSU's Devin White or Michigan's Devin Bush will be long gone before the Saints' late second-round pick. But there should be some quality players at the position like Mack Wilson (Alabama), Vosean Joseph (Florida) and Terrill Hanks (New Mexico State). Or the Saints could take their chances on a small-school linebacker like Idaho's Kaden Elliss. The Saints had a visit with Elliss, according to a report by the NFL Network. Elliss wasn't one of the players invited to the NFL combine, but he had an impressive showing at his school's pro day and could be a sleeper at linebacker.

Previous Draft Previews

Saturday - Special Teams

Sunday - Quarterbacks

Monday - Running backs


Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.