- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Geez … what a tough grader. I'm not sure how much more the Saints could have done to earn at least an A-minus, considering they only had five picks and no second-rounder. Their top pick, safety Kenny Vaccaro at No. 15, was widely considered among the best defensive rookies in the NFL. Fifth-round receiver Kenny Stills far exceeded expectations with a big year as the Saints' No. 2 receiver. And third-round defensive tackle John Jenkins immediately contributed as a part-time member of the Saints' revamped defense.
The key to this class' ultimate grade, however, will be third-round offensive tackle Terron Armstead. He showed promise when he was thrust into the starting left tackle job late in the season. If he can develop into a standout starter at that critical position, then the Saints will definitely earn an A when Kiper and other analysts take a look at this class down the road. It's often said that it takes three years to fairly evaluate a draft class. So we'll make sure to check back in 2016.
The Saints deserve some extra credit, as well, for their undrafted free-agent haul last season. The Saints wound up with seven undrafted rookies on their roster by the end of the season: running back Khiry Robinson, defensive end Glenn Foster, guard Tim Lelito, tight end Josh Hill, cornerback Rod Sweeting, linebacker Kevin Reddick and quarterback Ryan Griffin.
Earlier this week, the Saints' website asked fans to vote for the most impressive offensive rookie from 2013, which I thought was an interesting question. Stills won with 46 percent of the vote, which makes sense since he was the biggest contributor from beginning to end. But I thought Robinson's strong finish might make it a closer race. (He finished with 25 percent.) And if Armstead (20 percent) builds on his potential, he might wind up passing them both up.