On the Clock: New Orleans Saints
Team needs: Safety, linebacker, running back
|Paul Jasienski/Getty Images|
|Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins offers the versatility to play cornerback and safety.|
Dream scenario: The Saints are without second- and third-round picks because of last year's trades for Jonathan Vilma and Jeremy Shockey. That leaves them without any picks between their first-rounder (No. 14) and No. 116 in Round 4. In an ideal situation, the Saints could drop down a few spots and perhaps add another pick or two. Whatever happens, there are lots of indications that they'll target defense with the first pick. That's what they've worked on the entire offseason after the defense struggled mightily and cost the Saints a playoff spot last year. They've done a nice job bringing in some veterans through free agency with guys like cornerback Jabari Greer and safety Darren Sharper joining the mix. But it might be wise to keep adding to that secondary. Malcolm Jenkins has the skills to play either cornerback or safety and he has a nose for the ball. He could be brought along as a role player at first and be the eventual replacement for Sharper. The Saints likely would consider him at No. 14, but an even better situation would be trading down a few spots, adding a draft pick and still landing Jenkins.
Plan B: As great as the need to improve the defense is, there's still an outside chance the Saints could use their first pick to address the one area of their offense that's not fully stocked: Running back. Coach Sean Payton has made it no secret the Saints would like to get a power back to go with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells fits that profile nicely, although the Saints probably could get a big runner later in the draft or in free agency.
Scouts Inc. take: "You would think that they would go defense. At first, I'd think they have to go corner with Jenkins or Vontae Davis. But the more I think about it, I'm going to go with Beanie Wells. The Saints can help their defense as much with a power runner as they could with a defensive player. They need somebody that can grind out some yards and help run the clock at the end of a game. Look at every other team in their division: They all have power runners. The Saints aren't going to stop throwing the ball because they've got Drew Brees. But they need someone like Wells to help them protect leads." -- Jeremy Green, Scouts Inc.
Who has final say: The ultimate decision rests with general manager Mickey Loomis. But he and Payton work closely together and generally have no problem reaching conclusions. One other guy to keep an eye on in this draft is defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He was brought in at a big price to straighten out this defense, and so far the Saints have given him every available resource. Williams could have a big say in what the Saints do.
Now On the Clock: Washington Redskins, April 3.