Last season was a lost year for the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees spent the summer in prolonged contract negotiations, the bounty scandal hung over the team all season and removed coach Sean Payton from the franchise for the entire year, and the defense played like swiss cheese. Brees is locked and loaded this year and so too is Payton. The 2013 draft ought to be geared towards fixing a unit that allowed nearly 60 more yards per game than any other team in the league. The New Orleans defense allowed 440 yards a game. Twelve teams in the NFL allowed less than 340 yards a contest.
New Orleans lost a second rounder in the bounty scandal which puts even more pressure on their first selection. It would not be surprising if they opted to make a trade and move backwards while receiving multiple picks. Since nobody wants to read a novel on the Saints draft, though one could be written on their defensive needs, the following is a brief look at ways to use a pick or two.
A safety is needed ASAP. Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins are probably not starters on a good defense. The same is true for free agent pickup Jim Leonhard. It is not that these players aren't pieces to the puzzle, but essentially they are all complementary players who would thrive in a utility or secondary role.
New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will implement his 3-4 defense and that means linebackers are needed. Victor Butler will fill a key role. Who else will step to the forefront? Switching from a 4-3, players previously acquired will need time to learn the system and Ryan will need to be creative to get the most out of them in the 3-4. Drafting both an inside guy and an outside linebacker would be ideal.
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The additions of Keyon Coleman at defensive end and Keenan Lewis at defensive back mean those issues have been addressed to some degree. More help would be useful in both spots.
The offense is pretty much set besides the need to replace Jermon Bushrod, a rather important role since he protected Brees' backside for the past four years. It will be hard to draft an offensive linemen early knowing the significant needs on defense, but it is an area of need.
If the Saints could blow up their defense and completely start over they would. Unfortunately one off-season is not enough to completely rebuild. It is worth noting New Orleans ranked 24th in total defense two years ago and went 13-3. They were 25th in defense in 2009 and went 13-3. While the defense must improve, it simply has to get to the point of mediocrity rather than last year’s crippling mess. Defensive help can dramatically improve the Saints 7-9 mark from last season.