Saints’ draft vision of future didn’t include a Tiger

Are you concerned that the Saints didn’t get the pass rush help they needed in the draft?

If so, here’s some numbers. The Super Bowl champion Patriots and the NFC champion Falcons each had 34 quarterback sacks last season. That is four more sacks than your 7-9 New Orleans Saints.

There are plenty of other bigger worries. With the 11th pick, the Saints drafted Marshon Lattimore, a talented cornerback who has played only one full season due to chronic hamstring issues.

The second pick in the first round, offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, had hip surgery after Wisconsin’s bowl game.

One of three third-round picks, linebacker Alex Anzalone, had recurring shoulder issues and a broken left arm. NFL.com had a succinct summary of Anzalone’s college career: “He spent as much time on the training table as on the field.”

Sixth-round pick Al-Quadin Muhammad of Miami served a yearlong suspension in 2014 for punching a teammate. He was then dismissed before the 2016 season for receiving illegal benefits from a rental car company. That’s right: He didn’t play a down of football last season.

And, just for some lagniappe, the Saints traded up to get back in the third round and select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara. Sean Payton was obviously infatuated with Kamara. The Saints traded a 2018 second-round pick and seventh-round choice to move up.

Yet, when the draft ended Saturday afternoon, Payton was as optimistic as he’s been in recent memory about his draft class.

“We have clear visions, clear, for all of these players and how they are gonna be used,” said Payton. “We felt very good. More so this year than I can recall in a long time.”

Let’s hope Payton is correct. With six selections in the first three rounds, the Saints have a chance to close the gap with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have aced the last two drafts, a reason why they have one of the most talented young rosters in the NFL.

In the meantime, defensive tackle Al Woods continues to be the answer to a trivia question that has become a burr in the saddle of many LSU fans. Yes, Woods was the last LSU Tiger drafted by the Saints, in 2010.

But, let’s be honest. The Saints didn’t have much of an opportunity to draft a Tiger in 2017. Running back Leonard Fournette and safety Jamal Adams were selected fourth and sixth overall.

The Saints were not going to trade up in the first round to select cornerback Tre’Davious White, whom Buffalo selected 27th overall. Center Ethan Pocic went 58th overall to Seattle,16 slots after the Saints chose Utah safety Marcus Williams.

So, the wait continues for a Tiger to go from purple and gold to black and gold.

Despite a very average win-loss record since 2012, the Tigers were the leaders with players on 2016 opening day NFL rosters with 42. USC and Florida State were second with 36.

Alabama was fourth with 35.

If the Saints make the playoffs in 2017, the LSU hue and cry will abate. If not, that question will be the proverbial elephant in the room.

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.
 

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