The draft-day hysteria began early when a reporter from the in-house NFL Network said the Saints were making calls to other teams about possibly trading up in the first round. Ian Rappaport reported that the Saints were interested in “likely a quarterback to be the heir apparent to Drew Brees.”
It was a great piece of subterfuge planted by the Saints. The Saints, indeed, traded up – but for defensive end Marcus Davenport.
For a Super Bowl contender to trade up and surrender valuable additional draft choices for a quarterback who would sit the bench for multiple years didn’t add up. Brees shows no signs of diminished play.
Last season may have been one of his best years, according to Cian Fahey, who each year writes an exhaustively detailed treatise, evaluating every pass thrown by a quarterback in an NFL game from the previous season. It is called “Pre Snap Reads.”
Using his own metrics to judge accuracy, Fahey noted Brees was the most accurate passer in the NFL, at a rate of 80.61 percent. Of the 557 attempts that qualified under Fahey’s system, 449 of those throws were accurate. According to “Pre Snap Reads,” Brees was more than 2 percent better in accuracy than Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Fahey said Brees was either first or second in accuracy in short throws, underneath throws, and deep throws – that is, throws of 21 yards or more. Fahey said Brees was also best in throws that traveled farther than 10 yards downfield and arrived outside the numbers.
“Pre Snap Reads” said Brees also was the most accurate throwing screens and most accurate throwing with play-action fakes and without play action.
Drew Brees has made hundreds of great throws since becoming a Saint in 2006, but none better than his pass for a first down on fourth-and-10 late in January’s playoff game against the Vikings. With three defenders near wide receiver Willie Snead to his right and just behind him – and with the sideline to the left – Brees dropped a throw in a bucket to Snead for a first down.
That throw set up the go-ahead field goal by Wil Lutz. It was a Hall of Fame toss if there ever was one.
Yet, on draft night, announcers on one network were convinced when the Saints traded up that a quarterback was the reason why. Give Mike Mayock of NFL Network credit for saying the pick could be Davenport, a player the Saints obviously coveted.
The trade was pricey. As part of it, the Saints sent the Green Bay Packers a 2019 first-round draft choice.
The Saints weren’t the only Super Bowl contender rumored to be shopping for a quarterback. The New England Patriots were also supposedly all in on drafting a potential replacement for Tom Brady. They did draft a signal caller, LSU’s Danny Etling, in the seventh round.
The Saints aren’t in a hurry to replace their Hall of Fame quarterback, and neither are the Patriots.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.