So much time has been spent by everyone looking at the first round (or maybe the first two), but you build out depth and role players with the second half of the draft. The list of guys that have been meaningful contributors on the Saints during the Sean Payton era that were drafted after the 2nd round, or even undrafted, need no introduction. Frankly, the list is entirely too long to recap and it would take an entire blog post on it’s own. So here are ten players the Saints should look at in the second half of the draft as I believe these guys would stand an excellent chance at making the 53 man roster and contributing down the road.
Dri Archer, RB, Kent State: At 5’8″ 173lbs he’s the smallest back in the draft. He’s also the fastest as he’s the only one that ran a sub 4.3 40 yard dash at the NFL combine. Archer could be available when the Saints pick in the 3rd round, but it’s less likely he’d still be around in the 4th. He very much reminds me of Darren Sproles as he has good pass catching ability. The big question here is whether the Saints would want to add another running back to the mix when they just got rid of Sproles because the position is too crowded. If they want to keep the element to their offense that Sproles brought, though, Archer will duplicate his production much better than Travaris Cadet in my opinion.
Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State: You know the Saints like their random schools that no one has ever heard of. Janis is 6’3″ and runs a 4.42 40. He’s projected to go in the 4th round. Even if the Saints take a receiver early, why not take a flyer on this guy? The negatives are that he’s not the most polished run router and he has inconsistent hands. Those are things that can be corrected.
Christian Kirksey, OLB, Iowa: A player that would be available in the 5th round. What the Saints are missing right now is a guy with speed that can cover and play special teams. It’s what they had with Will Herring to an extent, and if there’s any downside to Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, Junior Galette, Parys Haralson, Ramon Humber and company, it’s that they are all exploitable in coverage. Kirksey is a guy that could make the 53 man roster based on his speed and tackling, and he’d add an element in drop coverage for situational use. He also has exceptional character according to most reports.
Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame: Leaving this draft with an interior offensive lineman of some kind is a must for competition in camp. Watt is a good scheme fit that can pull, zone block, and has solid pass protection technique. He’s projected anywhere from round 3 to round 5.
Cairo Santos, K, Tulane: This should come as no surprise given his history of kicking in the Superdome. He would give Shayne Graham a worthwhile competition. I’m not saying Santos would win that job, but the Saints owe it to themselves to make sure Graham earns that job over serious competition. Santos may be a guy the Saints can get after the draft. The team currently has no 7th pick and using the 6th round selection on him may be a tad high. It could happen, though.
Deion Belue, CB, Alabama: He’s just an NFL ready well rounded player. He should be drafted sometime after the 4th round but he’s a guy that will compete hard, play well on special teams, and have the elite competition experience. He’s a battle tested player physically and mentally that you can depend on in tough game situations. I dislike Bama as much as the next LSU fan, but I’ve seen this guy play and he’d be a asset.
Josh Walker, T, Middle Tennessee State: A guy to consider in the 6th round. A very physical tackle that needs some developing, but could be an asset as a jumbo tight end in short yardage situations. The Saints need more size and physicality off the edge and he’d have a shot at being that situational player which could get him on the field in year one.
Bryan Stork, C, Florida State: We already know the Saints have looked at him and center is a need. He has the versatility to play guard and because the Saints usually only keep one reserve interior offensive lineman, that’s important. I half expect one of the 5th round picks to be used on him.
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina: A poor man’s Brandin Cooks. He can return kicks, he’s fast, and he’s a terrific playmaker. Size is the issue, of course, but he’s a guy that can stretch the field. Likely won’t last past the 4th round.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska: With all the athletic tall receivers taking over the game, corners like this are more in demand. Jean-Baptiste is a former receiver that can catch and is 6’3″. Sure he can get exposed deep, but he’s a physical beast at corner that could be especially effective as a red zone defender against big targets. He carries a 3rd t0 4th round grade but I have a feeling someone will reach for him.