The New Orleans Saints 2021 NFL Draft recap is here. The team from Louisiana held six picks in the draft as they looked to fill gaps on their current roster after a big retirement and several free agency departures. The Saints came into the draft with several positions of need, and the front office needed to use all their skill and knowledge to do that. It is time to assess the New Orleans Saints 2021 Draft class.
1.28 | New Orleans Saints | Payton Turner | DE | Houston
Houston’s Payton Turner is a stocky, powerful defensive end with a ton of power. He isn’t a like-for-like replacement for speed rusher Trey Hendrickson who left in free agency; however, Turner totaled 10.5 sacks last year and captained the team. He may get viewed as the long-term solution after Cam Jordan. In small spaces allied to his thick build, Turner’s power makes him an ideal candidate to play defensive end for the Saints.
Add that to his high character, and the New Orleans Saints 2021 NFL Draft got off to a solid start with this pick. Turner can collapse the pocket on the inside and has the build and power to eat multiple blockers. He is a fabulous tackler due to his technique of sitting low and wrapping his arms. It wasn’t the sexiest pick; nonetheless, it was a brilliant pick.
2.60 | New Orleans Saints | Pete Werner | LB | Ohio State University
Pete Werner could turn out to be the steal of the New Orleans Saints 2021 NFL Draft. Alex Anzalone and Kwon Alexander left the franchise in free agency; meanwhile, Demario Davis is not getting younger. Werner can slot right next to Davis as a rookie. The 242 pounder is a wiry, athletic individual who plays with his hair on fire. Werner rampages from sideline to sideline, making tackle after tackle. In 2020, he topped the tackle charts for the Buckeyes with 54.
He is another high character individual that was known as a locker room leader in Ohio. The Saints may have got their franchise linebacker with this pick; Werner epitomizes every intangible and impressive physical trait. He excels in the tackle box against the run, plus he is quick and intelligent enough to match tight-ends in pass coverage.
3.76 | New Orleans Saints | Paulson Adebo | CB | Stanford
This pick summed up the New Orleans Saints 2021 NFL Draft and their drafting philosophy. The Saints love utilizing nickel and dime packages, almost more than any other team. Paulson Adebo fits that strategy perfectly. Adebo is a ball-hawking player who holds quick feet, smooth hips, and impressive tracking ability. Adebo may be a tad undersized, specifically if he gets matched up with a bigger slot receiver; despite that, Adebo is a rangy player with excellent hands and a great work ethic. He is an ideal player to take the slot cornerback role.
3.133 | New Orleans Saints | Ian Book | QB | Notre Dame
With future Hall of Famer Drew Brees retiring, the Saints needed to draft someone to evaluate. Ian Book is a competent pocket-passer with decent fundamentals. With Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston battling out to be the serviceable starter, Sean Payton now has the chance to develop a quarterback who is similar to Drew Brees physically. It is a low-risk, high-reward pick for the Saints.
6.206 | New Orleans Saints | Landon Young | T | Kentucky
The Saints probably didn’t need to draft a lineman to deem the New Orleans Saints 2021 Draft a success. However, Mickey Loomis and his crew decided to trade up for Kentucky’s Landon Young. Young is a beefy, hard-nosed pass protector. He is very raw, and his footwork is suspect; irrespective of those flaws, his power, physique, and attitude make him a fascinating project in the Big Easy. The New Orleans Saints 2021 NFL Draft saw the team address a position that wasn’t necessarily a huge need, but it is never a bad thing taking a player with a lot of raw tools that can get coached.
7.255 | New Orleans Saints | Kawann Baker | WR | South Alabama
The last pick of the New Orleans Saints 2021 NFL Draft saw the team select wideout Kawaan Baker from South Alabama. The Saints receiver room needed bodies, especially in the light of Michael Thomas’ injuries. Baker is a tough, gritty catcher who is capable of making contested catches on jump-balls. Baker can also get utilized as a deep threat due to his talent at the catch-point. His route-running isn’t as smooth as other prospects, nor is he a speed demon. However, as a seventh-round pick, the imperfections make sense.
Ultimately, the New Orleans Saints 2021 NFL Draft was solid, if unspectacular. The franchise prioritized powerful, aggressive athletes that could contribute straightaway. New Orleans also drafted a project at quarterback to evaluate while they make a change at the position. The Saints are one of the best organizations at developing prospects. New Orleans got the raw materials; now, they must mold them into diamonds.
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Thanks for reading my article on the New Orleans Saints 2021 NFL Draft class! Follow me on Twitter @TayyibAbu1 for more Saints and NFL coverage, and follow @OT_Heroics for all things sports