Being aggressive is not a bad thing in the NFL draft, and if the right situation presents, the New Orleans Saints have good reason to move up.
Jairus Byrd maneuver signals Saints are gunning for 2014
Anybody with reasonable facsimiles probably thought the Saints were going to hang back in free agency in 2014 and focus the bulk of their attention on the NFL draft in order to improve their roster. Instead they struck out of nowhere early in the process when they landed arguably the best free agent available in free safety Jairus Byrd. That move adds a three-time Pro Bowler to a defense that ranked 4th overall in 2013 and sends a clear message to the rest of the league that New Orleans has zero plans to just hang back and be a spectator this off-season. It’s really not hard to see why. Despite their ability to overhaul the roster with lots of young talent lately, they are still driven through the success of Drew Brees. The quarterback just turned 35-years old in January. His time as a professional is winding down and so are the realistic Super Bowl opportunities for the New Orleans Saints franchise. It is a clear win-now atmosphere and that means assembling as much frontline talent as they can.
Mike Evans and Anthony Barr among possible trade targets
That could be the primary reason why ESPN.com hinted at the idea that if the right situation presents itself, the Saints could very well leave their perch at #27 in the first round of the NFL draft and make an aggressive move up the board for difference-making talent. The question at hand is who would have to be available in order for that to come true? At present the Saints are saddled with no absolutely pressing needs but certainly some areas they’d like to upgrade including wide receiver and outside linebacker at the top. Their playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks showed that Brees does not have a weapon who provided a physical presence of size and strength. There is plenty of speed, but no real go-up-and-get-it types. That is why Texas A&M star Mike Evans must look awfully enticing. His 6’5″ frame, explosive lower body and solid hands make him the one kind of target Brees has never really had. Then there is UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr. New Orleans has pass rusher from up front with Cameron Jordan and Junior Gallette but need that sort of presence on the edge in order to bring it all together. Barr is a supremely gifted athlete who is trending way up at the position and with some polish can become a regular nightmare for tackles. You also can’t discount a strong push for help at cornerback with either Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard.
Either way, it’s clear the New Orleans Saints have incentive to move up in the NFL draft. Whether they have the opportunity waits to be seen.