With a few young, affordable and reliable players locked up as starters, the New Orleans Saints have placed themselves in a safe place thanks to a number of successful recent concepts.
Marcus Williams enters his third season as a professional after the Saints had taken him from Utah in the second round in 2017. He chose six steps, broke 10 and made 130 tackles with the saints in his first two years.
In addition to him, Vonn Bell – another former second-round pick – flourished in his third season with the Saints. Thanks to his improved coverage, he was able to see the field in a more traditional safety role after being heavily used for scrimmage in 2017. Yet that is where he is strongest: 40 of his career-high 88 tackles came in running support.
Williams turns 23 in September, Bell turns 25 in December. Between them, they will have around $ 3 million against the Saints salary ceiling in 2019.
Veteran Kurt Coleman was thrown overboard this offseason to save $ 4 million in salary space, his price did not match his production. The rise of Bell caused Coleman's role to fall dramatically as the season progressed, which stood out most in the two New Orleans playoff games when Coleman played only three defensive snaps.
The position has been entrusted to the young, but that does not mean that New Orleans can hold on to what it currently has – especially if it is aware of the future.
With less than four weeks to go for the draft, we analyze the needs of the saints at every position. The 11-part series started the offense last week.
Saints depth chart
Potential Day 1 (first round) selections
Taylor Rapp, Washington
Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
Possible selections for day 2 (rounds 2-3)
Deionte Thompson, Alabama
Nasir Adderley, Delaware
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
Juan Thornhill, Virginia
Darnell Savage, Maryland
Potential selections for day 3 (rounds 4-7)
Amani Hooker, Iowa
Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Marquise Blair, Utah
Mike Bell, Fresno state
Mike Edwards, Kentucky
Will Harris, Boston College
Marvel Tell, USC
Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
Lukas Denis, Boston College
Malik Gant, Marshall
Khari Willis, Michigan State
Darius West, Kentucky
Saquan Hampton, Rutgers
Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
JoJo McIntosh, Washington
Zedrick Woods, Ole Miss
Design priority for the saints: moderate
What the saints could do in the design: Williams and Bell are clear starters, so this position does not have the highest priority. But they could use some extra depth on the position outside the special teams, such as Chris Banjo.
This should not only be prepared in the event of injury. While Coleman's blasts dropped almost to nothing, the saints sometimes still called for their "buffalo" package, placing three guards on the field. Adding another player to the room would give them the flexibility offered by that staffing group.
It would not be surprising to see how they add another player who specializes in reporting, allowing them to play Bell near the scrimmage in the buffalo package and at the same time offer insurance in case Williams is hurt.
The saints can also use the concept to position themselves for the future. Bell becomes an unlimited free agent after the 2019 season, while Williams is signed until 2020.
The Saints could take the safety post with one of their five pick-ups from Day 3, and this could be a good year to find a player in that series.