2011 NFL Draft | New Orleans Saints Team Needs
While it was embarrassing and disappointing that the Saints 11-5 season ended at the hands of the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs, the 2009 champions still looked solid all year long.
Add the word that Drew Brees played most of the 2010 season on a bad knee, and his numbers and the Saints season is actually pretty impressive. The team has a few holes to address, but with another decent draft, they should be right back in contention for another Super Bowl in 2011.
Biggest Needs: RB, OT, WR
New Orleans does not have a lot of needs on offense. However, with Brees playing most of a season with a partially torn ligament in his knee, the Saints might stress even better protection going forward. Their line is still amongst the best in the league, but they could arguably do better than Jon Stinchcomb on the right side. The Saints would probably love to have Nate Solder or Derek Sherrod fall to them at the 24th pick, but both should be gone by then. The Saints are probably looking at Tyron Smith or Gabe Carimi in the first round if they choose to address the tackle position early.
Outside of boosting the performance of their already stout offensive line, the Saints will have to fill the shoes of the possibly departing Pierre Thomas. Thomas will be a free agent, Reggie Bush isn’t an every down back, and no one can be completely sure what the Saints have in Christopher Ivory. Either way you look at it, the Saints need youth and talent at the position, and if Thomas is gone, could need a new back to take over full-time. Daniel Thomas is a complete back that will be around at the 24th pick, and makes the most sense. If they wait until the second round, they could grab speedster Kendall Hunter or Mikel LeShoure out of Illinois.
While not necessarily a glaring need, the Saints could also grab a receiver in the middle rounds to make sure there will never be a drop-off in talent or offensive consistency. Lance Moore could be gone via free agency, while Devery Henderson is nothing more than a situational deep threat. Adding a solid slot guy like Austin Pettis or Jeff Maehl in the third round would be a nice addition.
Biggest Needs: DT, LB, DE
The Saints have a beast in the middle in Sedrick Ellis, but he could really use some help up front. The Saints might target a solid defensive tackle in the first round, where Christian Ballard or Stephen Paea could fall to them. Ballard has great versatility and pursuit, and could be moved all over the line. If New Orleans prefers to wait, they can still grab an impact tackle in Marvin Austin, another versatile linemen who could fall to them in the second round.
New Orleans might also want to address their line-backing corps, as Scott Shanle is a free agent, and outside of Jonathan Vilma, the Saints could use a talent and youth injection at the position. The nice thing is, the Saints have some flexibility, as Vilma would be perfectly fine on the outside, allowing them to grab a new middle linebacker. New Orleans is likely to upgrade the position in the second or third round, where Greg Jones or Casey Matthews would be fantastic additions.
Defensive end is another problem area, where the big name for the Saints is Will Smith, and even he had just 5.5 sacks in 2010. The Saints could beef up their pass rush by adding Ryan Kerrigan in the first round, or grab a solid end in the mid-rounds, such as Jeremy Beal or Allen Bailey.
Overall, New Orleans is in really good shape. The’re extremely well coached on both sides of the ball, and really just have a few spots where they need major help. Their offense is so potent that they could still compete at a high level with no new additions, but getting a new franchise back and beefing the offensive line can only help. On defense, they simply need to add depth and try to improve on a crew that can already hang with any offense.