The New Orleans Saints went into the 2016 NFL Draft knowing that they needed to do something to improve their defense. Not only did they do that, but they also got some help on offense, selecting a steal in the second round. It’s time to recap the Saints entire draft from defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins in the first round through all of the undrafted rookie free agents picked up after it was over.
It was pretty much a given that the Saints were going to take Rankins out of Louisville with the number 12 overall pick. If he was on the board, New Orleans was going to draft him and that’s exactly what they did. With a 2015 season that consisted of 53 tackles and six sacks, it was an easy choice to make on a strong and fast defensive lineman.
While it’s not guaranteed, Rankins could very well slide right into a starting spot for the Saints by the time the regular season rolls around. He truly is that talented, and he was drafted to a team that desperately needed help on the D-line.
The drafting of Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas in the second round came as a bit of a surprise to some Saints fans. It was then that they remembered the Saints had parted ways with veteran receiver Marques Colston in the offseason.
Brandin Cooks is going to be the number one and the Saints have Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead to move into the two and three spots. Thomas has a lot of talent and a tremendous upside that could see him big a big contributor in his rookie season.
The Saints only had five draft picks this year, and here are all of them:
1 (12). DT Sheldon Rankins – Louisville
2 (47). WR Michael Thomas – Ohio State
3 (61). S Vonn Bell – Ohio State
4 (120). DT David Onyemata – Manitoba (Canada)
7 (237). RB Daniel Lasco – California
Vonn Bell should fit into the secondary nicely as he will be able to learn behind safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd, and Onyemata could do well as a third-down lineman. The head-scratcher is running back Daniel Lasco, but he had an impressive combine in February. There may be a place for him on special teams.
General manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the draft, and the official website of the New Orleans Saints had all of his thoughts. The pick of Lasco is one that Loomis was asked about, and as of now, he’s being seen as a bit of a project.
“You get to the seventh round and you’re looking at the highest graded guy on our board at that time. There were a lot of things about him that we liked. We see him initially as a third-down back. You’re a seventh-round pick, you’re going to be a four-core special teams player. We like his makeup, like it a lot. We think he’s going to be a real strong guy for our special teams, and then we’ll see how he develops as a running back.”
After the NFL Draft is over every year, there are typically only around 260 players that had their names called in rounds one through seven. Hundreds and thousands of other players are looking to get signed and make an NFL roster, but an undrafted rookie free agent has a lot of work to do.
Those wondering if they will make it can simply look at wide receiver Brandon Coleman, who was actually an undrafted rookie free agent and is now a key member of the Saints’ offense. Here is the full list of those the Saints have brought in so far as presented by NOLA.com.
- LB Leonard Pegues – Memphis
- DE Royce LaFrance – Tulane
- WR Tommy Lee Lewis – Northern Illinois
- S Michael Caputo – Wisconsin
- FB Sione Houma – Michigan
- OT Joseph Cheek – Texas A&M
- WR Jordan Williams – Ball State
- LB Dominique Tovell – ULL
- C Jack Allen – Michigan State
- LB Jeff Schoettmer – North Carolina
- S Trae Elston – Ole Miss
- DL DJ Pettway – Alabama
- TE Mitchell Loewen – Arkansas
- LB Dillon Lee – Alabama
- OL Avery Young – Auburn
- CB Ken Crawley – Colorado
- C Marcus Henry – Boise State
- G Landon Turner – North Carolina
- WR Jared Dangerfield – Western Kentucky
- OT Ryker Matthews – BYU
- CB De’Vante Harris – Texas A&M
Please remember that these signings are unofficial until the Saints confirm and announce them.
The 2015 season was a disappointing year for the New Orleans Saints. Yes, there were some injuries, but it was just a lot of inexperience, a number of mistakes, and the lack of a strong defense that did them in.
Now, they are looking to move ahead into 2016 and not have to worry each week about how their defense will hold up. There was a lot of talent to be had in the NFL Draft, and the Saints grabbed plenty of it, and that includes many of their undrafted rookie free agents.
[Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]