With the eleventh pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select…
11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett, DE | Tennessee
One word for Saints fans, defense. Hit me with those stats: 27th in total defense last season, after finishing 31st in 2015, and 31st in 2014. Progress, yes; enough of a difference for anyone to notice, negative. The Saints know their defense is their achilles heel and yet they can’t help themselves but continue to spend on the offense, (5 year $36 million deal for Coby Fleener last offseason?) This team is set on offense. They have a hall of fame quarterback in Drew Brees, quality running back in Mark Ingram, #1 receiver in Michael Thomas, and solid offensive line with the free agent addition of Larry Warford at right guard. The Saints don’t need offense. I swear if the Saints are on the clock and someone like a Christian McCaffrey is still on the board and Sean Payton feels a little bit of pre-cum in his pants and pulls the trigger I’m going to lose my mind. The loss of Brandin Cooks could hurt, but you didn’t necessarily have to give him up unless your intention was to in fact get two quality defensive players out of this draft, (one of which can still be Patriots corner Malcolm Butler.) Yes eventually they need to draft a quarterback to take over for Drew Brees when he rides off into the swamp, but even if they can’t get their guy in this draft, Chase Daniel just resigned as Brees’ backup and deserves a shot to compete. The Saints made a solid first step to addressing their defensive issues with the selection of DT Sheldon Rankins in last year’s draft but more work needs to be done.
This Saints depth chart on the defensive side of the ball has two glaring weaknesses and lucky for the Saints they have two first round picks. The first hole is cornerback but it’s a deep draft at that position so let’s save that for pick 32. The other glaring hole is at defensive end where some dude by the name of Obum Gwacham is currently slated as a starter at LDE. I don’t know how to say that nor do I care to as this guy’s a nobody and the Saints need an upgrade. Free agent signee Alex Okafor adds depth but not enough. At pick number 11 I have the Saints selecting Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. While Barnett’s workout numbers were not off the charts, he had an extremely productive collegial career with a total of 33 sacks and 52 tackles for a loss. Trust the tape. Barnett alongside Rankins, and other former first round picks Nick Fairly, and Cameron Jordan would give the Saints 5 first rounds picks (don’t forget Stephone Anthony at linebacker) within the defensive front seven, not to mention 2013 first round pick Kenny Vaccaro holding things down in the secondary. Look for the Saints defense to be a whole lot better on paper come April 27th.