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New Orleans Saints Draft Grade

The New Orleans Saints had the 28th pick in the first round and they took Payton Turner the defensive end out of Houston. He's 6'5" and 270 pounds. He's a big, long athlete and this guy fits the mold, perfectly for a 4-3 defensive end. I think he's a really good fit for what the Saints do on the defensive line. He's really quick and twitchy off the snap, and he shows a really good bend and agility in this pass rush. Turner has a ton of natural ability if you will, and he's a powerful player who has a natural bull rush he can use to really collapse the pocket. He's a violent tackler and he just wants to destroy ball carriers and quarterbacks when he gets his hands on him. The knocks on his game is that he does tend to play too tall and he gets his pad height up higher than coaches would like, but I think that's something that he can fix with coaching, I'm not too worried about that. Turner also did deal with knee and foot injuries at Houston so, that is something that's a little bit of a concern when you bring in a guy who's had an injury history, especially in the first round. I think that's always a little bit risky, and he's not a very polished player, but he does have a lot of upside. I don't think we've seen Payton Turner's best football just yet. Payton Turner was a guy who rised up draft boards during the evaluation process and I can see why because his size, length and athletic ability, really stand out when you watch his tape. He just has a ton of potential. If the Saints can find a way to unlock that and let him develop in this next two or three years they may have a really good player.

In the second round with the 16th pick the Saints stuck with defense and added Pete Werner, the linebacker out of Ohio State. He's 6'3" and 238 pounds. He's a versatile player who played all three linebacker positions at Ohio State. That's something that you can't undersell, because you just don't see guys that can do that and he did it at a high level, and he did it at a big time program and a big time conference. He's an impressive player and he's got a really quick release off the edge. Werner can stuff the run, or pressure the quarterback. I like his ability to get around the corner. He's an aggressive downhill blitzer. He just gets downhill in a hurry I like that about his game. Werner does a nice job getting off of blocks for the most part. He has really good agility, and he can cover running backs and tight ends in coverage. He's just a very versatile Swiss Army knife of a player. He does have below average strength, and he could improve that in an NFL weight room, and I expect him to do that. I think he has room to improve there though, and he does have a little bit of a thin frame for an NFL linebacker. Werner is a little undersized and I think that could be exposed by bigger more powerful NFL linemen, but overall this guy has really good field vision, and he does a great job of tracking the ball carrier. I liked this pick by the Saints because it's a really versatile defender who can do a lot of things on the football field. Plus, they needed help at linebacker, so this fills a need for them as well.

When you look at the Saints draft class, Payton Turner is a high upside player, but probably won't see the field much year one, but that might be what's best for him, because this is a guy who really needs to develop more as a pass rusher and he needs to develop his pass rush moves. He's a little bit raw so I think it could be a good situation that he's going into with the Saints. Pete Werner has a legit shot to start at either middle or weak side linebacker. He has a legitimate shot to start year one, because he's a solid do it all type of defender, they get a nice value pick in the second round. I also liked the third round selection of Paulson Adebo from Stanford. He's a 6'1" cornerback, with big time talent. He was just a little too inconsistent and I think that's why he slid into the third round. Plus he opted out last season. He flashed some serious talent and he's has the prototypical NFL cornerback size, so I like the value there in the third round with him. This was a very solid draft for New Orleans but not a great draft. Some of their later picks I thought were questionable, but just a very good, not great draft and I'm going to give them a "B-"

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