New Orleans Saints NFL Draft Grades 2022: Chris Olave added alongside Michael Thomas

What are the New Orleans Saints' grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

The 2022 NFL Draft has officially kicked off, and the New Orleans Saints have made their first selection. As the seven rounds progress and the team makes all of their picks, we will provide a live draft grade and analysis for each of the Saints’ selections. How do these new prospects fit with the roster, what kind of impact will they have on the team, and what do the team’s needs look like now that the draft is complete?

Make sure to continue to check back as the 2022 NFL Draft continues for live New Orleans Saints draft grades and analysis.

New Orleans Saints grades for 2022 NFL Draft

What are the Saints‘ grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

Round 1, Pick 11: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Making the draft’s first major splash, the New Orleans Saints moved up from pick No. 16 to acquire the 11th overall pick from the Washington Commanders. New Orleans sent pick Nos. 16, 98, and 120 to Washington in exchange for No. 11. They doubled down on the shock by using that selection to draft Ohio State WR Chris Olave.

A terrific receiver with more than enough speed, Olave broke the OSU record for career touchdown receptions formerly owned by David Boston. He torched the Combine and scored 41 TDs during an illustrious college career. New Orleans moved significant draft capital to secure Olave, but all signs point toward his much-needed services paying big dividends for QB Jameis Winston and the Saints’ offense immediately.

Grade: B-

Round 1, Pick 19: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Saints followed their pick of Olave with the selection of Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa. Penning not only fills the Saints’ largest need on offense, but he also offers a new identity for the New Orleans offensive line. A big, mauling tackle with a mean attitude, Penning gives the Saints a blindside protector for Winston and a road-grader for their rushing attack.

Penning will absolutely have to work on his proficiency and his hands at the NFL level as he’s prone to penalties, but those issues are coachable. The uncoachables are there in Penning’s game, including a sound anchor and better balance through contact. The Saints moved up to secure their new WR1 but didn’t have to do so to land their biggest need this offseason.

Grade: A

Round 2, Pick 49: Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee

The Saints had a great opening stanza to the 2022 NFL Draft. However, their Day 2 didn’t quite go as well. Their pick of Alontae Taylor at No. 49 is a significant reach, who finished at No. 119 on the PFN Top 300 Consensus Big Board.

Taylor is incredibly handsy in coverage and will have to limit that as he transitions to the NFL – otherwise, he’s a penalty waiting to happen. He also plays slower than his off-field testing would indicate to warrant such a high draft pick. Taylor may have positional versatility to play a few spots in the Saints’ secondary. Nonetheless, there were certainly better options at this stage.

Grade: F

Round 5, Pick 161: D’Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State

D’Marco Jackson could quietly be one of the steals of Day 3 as heads to Dennis Allen and the Saints. New Orleans knows how to evaluate linebacker talent, so it’s no surprise they had an eye on Jackson in this range. Jackson has impressive athletic tools, having ran a 4.55 40-yard dash at around 6’1”, 233 pounds at the NFL Combine.

He was the leader of the Appalachian State defense in 2021. With 20 tackles for loss in 2021, Johnson has shown he can sift through gaps and make plays in run defense. But he also provides value as a blitzer with his burst, and he can hold his own in coverage. He can be a great special-teamer right away, but there’s also starting upside with this pick.

Grade: A

Round 6, Pick 194: Jordan Jackson, DT, Air Force

The Saints were expected to address both sides of the trenches in the 2022 NFL Draft. While they took left tackle Trevor Penning in Round 1, it’s taken them until the sixth round to bolster the defensive front. Air Force DT Jordan Jackson may not be the most well-known or the strongest DT left on the board, but he possesses good size and has impressive first step explosion.

He also displays a hot motor and pursuit speed to regularly make plays. There’s growth potential, especially as he showcases flashes of handwork. However, it’s hard to ignore some of the players New Orleans passed on when assigning a grade here.

Grade: C

What were the Saints’ biggest needs entering the draft?

  • OT, S, WR, G, CB

The departure of Terron Armstead has created a huge need to find a starting tackle. Maybe Ryan Ramczyk could flip to the left side, but if they could find a direct replacement for Armstead, that would be ideal. New Orleans also needs to find a partner for Michael Thomas, as we saw how weak that unit is without him.

Defensively, they have needs in their secondary. There are some pieces, but the Saints need some more options to boost the overall talent level. The quarterback position is an intriguing one. Jameis Winston is likely the answer for now, but what about in 2023 and beyond?

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