What do the New Orleans Saints‘ 2023 NFL Draft grades look like after three days in Kansas City? There’s pressure on Dennis Allen to help the Saints compete again after adding Derek Carr, and he needed a strong performance from the 2023 NFL Draft to get it done.
New Orleans Saints Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick 29: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
The Saints’ defensive line hemorrhaged in free agency, especially on the interior. Losing Shy Tuttle and David Onyemata hurt, and it forced New Orleans to target interior defensive line talent early in the 2023 NFL Draft. The defensive line is a unit you simply can’t neglect, and New Orleans made a quality investment with former five-star Bryan Bresee at 29th overall.
At 6’5 1/2” and almost 300 pounds, Bresee has impressive size and knockback power in his hands, but he also brings the athleticism you’d expect from a top recruit. Bresee’s incredibly explosive off the snap, and he has the ankle flexion to splice around blocks in close quarters while using violent hand swipes, clubs, and swims to break through anchors.
Bresee battled through adversity in 2022, but he came out the other side as a first-round pick. He can still improve his consistency as a run defender, but he has the tools to be a high-level pass-rushing threat on the interior, and his ability to quickly deconstruct blocks could be an asset at the next level.
Round 2, Pick 40: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
All through the early 2023 months, defensive line was circled as a major need for the New Orleans Saints, especially after Dennis Allen’s squad lost several starters in free agency. They filled one void by adding Bresee in Round 1, and now they add a higher-rated player on my board in Isaiah Foskey, over 10 picks later.
Foskey is one of the most underrated EDGE prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, for my money. He regressed a bit in 2022 but still managed to maintain elite production. He’s an incredibly explosive, twitched-up athlete at 6’5”, 264 pounds, with 34” arms. His combined size and explosiveness grants him elite power capacity, which he can use to barrel through tackles.
Foskey’s hips are fairly stiff at the apex, which limits some of his appeal. But when his hands are on, he legitimately has some of the best counters in this class. Go back to his 2021 tape, and you’ll see him set up tackles with euro-steps before immediately capitalizing with violent swipes, chops, and rips. He’s a relentless motor rusher who has all the tools, and New Orleans knows how to work with these kinds of defensive linemen.
Round 3, Pick 71: Kendre Miller, RB, TCU
There’s been speculation that, despite having a contract that runs through 2025, Alvin Kamara is not long for the New Orleans Saints. He has a potential out in that contract in the 2024 offseason, and a suspension also creates friction for his standing. The Saints’ selection of Kendre Miller may be a reflection of that.
Miller was a busy man ahead of the NFL Draft, holding visits with dozens of teams, but the Saints are the ones who ultimately come away with him. Miller is one of the more complete RB prospects in the class. He’s a top-50 prospect on my board, and RB4 behind only Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Tank Bigsby.
At 5’11”, 215 pounds, Miller has good size and can scrape through arm tackles with his hyperactive running style. But he’s also an incredibly agile, high-energy runner with strong creative instincts and brisk cuts, sharp explosiveness upfield, and the long speed to emerge through congestion. He also flashes upside as a receiving back.
Miller gives New Orleans long-term security at running back, and he has the profile to handle volume and take on extra responsibilities.
Round 3, Pick 104: Nick Saldiveri, OL, Old Dominion
The Saints passed up an opportunity to add Adetomiwa Adebawore, who’d be a terrific fit in their defense. Nevertheless, Nick Saldiveri is a very good player. He’s athletic, well-leveraged, composed with his footwork, and has tackle-guard versatility.
Round 4, Pick 127: Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
Derek Carr is the Saints’ starter, but Jameis Winston’s contract expires in 2024.
By picking Jake Haener in Round 4, New Orleans locks down a quality backup on a cheap contract, who also has the competitive edge, field vision, layering ability, and pocket mobility to be a good spot-starter.
Round 5, Pick 146: Jordan Howden, S, Minnesota
The Saints have an eye on the future, with Marcus Maye aging and entering a contract year. Jordan Howden provides depth early on, and he could end up playing meaningful snaps at strong safety down the line. He has a stocky frame at 6’0”, 203 pounds, to go along with 4.49 speed and good short-area agility, as evidenced by his 6.87 three-cone.
Round 6, Pick 195: A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest
The Saints hadn’t drafted a WR until this point, and the WR they got toward the end of Round 6 was a top-100 talent on the PFN Consensus Board. At 6’3”, 200 pounds, A.T. Perry has a tantalizing blend of length, explosiveness, flexibility on his route cuts, and elite catching instincts. At his size, he’s one of the more refined route runners in the class, and he can produce in New Orleans’ rotation on Day 1.
What Were the Saints’ Biggest Needs Entering the Draft?
- DT, G, TE, OT
What was once the strength of the Saints’ roster has turned into a need. New Orleans replaced Shy Tuttle and David Onyemata with Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd, but they simply need more bodies on the defensive interior.
For a team with a losing record a season ago, there aren’t many spots on the roster that screams need. Andrus Peat and Cesar Ruiz could both be improved upon, and maybe they could look to add a developmental tackle. Tight end might be one of the weaker spots on the roster, but the Saints have more of them than most teams have receivers.
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