New Orleans Saints NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2021

The New Orleans Saints will be entering 2021 with a new quarterback under center as Drew Brees retired. They must build a roster around their new signal-caller — presumably Jamies Winston — if they hope to stay in contention. After an offseason manipulating the salary cap, who were their picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, and how did they grade?

Saints draft picks in 2021

  • 28th Overall Selection (R1-P28): Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston
  • 60th Overall Selection (R2-P28): Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State
  • 76th Overall Selection (R3-P12, from Denver): Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford 
  • 105th Overall Selection (R3-P42, compensatory pick):
  • 133rd Overall Selection (R4-P28): Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
  • 206th Overall Selection (R6-R18, from Indianapolis): Landon Young, OT, Kentucky

Who did the Saints draft on Day 1?

With the 28th pick, the New Orleans Saints select Houston EDGE Payton Turner.

New Orleans Saints grades for 2021 NFL Draft

One of the fastest rising prospects in the build-up to the draft, Turner is a solid fit for the New Orleans Saints.

Payton Turner, DE, Houston

After losing Trey Hendrickson in free agency, the Saints have a need when it comes to their pass rush. Turner fills this need but receives a reduced grade with potentially higher caliber pass rushers still on the board at this pick.

Grade: B-

Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State

The Saints lost Alex Anzalone and Kwon Alexander this offseason. They desperately needed to add bodies to the linebacker room and they did just that with Pete Werner. An elite coverage piece, expect Werner to be the starting WILL from Day 1. 

Grade: A-

Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

The Saints lost Janoris Jenkins in free agency and lost a number of snaps at the cornerback position. Paulson Adebo has a good opportunity to play on a talented New Orleans defense. Adebo has displayed high-level play in his career but hasn’t shown it in over two years. The tools are there, but will the volatility remain?

Grade: C-

Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame

The Saints don’t have a clear choice for quarterback long term. Taysom Hill isn’t a QB, and Jamies Winston doesn’t have a long-term deal. New Orleans identified Ian Book as the Day 3 QB they believe could develop into an option.

Grade: C

Landon Young, OT, Kentucky

The Saints add a productive and experienced starter from the SEC. Landon Young has a good frame and plays controlled and concise. His ceiling isn’t great, but he could be an effective spot starter early.

Grade: B+

Kawaan Baker, WR, South Alabama

The Saints add a talented wideout in hopes he can find some production as a rookie. Strong frame and quality athletic ability, he has a chance to develop in New Orleans.

Grade: C-

New Orleans Saints Final Grade: B-

Despite only making five picks, the Saints found solid value throughout the draft. I believe Turner and Werner should be productive rookies, while Adebo and Young also provide potential rookie snaps. What will Ian Book be? Can Sean Payton turn him into a starting quarterback?

Team needs for New Orleans coming into the NFL Draft

With Drew Brees retiring, where are the Saints’ biggest needs heading into 2021.

Wide Receiver

The Saints have long needed to add a weapon opposite of Michael Thomas in the passing game. An explosive playmaker to take some weight off whoever the starting QB will be.

Linebacker

Demario Davis is entering his age 32 season while Alex Anzalone recently signed a deal to play for the Detroit Lions. The Saints have a need for linebacker now, and in the future. Expect them to target multiple this draft.

Cornerback

With the departure of Janoris Jenkins, the Saints are in need of a running mate for Marshon Lattimore. Expect them to target a boundary corner with above-average arm length.

Defensive Tackle

After losing both Sheldon Rankins and Malcolm Brown, the Saints desperately need to add bodies to the interior defensive line. A 1-tech run stuffer or pass-rushing 3-tech, any young talent is an upgrade.

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