New Orleans Saints Final NFL Draft Grades 2024: Saints Add Early Starters Taliese Fuaga, Kool-Aid McKinstry

    Did the New Orleans Saints get closer to winning their first NFC South crown since 2020 in the 2024 NFL Draft? Here's a look at their grades.

    The New Orleans Saints have an expensive and aging roster that desperately needs to infuse an ample amount of youth heading into the 2024 NFL Draft. Here is a closer look at the Saints’ draft grades and their pre-draft areas of need.

    New Orleans Saints 2024 NFL Draft Grades

    Round 1, Pick 14: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

    The Saints spent their first-round pick fortifying the offensive line, selecting OT Taliese Fuaga out of Oregon State. This could be an insurance policy selection for right tackle Ryan Ramczyk — who has ideally progressed from an offseason knee surgery — or simply an upgrade for Trevor Penning at left tackle.

    Either way, Fuaga is an excellent tackle prospect who possesses excellent explosive athleticism and pass protection technique and can make an immediate impact along the offensive line for a unit that finished 21st in the league with just 102 rushing yards per game.

    Grade: B+

    Round 2, Pick 41: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

    The Saints seized an opportunity to move up and select one of the top cornerback prospects in the class with Kool-Aid McKinstry out of Alabama. The secondary has been anchored by Marshon Lattimore for years, and he will join Paulson Adebo in a secondary that was among the stingiest units in the league, finishing 10th in the league against opposing passing attacks.

    McKinstry is a long and physical corner who excelled in the talent-rich SEC in 2023. Like most Alabama players, McKinstry is technically sound, plays with great discipline in zone coverage, and doesn’t hesitate to stick his nose into traffic in run support.

    Grade: B+

    Round 5, Pick 150: Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

    The New Orleans Saints were without a fourth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft but still managed to land a potential future starter under center with South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler at No. 150 overall.

    Rattler generated some buzz as a potential Day 2 pick after a strong Senior Bowl and improved decision-making during his time with the Gamecocks. However, his lack of consistency or elite traits make his path as a potential future starter under center a bit shaky. Fortunately, Rattler is in a position to learn behind veteran quarterback Derek Carr to start his NFL career.

    Grade: B

    Round 5, Pick 170: Bub Means, WR, Pittsburgh

    The Saints’ receiver room has some interesting pieces alongside Chris Olave, with Rashid Shaheed, Cedrick Wilson Jr., and A.T. Perry, but they decided to use fifth-round draft capital on Bub Means from Pittsburgh at No. 170 overall.

    Means has a great physical profile and can be dominant when he is dialed in, but his effort and lack of route-running polish make this a questionable pick with Malik Washington still on the board.

    Grade: C

    Round 5, Pick 175: Jaylan Ford, LB, Texas

    The Saints’ defense was the strength of the team in 2023 and appears set to get at least one more season from veteran linebacker Demario Davis next year. Yet, New Orleans decided to add youth at the position by selecting Texas linebacker Jaylan Ford here in Round 5.

    Ford occasionally flashes burst in pursuit when he properly diagnoses plays and does have the agility to strafe from sideline to sideline in the NFL, but his overall athleticism isn’t elite, and his processing lacks the consistency to project him as a future full-time starter in the league.

    Grade: C

    Round 6, Pick 199: Khristian Boyd, DT, Northern Iowa

    Khristian Boyd was one of the best overall prospects on the board at No. 199 overall; with great size, an explosive get-off, and a high motor, he dominated the smaller competition at Northern Iowa. The Saints have an immediate need along the interior of the defensive line and could see Boyd contribute earlier than expected in 2024.

    Grade: A

    Round 7, Pick 239: Josiah Ezirim, OT Eastern Kentucky

    The Saints started the 2024 NFL Draft by selecting an offensive tackle … and they poetically finished the draft by selecting an offensive tackle. New Orleans decided to swing for the fences with its final at-bat by selecting Eastern Kentucky tackle Josiah Ezirim at No. 239 overall.

    Ezirim is an exceptionally well-built tackle prospect with his weight (329 pounds), hand size (10 3/4″), arm length (35 3/4″), and wingspan (85 1/2″) all falling above the 80th percentile at his position, which gives him the type of ideal upside you want for your final pick at a position of need.

    Grade: B+

    New Orleans Saints 2024 NFL Draft Summary

    The Saints’ top priority was to add talent along the offensive line unit with offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk’s immediate future currently up in the air.

    They did exactly that by selecting Oregon State offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga at No. 14 overall to instantly slide into whatever role necessary to improve this unit up front. They also traded up for Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry in the second round, which helped limit their draft assets the rest of the way.

    KEEP READING: Saints UDFA Signings and Rookie Camp Invites

    While the addition of Spencer Rattler isn’t helpful for this season, the pick of Northern Iowa DT Khristian Boyd is amongst the best value picks in the entire draft.

    Final Grade: B+

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