The Saints were a bit pick deficient entering the draft and came to the event with several needs on defense. Moving to a 3-4 next season, the team needed scheme specific players and did a good job drafting value most of the way through.
Kenny Vaccaro/S/Texas (Round 1, pick #15): The consensus around the league had the Saints selecting defense in round one and they did not disappoint when called to the clock. Passing on linebacker Jarvis Jones, the team selected Vaccaro with their first pick. The Texas product should be a day one starter for New Orleans and is a complete safety proficient covering the pass or defending the run. Vaccaro will be a productive starter in the NFL if he consistently plays at the level he’s capable of.
Terron Armstead/T/Ark Pine-Bluff (Round 3, pick #75): In 2007 the Saints selected little known Jermon Bushrod out of Towson in the fourth round. He went on to be a four year starter and two-time Pro Bowl left tackle for the franchise before signing a large free agent deal with the Chicago Bears. In Armstead the team drafted a prospect that’s more NFL ready and offers greater upside compared to Bushrod in ‘07. Armstead stood out on film the past two years but it wasn’t until his performance at the Shrine Game did we come to accept the fact he’s left tackle material rather than a guard prospect. Armstead won’t be forced into the starting line-up and will gradually be fed into the system, just like Bushrod.
John Jenkins/DT/Georgia (Round 3, pick #82): Jenkins was highly rated entering the season and received first round consideration for a time. But the fact is he just doesn’t make enough plays on film, does not dominate the way he should and is woefully out of condition. In many ways he’s a similar version of Terrence Cody, the talented but conditionally maligned Alabama product who’s been in and out of the starting line-up for the Baltimore Ravens. Jenkins was worth a roll of the dice in round three and has great upside but must make a fulltime commitment to football if he’s to see significant playing time.
Kenny Stills/WR/Oklahoma (Round 5, pick #144): Stills was great value in round five. Yes, many of the receivers who come out of Oklahoma are a product of the system and often don’t live up to expectations in the NFL but considering his pass catching skills and surprising forty time at the combine, Stills may break that cycle.
Rufus Johnson/DE/Tarleton State (Round 6, pick #183): Johnson was a surprise pick but from a measurables point of view, he’s a good fit for New Orleans. The Lone Star Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year racked up 10 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss as a senior. He later timed under 4.8-seconds during his pro-day after tipping the scale at 265 pounds. While he was a bit of a reach in round six Johnson should find his was onto the practice squad if he doesn’t make the Saints roster.
Grade: B. There’s not much to dislike about this draft other than the limited picks. They should get instant impact from Vaccaro, selected terrific potential in Armstead and took a solid risk in Jenkins. Still could be the sleeper in this draft.