Football Memo

NFC South Draft Grades: New Orleans Saints

The Saints have traded up to the twentieth pick overall.
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks

New Orleans Saints
The Saints selected wide receiver Brandin Cooks in the first round in hopes of replacing some of the production of the departed Darren Sproles and Lance Moore. The selection of Cooks must have quarterback Drew Brees smiling ear to ear. Cooks is short, but has an explosive combination of quickness and speed, while also being a developed route runner. Cooks could be Offensive Rookie of the Year. With most of their remaining selections, the Saints attempted to upgrade its defense. In the second round, New Orleans gave defensive coordinator Rob Ryan a big, physical corner in Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a developmental prospect with great physical traits. Jean-Baptiste (6-2½ and 218 pounds) is a press corner, who can be successful early in his career when lining up and playing tight man-to-man coverage. If he’s asked to play in zone or off-coverage, he will struggle. Khairi Fortt (fourth round) and Ronald Powell (sixth round) add depth and versatility to the linebacking corps. Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri (fifth round) is an intelligent, reliable safety that made plays for Nick Saban before a knee injury ended his season. I think the Saints really struck gold with Cooks, who is a perfect fit for their system. The rest of the draft was mediocre, and much of their grade in a few seasons will depend on the development of Jean-Baptiste, who has the ability to be a top corner, but is a work in progress.
Grade: C+

New Orleans Saints – 2014 Draft Selections
1 (20) Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
2 (58) Stanley Jean-Baptiste, DB, Nebraska
4 (126) Khairi Fortt, LB, California
5 (167) Vinnie Sunseri, DB, Alabama
5 (169) Ronald Powell, LB, Florida
6 (202) Tavon Rooks, OT, Kansas State

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