The New Orleans Saints were one of the most hyped up teams heading into the 2014 NFL Season. Coming off of amazing 2013 season in which the Saints finished 11-5, barely lost the NFC South division crown to the Carolina Panthers, upset the Philadelphia Eagles on the road in the Wild Card round, and lost by only 8 points to the Seattle Seahawks, expectations were sky high in the Big Easy.
As if their fantastic 2013 season weren’t enough, the Saints also had an amazing offseason in which they brought in Brandin Cooks with their 1st round draft selection and signed Pro Bowl safety Jarius Byrd away from the Buffalo Bills to help their defense. All in all, the Saints looked ready for another Super Bowl run in 2014.
Well, needless to say, it didn’t work out that way for the Saints or the rest of the NFC South for that matter. After years of being one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, the NFC South fell flat on its face this season with the Carolina Panthers winning it with a 7-8-1 record.
The Saints finished with a disappointing 7-9 record, struggling in basically every way possible. Quarterback Drew Brees often had problems getting the offense running smoothly, the defense fell apart when it was needed, and even the home crowd couldn’t help—despite usually finishing 8-0 or 7-1 at home, the Saints were only 3-5 at home last season. The Saints actually won more road games than home games in 2014.
For the first time in years, the Saints offense seems to be a bit of a concern. The defense on the other hand is always a concern. The Saints already have the foundation to be a great team and a great head coach in Sean Payton, so a little bit of help from the draft could be just what the Saints need to find themselves back in the playoffs in 2015. Here are the New Orleans Saints biggest needs heading into the 2015 NFL Draft:
Secondary: The Saints secondary was horrible once again in 2014. At safety, Byrd was supposed to be the Saints saving grace, but he ended up on Injured Reserve before he was able to have any real impact. Kenny Vaccaro has shown promise, but he still has some areas that could use serious improvement. At cornerback, Keenan Lewis is probably the best player on the roster but that isn’t saying much. The Saints really need all the help they can get, and due to their salary cap issues all of their reinforcements will have to come from the draft. The Saints normally use the majority of their early picks on defensive players, so look for their first few selections to go toward improving their secondary.
Offensive Line: A few years ago the Saints had easily one of the top five offensive lines in football. Unfortunately, injuries, free agency, and retirement have left New Orleans with a rapidly aging offensive line that desperately needs to get younger. Jonathan Goodwin is 36 now and he’s starting to really struggle out on the field, and he’s not the only one. The Saints most expensive and valuable player is still Drew Brees, so it would be smart to spend a pick or two on protecting him. This is the Saints most pressing need heading into 2015, so they could spend a lot of time at the combine looking for the best available options. Don’t be surprised if the Saints use two or three of their picks to improve their offensive line.