Saints address some needs, miss out on others on final day of NFL Draft
You cannot have it all.
Each NFL team goes into the draft with the idea of filling needs. Ultimately, developments conspire not to allow it to occur.
That was certainly the case with the New Orleans Saints this time around.
It would have been great for the Saints among their five picks Saturday in the 2018 NFL Draft to land a tight end of defensive tackle but it did not happen. The Saints did address offensive line depth in substantive fashion, along with secondary depth.
In the fourth round, the Saints went for offensive line depth with massive tackle Rick Leonard of Florida State.
Leonard (6-7, 311) started all 13 games at right tackle last season for the Seminoles. He started six games in 2016. He was recruited as a defensive end by FSU out of Middletown High in Maryland and converted to offensive line in 2016.
Still learning the position, Leonard has played just two years at tackle. He is seen as a developmental prospect by many observers with pretty good quickness.
Leonard had a private workout for the Saints, who obviously liked what we saw. Leonard was seen as perhaps a fifth to seventh-round pick in recent weeks but saw his stock rise some.
Watching video, Leonard is athletic enough to get to the second level and scout for more blocks and does so pretty frequently. He is long enough to pass block but needs work in that department as most question his balance, frame and set-up, at least at this stage of his development. The consensus is that he will struggle against speed rushers, as many tackles do.
Last year, the Saints picked Ryan Ramczyk with the 32nd overall pick when it appeared there was little need due to the presence of Terron Armstead and Zach Strief. Armstead missed six games and played hurt much of the year and Strief played in just two games, going down with a knee injury. Andrus Peat had to slide to left tackle while Ramczyk moved in at right tackle. You can never have enough depth up front.
At 6-7, Leonard will certainly not be expected to play inside. He is clearly a tackle. With his addition and by bringing back Jermon Bushrod, the Saints, barring injury, can finally allow Peat to settle in at guard, where he is best and has excelled. There is Cameron Tom as a potential backup at center and guard.
In the fifth round, the Saints picked up safety Natrell Jamerson of Wisconsin.
Jamerson (5-11, 201) is a versatile athlete who started as wide receiver, moved to cornerback and settled in nicely at safety for the Badgers a year ago. The move worked out well as Jamerson was an All-Big 10 safety, recording two interceptions, including one for a touchdown. He recorded 51 tackles.
Jamerson runs well, recording a 4.4 in the forty-yard dash. He has kick return experience as well, having returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score as a Badger. He is described as a smart and instinctive player. He is strong and has man coverage skills, though he is not big enough to cover larger tight ends, though he is a free safety.
Jamerson could take a little time to develop, having started just 15 games. He was the Defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game.
In the sixth round, New Orleans selected cornerback Kamrin Moore of Boston College.
Moore (5-11, 202) missed three games with a shoulder injury last year. He missed three games in 2015 with a leg injury as well. He had 50 tackles but no interceptions last year and only two interceptions in three seasons.
He is a good tackler and is capable of playing special teams.
Moore is an experienced player, a three-year starter who understands the game and is a hard worker and outstanding competitor. His man-to-man cover skills are not top-notch, nor are his press coverage skills, which is why he lasted as long as he did.
The Saints interviewed Moore and liked what they saw and heard. He is capable of playing safety as well as a combo player, along the likes of Kenny Vaccaro, though not as accomplished.
Ultimately, Moore could project as a fourth defensive back or could appear in dime coverage while contributing on special teams.
Also in the sixth round, New Orleans selected diminutive running back Boston Scott out of Louisiana Tech.
Scott (5-6, 203) is Louisiana bred, having prepped at Zachary, where he excelled at football, soccer and track. He is short but he is compact and extremely elusive.
Scott had a breakout year for the Bulldogs last season, rushing for 1,083 yards on 183 carries. He averaged 8.1 yards per carry as a sophomore in 2015 when he also returned kicks. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry as a junior in 2016.
According to Pro Football Focus,Scott had the fourth-best elusive rating of 105.2 in the country, forcing 37 missed tackles on 139 total touches.
If Scott makes the Saints, he would be the one of the two smallest running backs in franchise history but not the smallest. That would be Howard Stevens (5-5, 165), who played and juked his way to a career with the Saints from 1973-75 before playing for the Baltimore Colts for three years.
In the seventh round, the Saints stayed close to home, picking up former Brother Martin and LSU center/guard Will Clapp.
Clapp (6-5, 311) is versatile enough to play center or guard and may provide the Saints with the inside depth they need to replace the departed Senio Kelemete.
Clapp is smart, competes very hard and will be motivated to make the team of his hometown team. He started at guard for LSU before moving to center and is equipped to play both spots, if necessary. Clapp is the kind of player you want on your team. He is steady. He is durable and dependable and loves the game.
What he lacks in overall athletic ability and physicality, he makes up for with his intelligence and hard work. In my estimation, Clapp was a bargain in the seventh round and a good pick.
Along with Davenport and Smith, the Saints will certainly feel good about their 2018 bounty. No one expects it to come close to the all-time best draft in team history of a year ago but the trend of good drafts since Jeff Ireland came aboard could very well continue.
Ben Watson will be asked to hold the fort at tight end while Tyeler Davison and David Onyemata will be asked to continue to develop at defensive tackle, alongside Sheldon Rankins. The Saints can still move Cam Jordan inside at times.
While some of the players chosen by New Orleans were rated slightly lower by some scouting services than where they were picked, the Saints like what they have done. Hopefully, they will like it three years from now.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…