the Saints would pick Malcolm Jenkins in the first round. Ok fine, so a lot of people did, but I at least deserve minimal credit for calling that, right? I also wrote a piece last year detailing my reasons why the Saints' draft philosophy is to pick the best player available, as oppose to settling for a need. Similarly, this year, I think the Saints should go with defense, but don't be shocked if they select an offensive player.
This year, the needs have changed a little bit. Going into last year's draft, the Saints were in desperate need of a short yardage back, playmakers on the backend, and pass rushers. Mike Bell and Lynell Hamilton both stepped up this year and did a great job in short yardage situations, but with Bell now gone I would expect the Saints to possibly get a bruising back in the draft. Based on the current regime's ability to land serviceable backs without using high picks, though (see Bell, Hamilton and Pierre Thomas - all undrafted), I wouldn't expect for that to be done early in the draft. Keep in mind that Lynell Hamilton is still on the team, too, and is likely looking at an increased role. As for playmakers on the backend, what a difference a year makes. Granted the Saints will need to re-sign Darren Sharper to be as effective as last year, but with the development of Tracy Porter and the additions of Jabari Greer and Malcolm Jenkins, the Saints are now in terrific shape there. Moving on to pass rushers, that still seems to be the area where the Saints have the biggest need. Depth at tight end would possibly be a place of need, too, as well as getting a good run stuffing defensive tackle. For those reasons, I think a pass rushing linebacker or a stout defensive tackle make the most sense with that first pick based on need. Given the Saints' philosophy, though, don't be surprised when they pick someone you least expected.
I'll be posting my mock draft this week, so stay tuned.