By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
The Saints went into the 2020 NFL draft with five picks. After making three draft day trades, they ended up with four players drafted.
In the first round, with the 24th overall pick, New Orleans shook up the Who Dat Nation as they took Michigan center, Cesar Ruiz. Most fans were hoping for a linebacker in the first round to help the Saints aging and injury prone position. The Saints drafted center Erik McCoy from Texas A&M last season in the second round. McCoy had a very solid rookie season. Ruiz, 6'3" 307lbs, had a very good three year career for the Wolverines and should be a strong addition to the Saints' offensive line. Some think Ruiz may make the move to guard to contribute as a rookie.
MY GRADE: B+
New Orleans had no 2nd round selection this season and got aggressive in the 3rd as they would make a trade with Cleveland to move up in the round. The move sent their 3rd round pick (88th overall) and their 2021 3rd round pick to the Browns for the 74th overall choice along with 244th overall pick, a 7th rounder. With the pick, the Saints would address their linebacker position by drafting Zack Baun from Wisconsin. Baun actually was projected to go in the first round but still found himself on the draft board. Many feel like his stock fell do to his struggles with man-to-man coverage and often shows trouble shedding offensive lineman blocks. Baun however has some versatility which helps him rush the passer from the edge or during inside stunts. He may have trouble being a large contributor in 2020 as a rookie.
MY GRADE: B
The Saints would make their second draft day trade to move back into the 3rd round. It would be another move that seemed to upset fans as they would trade away their remaining picks in the draft 4th rd (130), 5th rd (169), 6th rd (203), and 7th rd (244), to Minnesota to move up to 105 overall. New Orleans would take Adam Trautman, a Tight End from Dayton. Trautman, 6'6" 253lbs, is the first Dayton player to be drafted in 43 years, and has the potential to be a special player for the Saints. He should contribute immediately. Trautman was named the PFL Offensive Player of the Year and first team All-PFL in 2019 after catching 70 passes for 916 yards and 14 touchdowns. He finished his college career with 171 receptions for 2,295 yards and 31 touchdowns. He has also shown solid blocking skills on the line. With both Jared Cook (33 yrs. old) and Josh Hill (29 yrs. old) nearing the end of their careers, talent and youth at the position is much welcomed.
MY GRADE: A
With many thinking the Saints were finished with the 2020 virtual NFL draft, New Orleans would trade back into the draft for the Houston Texans' 7th round pick (240 overall). Here New Orleans would grab Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens. The 6 feet 5, 235lbs QB, started his college career at Penn State and was a graduate transfer to Mississippi State. In his only season with the Bulldogs Stevens threw for 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 381 yards and four scores. It will be interesting to see how he performs in the preseason. He may become a candidate for the practice squad.
MY GRADE: D+