Michael Mankoff looks at why the New Orleans Saints appear to be loading up to win now.
Team Carter quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (9) before the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. ( Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — It’s no secret to anyone that Drew Brees is getting older. Although the 36-year-old Brees isn’t showing signs of slowing down (experts think that he will become third in total career yardage this season, passing no other than Dan Marino), many Saints fans are beginning to worry about the future of the quarterback position.
The Saints seem to be more concerned with 2015 than the distant future.
It doesn’t take a football professional to pinpoint the biggest reason for the Saints dismal 7-9 record last year: defense. Under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the team finished 31st in total yards allowed and scored near the bottom of almost every other defensive category you can think of.
The Saints decided to attack this problem head on, drafting 6 defensive players with their first 9 picks, including drafting former Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony at number 31. The 6’3’’, 243 pound Anthony, who was named to the first team All-ACC selection, racked up 10.5 sacks for loss and 2 forced fumbles in his final year at Clemson.
The Saints further tightened up the linebacker position with their second-round pick of Hau’oli Kikaha. The former Washington Husky had a school-record 19 sacks in 2014 and was a unanimous choice for the All-America team.
This duo will hopefully shore up some of the problems the Saints had last year stopping the run and put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Saints secondary is also getting a facelift with the addition of cornerbacks Damian Swain, late of the Georgia Bulldogs and former Seminole P.J. Williams. While neither of these players are household names and neither are known for racking up picks, their presence should at least give opposing teams pause before throwing the ball.
Saints fans looking far into the future needn’t worry too much; the Saints added Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson in the third round. As the 75th pick, Grayson represents the highest drafted quarterback since Archie Manning. He is also the first quarterback the Saints have drafted since 2010.
Although this pick might silence some of those crying for a total team rebuild, Saints fans should be hopeful about their teams chances in 2015. Brees’ possible retirement is at least a few years away, so drafting a replacement quarterback to rebuild around is a bit premature. Saints fans hoping for a better future will hopefully come to the same conclusion the Saints front office came to months ago: the future is now.