Payton’s place: Saints head coach follows familiar playbook in Saints draft room in 2018
Since 2006, and the arrival of Saints head coach Sean Payton, there are clues as to where and how New Orleans would upgrade its talent.
For the third time in eight years, the Saints made a big move in the first round.
In 2011, the club traded a second round pick and a future first rounder to New England to get back in the first round and select Alabama running back Mark Ingram.
Three years later, the Saints shipped first and third round picks to Arizona to move up in the first to select Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
And, on Thursday, the Saints made another bold move, trading a 2019 first round pick and a 5th round choice to Green Bay to move up 13 spots and select defensive end Marcus Davenport of Texas-San Antonio.
The trade is a good one if Davenport eventually makes the Pro Bowl and climbs quickly on the Saints all-time sacks chart.
But, in the short term, the Saints should hope that Davenport produces like Takk McKinley did in his rookie year in Atlanta. McKinley was the 26th pick by the Falcons in the 2017 draft.
And, his first year was very solid. He had 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.
Davenport also appears to be a great fit in the club’s locker room.
In Dallas Thursday night, Davenport said the following, in a very understated but solid tone.
“They (the Saints) put a lot of faith in me. I am going to do everything I can to prove them right.”
In round three, Tre’Quan Smith fits the Sean Payton profile. That is, tall receivers.
Smith stands 6 foot 2 inches tall. If he’s the club’s third receiver, he will fit in perfectly with two other very big targets, Michael Thomas and Cameron Meredith.
Fourth round Rick Leonard, offensive tackle from Florida State, appears to be a huge reach.
Let’s hope Leonard is another Saints late round pick at tackle that overachieves. Think Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief.
Let’s hope he is not another Tavon Rooks, a 6th rounder from Kansas State in the 2014 draft, who couldn’t make the club.
Rooks was struggling to stay in the NFL, before a heart condition ended his football career in 2015.
Another Payton staple is defensive backs.
A coach who loves to throw the football, understands the need for quality pass defenders. Since 2013, Payton and the Saints have drafted 8 defensive backs, including using a 5th round pick this weekend on Wisconsin safety Natrell Jamerson and a 6th round pick on Boston College cornerback Kamrin Moore.
The selection of Louisiana Tech running back Boston Scott with the second of two 6th round picks, makes sense.
Payton has always given smaller backs a chance.
Darren Sproles was spectacular as a Saint.
And, the club also drafted Marcus Murphy in the 7th round in 2015.
The Saints selection of former Brother Martin Crusader and LSU Tiger Will Clapp in the 7th round is a solid pick.
Clapp can play center and guard.
He was a first team all-SEC selection at center in 2017.
Yet, Clapp maybe doesn’t get as much credit for his very steady, at times outstanding play.
He could be a real bargain.
If you don’t LSU misses him, go back and watch this month’s spring game. The center quarterback exchange was more eventful than required.
Overall, Sean Payton followed a pattern he has crafted over more than a decade.
Be aggressive trading up, be infatuated with defensive backs, look to develop young offensive lineman from within, and of course, the absolute Payton staple .. tall receivers are always welcome.