Draft could solve Saints' problems
Elite defenders likely to be available when they pick at No. 10 Thursday, January 03, 2008By Jimmy Smith
One look at what happened to the Saints this season and there's little doubt on which side of the ball the most upgrades are needed.
"We need to improve our defense," Coach Sean Payton told reporters during his final Monday press conference of the season. "That's something that we'll look at hard in this offseason in regards to how we can help over there."
Aside from free agency, there's the draft.
New Orleans owns the 10th pick in the 2008 draft, by virtue of its 7-9 record and the strength of schedule tiebreaker.
Nearly four months before the April 26-27 event, there are plenty of options for the Saints to consider.
Figuring the Saints need immediate help in the secondary, at linebacker and at defensive tackle, there are a number of prospects from whom to choose, three who'll be playing in Monday night's BCS championship game at the Superdome.
Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State inside linebacker James Laurinaitis and LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey are the highest-rated players at their respective positions in some early rankings of future NFL players.
Dorsey is the highest-ranked in that trio, followed by Laurinaitis, both of whom are among the top 10. In one listing of the top 32 players in the country, Jenkins ranks 11th.
Laurinaitis and Jenkins are draft-eligible underclassmen.
Where the Saints need to spend that first pick is debatable, but the secondary was among the worst in the league this season. No team in the league allowed more than the 32 touchdown passes the Saints gave up and diminutive cornerback Jason David (5 feet was the one most burned.