New Orleans Saints 2020 NFL Draft Review

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Coming into the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints began with five draft picks (24, 88, 130, 169, and 203). As Saints fans are well aware of, the Saints are aggressive on Day 2 and 3 of the draft. Alvin Kamara was acquired in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft after the Saints exchanged picks with the San Francisco 49ers. Erik McCoy and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson were both products of trade-ups and both immediate contributors.

And once again, the Saints traded up. They selected Zack Baun, and Adam Trautman in the third round, both of which were top 100 players on most people’s draft boards. The Saints also added much-needed assurance by adding interior offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz in the first round, who can play both guard spots and center. In the process, the Saints added former Penn State and Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens, which was a head-scratcher. Here’s a full list of the Saints selections:

First round, 24th overall: Cesar Ruiz, center, Michigan

Third round, 74th overall: Zack Baun, Edge/LB, Wisconsin 

Third round, 105th overall: Adam Trautman, Tight end, Dayton

Seventh round, 231st overall: Tommy Stevens, Quarterback, Mississippi State

Saints Draft Grade: A-

New Orleans Saints 2020 NFL Draft Review

The Best Player: Cesar Ruiz

No, he is not Patrick Queen or Kenneth Murray. But Ruiz fills a need the Saints have ignored the last few seasons. Cesar Ruiz, who is naturally a center, is versatile in more ways than one. Ruiz can play either guard position and gives the Saints options, with Larry Warford and Andrus Peat currently filling those positions. Warford is in the last year of his deal and the Saints could very much let him walk after next season. Ruiz brings the ability to get out on the edge and lead the way for a running back, is a great pass protector who only allowed 25 total pressures and 3 sacks over 995 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

 

Ruiz was the first of four starting Michigan lineman to be drafted. They were successful in keeping their quarterbacks upright, but lack of consistent scheme and poor coaching is why the offensive line was not praised more. The 24th overall pick stands at 6’3″, 307 lbs, ran a 5.08 in the 40-yard dash, and a 4.64 in the 20-yard shuttle. He has the footwork, technique, speed, and power in run-blocking and pass-protection to be a reliable starting Guard and/or Center in this league. The Saints get a huge upgrade with Ruiz.

The Head-Scratcher: Tommy Stevens

Don’t like this pick at all, especially with the news of Taysom Hill resigning to a new deal and the Saints potentially getting Jameis Winston in free agency. Stevens was not that productive with both Penn State and Mississippi. Stevens threw for 304 yards and four passing touchdowns at Penn State. In his lone season with the Bulldogs, Stevens completed 97 of 161 passes for 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns. His running ability is what separated him from traditional Nittany Lion quarterbacks, but in the grand scheme, this pick doesn’t make sense.

The Saints have a vision with him, however. As much as this Saints pick is questionable, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis continually prove fans and the rest of the NFL wrong every season. It will be interesting to see how the Saints utilize him going forward, but for now, this has to be the head-scratcher.

The Steal: Zack Baun

This was a projected first to second-round pick according to NFL.com. Zack Baun is listed as an outside linebacker, or defensive end depending on who you ask, but his versatility stretches much more than that. Saints fans are probably wondering why the Saints would draft another guy to rush the passer when they already have Marcus Davenport and Cameron Jordan on the roster. Here’s why: out of the linebackers available, Baun was one that has coverage ability. The Saints have downhill linebackers on their rosters, but now, they need versatility. Baun provides this.

Of course, the Saints will use him as a pass rusher in certain packages. To get Baun mid round three is certainly a steal, especially with how much he brings to the table. Take a look at his highlights below if you aren’t a believer:

Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Adam Trautman

After the Saints failed experiment with Alize Mack last season, the Saints nab talented tight end, Adam Trautman, from Dayton. Although the pick was a little surprising with Jared Cook and Josh Hill on their roster, Trautman brings a whole new dynamic to that room. The dominance he displayed, even at the FCS level, can’t be ignored, whether it was on jump balls or putting defenders in the dirt.

He does so many things well, from in-line blocking to creating separation downfield, to boxing out defenders on the goal-line. He can be a nice compliment to Jared Cook and gives Drew Brees yet another weapon to work with as he looks to cap off his potential last season with a Super Bowl. Saints fans should be excited about their offense next season.

Bottom Line

The Saints got better in the draft. The first three players selected are immediate contributors, and all of the picks seem to have a plan set ahead for them. The Saints are building long past the Drew Brees era and have the potential to not miss a beat when he does indeed retire. The Saints drafts always fly under the radar, and since 2017, have pretty much maximized their talent.