May 2, 201708:05 AM
Full Sport Press
'The games we play in New Orleans and beyond'
New Orleans Draft
Saints add talented crop of youngsters
Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore
With the NFL Draft in the books, the 2017 NFL season has officially kicked off. Much like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is always in spring, hope is alive, once again, in New Orleans as the Saints have added some much-needed ammunition to a battleship that hasn’t seen action in the playoffs for far too long.
Sean Payton and company did a fine job with this NFL draft class, adding players that will be expected to play immediately and also looking to the future.
As expected, the Saints went defense to start the draft, in an attempt to fix a group that has hemorrhaged yards and, more importantly, hasn’t been able to make critical stops when needed.
The Saints nearly ran to the podium when they realized Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, a cornerback, was falling from the Top 10. Coupled with the Saints picking up Marcus Williams, a safety out of Utah, it’s really hard not to get excited about the defensive backfield of the Black and Gold.
Opposing quarterbacks may be looking at the city’s superhero Delvin Breaux locked on their number one receiver, with Lattimore or P.J. Williams — if he can stay healthy — on the other side. If the Saints are in a three-safety set, Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell are lurking with Williams roaming free. Surely, that has to translate into some positive situations for the Saints, right? Right?
If there were any surprises in the Saints’ draft they both came on the offensive side of the ball, the first being using their second first round pick to get Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk. First and foremost, Ramczyk — that’s a lineman’s name if there ever was one! I also like the pick because, at worst, it sets up a transition from Zach Strief to Ramczyk. Strief had a solid season last year, but is 34 years old, which to you and me is young, but in the NFL is pushing senior citizen status. Also, I’m not overly concerned with the internet hubbub about missing out on Rueben Foster, who was snagged by the 49ers. That guy hasn’t even played one down in the NFL and has already created enough drama for my liking. Hard pass.
While the Ramczyk pick may be focused down the road, the Saints pick of Alvin Kamara, who they traded up to select, shows the Saints are in, “Win Now,” mode. Look, Brees ain’t gettin’ any younger, folks and adding a weapon like the lightly-used tailback out of Tennessee is a great idea. Kamara is a lightning-quick, shifty tailback type that is going to make a lot of linebackers miss in pass coverage. He will make the league’s number one offense even better.
Also of note, the Saints selected a duo of linebackers out of the Sunshine State in the third round — Alex Anzalone out of Florida and Trey Hendrickson out of Florida Atlantic — in an attempt to improve the second line of a defense that relied too heavily on free-agent acquisitions last year. I loved the play of Craig Robertson last year, but he’s a stop-gap solution, not someone to build your linebacking corps around.
While Hendrickson will rush the passer in some situations, the biggest question mark of the draft would be the team taking their sweet time to get a true defensive end. They got Miami’s Al-Quadin Muhammad, who is described as an experiment with a big upside, which is the description of every sixth and seventh round pick in the history of man.
So, happy days are here again, Saints fans. In a year that has a definite, “Make or break,” feel to it, WhoDat Nation should be happy with how it’s started.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing – Courtyard Brewing’s “Added Dimension” American IPA
Playlist Recommendation – REM – “I Believe”
Around the Way
Tulane baseball (22-23) is in, “win some, lose some” mode at the absolute worst time. After a solid beginning to April, the Green Wave have dropped consecutive series to Houston and East Carolina. Their only saving grace over the past two weeks have been mid-week wins over Top 25 ball clubs, LSU and Southern Miss. This is the time where the big dogs separate from the pack, but Tulane is still stuck in it, tied with four other teams for first place at 9-6.
Which is good in a way. The season’s not over and there are still 11 games to play, but, after awhile, a team with an overall losing record that is tied for the conference lead, doesn’t really seem like a team, “on the rise,” but just one in a middling conference. But keep hope alive and keep your eye on the American Athletic Conference tournament next month. Tulane’s NCAA regional hopes will be decided there.
Tulane kicks off an eight-game home stand tonight at Turchin Field against Southeastern Louisiana. First pitch is 6:30 P.M.