Last-Minute Look at Players Saints Are Rumored to Be Targeting in This Week’s Draft

Photo Credit: Ohio State Buckeyes Football on

The 2020 NFL Draft is now only just 3 more days away from now, starting this Thursday Night; and the New Orleans Saints will be among the League’s 32 teams that will be seeking to improve their rosters with the selection of some of College Football’s best, biggest, and brightest future star players.

However there’s been plenty of speculation within the past several days, as to exactly which players that the Saints Front Office Management team of general manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton, and Director of College Scouting Jeff Ireland, might be targeting.

With that in mind, this morning here at Big Easy Magazine we’re going to take a last-minute look — at a few of the names of players whom have been “rumored” or prominently linked to New Orleans the most — and possibly could end up as one of the next rookies to wear the Black and Gold.

And we begin with…


The somewhat-shocking thought that the Saints might actually trade starting #1 RB and now-4th year NFL “superstar” Alvin Kamara likely seems far-fetched to a large majority of Saints fans, but the reality is that it’s an option that New Orleans just might be considering — given the report that the Saints have met not just once but now twice with Ohio State University All-American RB J.K. Dobbins.

Naturally, the question has to be asked: could the Saints actually end up selecting a top-rated college RB in this Draft, as a potential “replacement” for Kamara? Surprisingly, the answer is “yes” — and here’s the reason why.

Kamara will be in a contract-year this coming season, and despite his notable accomplishments and rise to fame after being taken (ironically via a trade) by the Saints in the 3rd Round of the 2017 NFL Draft three years ago, he could pose quite a dilemma for team management (as noted by Saints News Network analyst Kyle T. Mosley) if they aren’t able to come to an agreement with him on an extension sometime before this year is over.

Kamara could potentially seek to be paid up to $16 million per season, which would equal the amount of money recently given to Carolina Panthers All-Pro RB Christian McCaffrey that made him the League’s highest paid player at the running back position. With the Saints also needing to have the money available under the salary cap to re-sign starting #1 CB Marshon Lattimore and starting offensive right tackle Ryan Ramczyk to new deals next off-season as well, chances are that they might not be able to afford all of them.

On top of all that, running backs endure the most physical punishment on a week-to-week basis in the NFL; which is why players at that position specifically, typically tend to have much shorter professional careers. As a testament to that fact, Kamara missed a few games last year due to a nagging leg injury. Given those factors listed above, the likelihood that he could be traded — especially since the Saints might consider such a move to get back the 2nd Round pick they gave up to Miami in last year’s draft to take starting center Erik McCoy — is a very real one.

Dobbins is one of the top RB’s in this year’s class, and he is projected to go anywhere between the latter part of Round 1 (where the Saints currently will be picking at #24 overall) and the middle of Round 2; which is presumably near the spot where the Saints would be picking if they were to make such a move.

Dobbins ran for 21 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards for the Buckeyes, and as a junior last season averaged a whopping 6.7 yards per carry. Additionally, Dobbins might even be the best RB in this year’s Draft class at catching passes out of the backfield, the same trait that helped make Kamara a “superstar”.

As far-fetched as it might seem that the Saints would ever seriously think about trading Kamara to another team, it’s not a scenario that’s totally impossible by any means. As the old saying goes: “never say never”  (especially with the Saints).


The linebacker position — much like the wide receiver position for New Orleans — has suddenly become a priority for the team this off-season; in spite of the phenomenal All-Pro season last year in 2019 that was put together by 31-year old veteran Demario Davis.  Since his arrival after the team signed him in 2018 NFL Free Agency just 2 years ago, Davis is now widely considered to be one of the greatest Saints free agent signings of all-time in the franchise’s entire 53-year history.

However, the Saints lost starting linebacker A.J. Klein in Free Agency a few weeks back when he signed with Buffalo; and they still have a few more players at the position that will be free agents next off-season in 2021 (Davis, Alex Anzalone. and Craig Robertson). That makes the LB position one that they must address, and the one name that many analysts and observers in recent weeks have consistently projected as a possible pick is former LSU stand-out linebacker Patrick Queen.

While it’s true that the Saints have developed a reputation (especially among ‘Who Dat’ fans living locally in Louisiana) for not taking any former LSU players in a majority of their past NFL Draft classes, this is the year that it all could change; and Queen is a player who could very well still be available once New Orleans is officially “on the clock” with the #24 overall pick.

The 6-foot-1, 227 pound Queen has dramatically risen up a handful of NFL team Draft Boards, and with little fan-fare has emerged as a prospect that many analysts feel makes him one of the top-rated defensive players in the entire 2020 Draft Class. The former Livonia High School star (located in Pointe Coupee Parish, just several miles northwest of Baton Rouge) is viewed as a young man who can become a “star” at the next level, mainly because of his God-given natural instincts and high football IQ at the inside linebacker position — in addition to his phenomenal closing speed and strength while pursuing opposing ball-carriers.

Queen made a grand total of 85 tackles last year, with 12 of those tackles for a loss as he helped contribute in a major way in leading LSU to the CFP National Championship. Depending on who you ask, the 20-year old youngster is considered the top-ranked inside linebacker in this year’s Draft Class, and with the Saints current linebacker corps expected to undergo a significant change in the upcoming seasons ahead, Queen potentially could become an important piece for the Black and Gold’s defensive future moving forward.

ESPN’s NFL Draft Expert Todd McShay says that Queen will more than likely will line up as a “Will” / weakside LB (the spot currently held by 4th year veteran but injury-prone Anzalone) once he reaches the NFL, and notes that the dynamic play-maker will have more physical spacing when he assumes that role; which hopefully will allow him to run after, chase and ultimately pursue ball-carriers from “sideline-to-sideline”, which he does best.

With all of the Saints linebacker spots expected to undergo a huge transformation over the course of the next several seasons ahead, the position is one that New Orleans very likely will address in this week’s draft process. The only question at this point is just who and when (during whichever round they decide to pick one) that player will be. Make no mistake about this much: a selection of Queen by Saints team brass would be welcomed with “open arms” by the ‘Who Dats’ that support the LSU football program, just as much as they do the Black and Gold.


While New Orleans did address one of their primary “team needs” at the wide receiver position in Free Agency a few weeks ago with the signing of former San Francisco 49ers WR and 10th year veteran Emmanuel Sanders, they are still expected to add another player at the position while seeking to improve the overall talent and depth behind #1 All-Pro Saints WR Michael Thomas.

One of the players mentioned prominently as a potential pick at #24 overall in Round 1 for the Black and Gold is former Arizona State University star Brandon Aiyuk (pronounced EYE-yook), whose overall talent and still-blossoming skill-set are considered traits that would make him a “perfect fit” within head coach Sean Payton‘s offensive scheme by a handful of well-respected observers and analysts.

The 6-foot-1. 206 pound Reno, Nevada native actually began his collegiate career in junior college (Sierra College, just outside of Sacramento, California), before transferring to Arizona State for the remaining final two seasons of his eligibility. It was with the Sun Devils program where he subsequently began to thrive and blossomed into a legitimate NFL prospect, and eventually became one of the Pac-12 Conference’s most dangerous WR’s.

In his final season at Arizona State in 2019 under Sun Devils 1st-year head coach (and former NFL player and head coach) Herm Edwards, Aiyuk hauled in 65 receptions for 1,192 yards and 8 TD’s. It was then that observers and analysts began paying more attention to the 22-year old pass-catcher. who was able to develop a notable reputation  for making ‘big plays’ and gaining more yardage after the catch.

Perhaps more importantly (and the reason why the Saints presumably would eye-ball him with their top pick in Round 1), Aiyuk displayed a knack for stretching the field vertically as a “deep ball” threat — clearly an element that the Saints offense has lacked in recent years — outside of the few plays that were occasionally made by former Saints veteran Ted Ginn, Jr., who the team opted not to re-sign this off-season.

That said, this seemingly would be the time for Saints management to go out and add a fresh new face to take over that role. Aiyuk also possesses top-notch skills as a punt and kick returner, and could fill that particular role with the team that eventually takes him if needed. USA TODAY DraftWire analyst Jacob Infante says that Aiyuk is a dynamic athlete with impressive fluidity and plenty of value after the catch. He notes that Aiyuk’s technique as a route-runner could be improved, but the explosiveness that he brings to an offense should make him high in demand as a secondary option at the next level.

A selection of another potential “weapon” for the Saints high-powered passing attack undoubtedly would give Payton a wide variety of different options heading into next season, and potentially could even become THE young man who ends up being the final missing piece that the Black and Gold needs to proverbially get “over the hump”; and win a Super Bowl before Drew Brees retires.


The cornerback position is another one on the current Saints roster that the team likely will seek to upgrade this week in the Draft, especially with #1 starter Marshon Lattimore set to become a free agent next off-season in 2021. The Saints this off-season opted not to re-sign former #2 starting CB Eli Apple, although they did re-sign his “replacement” in brand new #2 starting CB and now-9th year veteran Janoris Jenkins.

Nevertheless, the depth behind both Lattimore and Jenkins (namely back-ups P.J. Williams and Patrick Robinson) is suspect at best; and while many observers feel that the Saints could land a top-rated CB at the #24 overall spot in Round 1 such as A.J. Terrell of Clemson University, a name that’s been prominently linked in recent days to New Orleans is outstanding (and heavily underrated) Louisiana Tech University CB Amik Robertson.

A native of Thibodaux, Louisiana approximately 60 miles southwest of New Orleans, the former Thibodaux High School star excelled in his 3 seasons with the Bulldogs program located in Ruston, Louisana outside of Shreveport; and is considered by many to be one of this Draft class’ most underrated players, period.

In spite of his diminutive size (only 5-foot-8, 188 pounds), Robertson is a phenomenal all-around athlete, and is actually considered one of the very best “cover corners” coming out of college this year. Robertson was initially overlooked in the college recruiting process by the bigger universities such as LSU because of a knee injury that he suffered as a senior in high school, which prompted him to head up north to Ruston to play at Louisiana Tech.

Robertson went on to become an immediate starter as a freshman, and was eventually named a Freshman All-American. He ultimately grabbed 14 career interceptions and earned 1st Team All-Conference USA honors; and was also named a 2nd Team All-American by the Associated Press last year before opting to leave after what was his junior season.

Saints News Network / WWL TV New Orleans and long-time NFL Draft expert Mike Detillier says that Robertson can “flat out play”; and he makes the observation that Robertson is versatile, has top-of-the-ladder ball reaction skills, is a tough guy, has excellent recovery speed and quickness, and has a very high football IQ.

Detillier adds that Robertson is mentally sharp and personally reminds him of another undersized cornerback in Chris Harris Jr., who is considered one of the top cover cornerbacks in the entire NFL, after playing with the Denver Broncos for several seasons before recently signing with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Detillier projects Robertson to be taken somewhere in Round 3 (where the Saints will be picking at #88 overall), and notes that the team that lands him will be thrilled that they did so, rather quickly. Given that the Saints need to add depth at the position — especially with the uncertainty of Lattimore coming back in 2021 — a selection of Robertson is a distinct possibility. Robertson grew up a Saints fan as a youngster, and the likelihood of him ending up wearing the Black and Gold as a professional, would be a “dream come true” for both him and the Who Dat Nation.


Photo Credit: Utah State University Football on Twitter

While the Saints did re-sign current back-up #2 QB Taysom Hill after no other NFL team decided to make him an offer in Free Agency, the likelihood he actually becomes the team’s next “franchise QB” is still yet to be determined. Taysom is a superb and dynamic athlete as both a runner and receiver, and a stand-out performer on special teams. But as a drop-back, in-the-pocket QB purely from a passing perspective, the thought that Hill can become the next “franchise QB” still remains a question mark until he actually proves it out on the field.

Nevertheless, Saints head coach Sean Payton gave the impression in a recent interview that he expects Hill to take over the reins as the team’s starter beginning next season in 2021 after (and if) Drew Brees retires by then. However, several prominent observers and analysts that cover the League on a daily basis have scoffed at such a notion, due to Taysom’s relative inexperience at the position which has seen him only throw a grand total of 13 passes at the professional level.

But even if Hill does become the starter, the Saints will still NEED a #3 back-up QB behind both Brees and Hill; and that’s led to the speculation among a handful of observers that New Orleans could actually target a quarterback with their pick in Round 1 at #24 overall. One name that’s constantly been mentioned over and over again in recent weeks as a possible target is Utah State QB Jordan Love, the 6-foot-4, 225 pound strong-armed “gunslinger” who last year led the Aggies football program to one of its most successful eras in that school’s entire history dating back nearly 60 years.

In his 3 seasons as the starter after redshirting as a freshman prior to the 2016 College Football season, the 21-year old Love (he turns 22 in November) arguably became one of the program’s greatest players of all-time. After playing in 6 games as a starter during his redshirt freshman season of 2017, Love quickly emerged as one of the top-rated QB’s in the entire Mountain West Conference and led Utah State to two bowl appearances.

In all, Love passed for exactly 8,600 yards and 60 TD passes, with 29 interceptions in those three seasons (32 total starts) as the Aggies #1 starting QB, before declaring for the Draft after his junior season. As it turns out, Saints team brass — General Manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton, and Assistant GM / Director of College Scouting Jeff Ireland (along with several other prominent Saints college scouts who were also on hand) — got to see Love up close and in person at the annual Senior Bowl college all-star game back in January (and before the current ongoing COVID-19 pandemic / caronavirus health crisis).

Since declaring for the draft instead of transferring to another Power 5 program to bolster his reputation or to further improve upon his overall draft stock (or just simply choosing to remain with Utah State for a senior season in 2020); Love’s “draft stock” has risen rapidly in the past few weeks; and there are now some who believe that Love still could be taken by an NFL team that needs a QB, as high as a Top-10 pick.

However, Love still needs to further develop his passing skills despite his obvious physical gifts, as evidenced by the fact that he threw 17 interceptions last season, a sign that he’ll need to work on his timing and accuracy once he reaches the NFL. That said, there are still many observers who feel that Love would be the perfect heir to take over Sean Payton’s offense after Brees leaves, and he could benefit from sitting a season (or two) behind Brees.

But there’s also the thought that the Saints could simply just wait until the draft’s middle-to-late rounds and snag an underrated player at the position such as North Texas University QB Mason Fine, a player who’s been heavily compared to Brees and even worked out with Brees at his home out in San Diego, California back in early March. That said, if Love actually remains on the board until the #24 overall pick, the possibility that the Saints could actually decide to take him at that spot, is a very real one….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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