New Orleans picked up this peripatetic pick by letting Payton go to Denver. Van Ness should be an every-down player who can line up outside or in depending on the situation. And with this D-line set to lose David Onyemata, Marcus Davenport and Shy Tuttle, a versatile replacement who can get to the quarterback — Van Ness has 13 sacks and 17 TFLs over the past two seasons — would provide welcome support to aging DE Cam Jordan, 33.
Good news: The Saints got a much-needed first-round pick in the Sean Payton deal. Bad news: It's not nearly high enough to land the team a QB. Instead, the focus is on defense. Brady Roby and PJ Williams are set to be free agents and Cam Smith is a first-round talent who can be a Day 1 contributor.
The Saints have been trying to find the next edge rusher to pass the torch to as Cameron Jordan is getting older. They take one more swing at it and select Derick Hall. Hall has a lot of potential as an edge rusher and a veteran like Jordan could help Hall refine his tools to reach his max potential as a player.
The Saints are the fourth team to own the rights to this pick, after reaching agreement with the Broncos on a trade for Sean Payton. Van Ness is a prospect who has the upside to go much earlier than this, but he'd be a good fit for the Saints. Cam Jordan turns 34 this summer, and former first-rounder Payton Turner has only three sacks in 13 games through two seasons. Van Ness has a blend of power, length and a quick first step with inside-outside versatility.
The Saints got back into the first round thanks to the Sean Payton trade, and they need to reload inside with four defensive tackles potentially heading to free agency. Smith could be the perfect answer with his unique mix of size, strength and speed at 6-foot-3, 337 pounds. He was No. 1 on Bruce Feldman's Freaks List heading into the 2022 season, and he is going to light up the combine at the end of the month. At Michigan, he earned All-Big Ten First Team honors in 2022. He needs to improve his pass rush and his consistency, and the Saints will need to do their due diligence on a gun charge from an October traffic stop (he pled guilty to a misdemeanor), but his ceiling is incredibly high.
The Saints got back into Round 1 with the Sean Payton trade and have a chance to land a replacement for Marcus Davenport if the veteran pass-rusher departs in free agency -- which seems likely given the Saints' salary-cap situation. White is coming off a 7.5-sack season and just had a good week in Mobile, Alabama, at the Senior Bowl. The pass rush was a strength in New Orleans last season (48 sacks, tied for fifth), but Cameron Jordan is turning 34, and defensive tackle David Onyemata is scheduled to join Davenport in free agency.
Assuming the Saints address the quarterback position before the draft, replenishing a weakened defensive line will be a top priority. The hype train is in full effect already for Van Ness. He reportedly received a first-round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee before declaring early for the draft despite not starting a single game for the Hawkeyes. He clearly has the functional strength needed at the next level and features a dominant bull rush with an NFL-caliber spin move.
If the Saints land a quarterback via trade/free agency, then I could see them turning their attention to the D-line early in the draft. New defensive coordinator Joe Woods will likely keep the team's four-man front, where Tuipulotu would be a great find in the late first because of his power and agility at 290 pounds. ... Sort of sounds like Cameron Jordan coming out of Cal, doesn't it?