Sunday, April 30, 2023

New Orleans Saints 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the New Orleans Saints? What are they saying about the Saints' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: B+

The Saints should have had a top-10 pick this year, but it was sent to the Eagles as part of a deal last year that netted New Orleans a pair of mid-first-round choices in 2022. They took a reasonable risk late in the first (a pick they received for Sean Payton) that the hard-working, agile Bresee's medical issues are behind him. Foskey is their type of powerful base end, though Keion White was still on the board. Miller was a wise pick; his open-field burst could lead to explosive plays.

Saldiveri fills the Saints' need for an athletic interior lineman, but I thought he could go in Round 3. Haener was the perfect selection as an efficient backup for Derek Carr with starter potential, so giving up a seventh-rounder this year and a 2024 fourth-round pick made sense. Safety was on their needs list, too, and Howden made himself into a draftable player this season. Sending tight end Adam Trautman to Denver to get a downfield threat in Perry benefitted both parties.

ESPN - Grade: B-

This was an interesting draft for the Saints, who originally traded away their first-rounder last April then added one as a result of former coach Sean Payton getting hired by the Broncos. The Saints ended up picking 19 spots after their original selection. If they had their own pick at No. 10, they could have made the move up one spot to get Jalen Carter, like the Eagles did, and fill their biggest hole.

New Orleans instead landed my third-ranked DT Bryan Bresee (29), who isn't as good against the run as Carter but does have some pass-rush upside. After his freshman season in 2020, I thought Bresee was a future top-five pick, but he missed all of 2021 with an ACL injury. If he can put everything together, he could be worth it, because teams covet interior pass-rushers.

I thought the Saints reached a bit for edge rusher Isaiah Foskey (40) on Day 2, and I would have preferred running back Devon Achane over Kendre Miller (71). Nick Saldiveri (103) played mostly right tackle in college, but he likely will move inside to guard for New Orleans. Quarterback Jake Haener (127) landed in a fun spot; his closest comp in size and mechanics is Drew Brees. Now, if the 6-foot passer becomes as good as Brees, I'll be regrading this draft as an A+, but I see his ceiling as a really solid backup behind Derek Carr or a low-end starter. A.T. Perry (195), a 6-foot-3 wideout, had 26 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

There were a few significant reaches in this New Orleans class, which drops it to the lowest tier of these grades.

SI - Grade: B

It's no surprise that the Saints prioritized defensive linemen in the draft after losing a few starters to free agency. If Bresee can stay healthy, he'll make an impact as a starting rookie because he was a disruptor for Clemson. The win-now Saints reached in selecting Foskey, who has an intriguing skillset but will need time to improve against the run. New Orleans had the option of drafting edge rusher Keion White, a more polished prospect. For an intriguing pick, the Saints selected Haener to play behind Derek Carr and Jameis Winston. Perhaps New Orleans sees starting potential for the Fresno State product.

PFF - Grade: B-

Day 1: A talented player on the defensive interior, Bresee is coming off a season where he posted a career-high 82.0 PFF pass-rushing grade. He can play across multiple spots on the interior and even has some experience playing outside the tackles.

Day 2: Foskey has the size and athletic profile that New Orleans tends to covet on the edge. He uses his 34-plus-inch arms well to keep himself clean but never dominated as a pass-rusher at Notre Dame like his sack numbers might indicate, posting a 42nd-percentile pass-rush grade at the position over the past two seasons.

Miller was remarkably productive at TCU, averaging over 6.5 yards per carry over the last two seasons. He earned an 88.5 rushing grade and forced 70 missed tackles in 2022, the latter a top-25 mark. Miller can bounce runs outside and make one sharp cut to get upfield in a hurry, and his 816 yards after contact ranked sixth in the Power Five.

Day 3: Saldiveri earned an 85.1 pass-blocking grade in 2022 at tackle but likely moves inside to guard at the next level. Both starting guards in New Orleans are entering contract years if the Saints decline the fifth-year option for 2020 first-round pick Cesar Ruiz. Saldiveri was a late riser who generated a ton of buzz over the last few weeks, and New Orleans felt it was necessary to trade up to ensure it got him.

The Saints give up a 2024 fourth-round pick to move all the way up from Pick 227 and select the Fresno State quarterback. Haener excelled on throws between 10 and 19 yards downfield, producing a 92.1 PFF grade on those plays, but he earned just a 45.7 PFF grade under pressure.

Howden earned an 80.6 coverage grade with an 18.4% forced incompletion rate in 2022, and he rarely misses a tackle (3.1% missed tackle rate). He's a solid and reliable player on the back end with above-average athleticism and almost 2,000 snaps over the past three seasons.

Perry's consistency left something to be desired at Wake Forest, but this is great value for the Saints in Round 6. Perry has an impressive catch radius paired with an ability to create separation downfield. He's coming off back-to-back seasons at Wake Forest with at least 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions.

Forsyth played 805 snaps in 2022, producing a 72.0 grade in 2022 that included an 83.5 true pass-blocking grade. He allowed just one hurry from 408 pass-blocking snaps.

Fox Sports - Grade: C+

Addressing the defensive front was the right move, though first-rounder Bryan Bresee feels like better value than second-round pick Isaiah Foskey. Trading up for offensive lineman Nick Saldiveri made sense as an aggressive start to Saturday, and fourth-round QB Jake Haener is a smart passer who can just learn from fellow Fresno State alum Derek Carr for a year. The top pick in this draft was used to get Chris Olave last year, so you can factor that in as well.

USA Today - Grade: C+

A little meat and potatoes, which is fine given the arrival of QB Derek Carr — and fun that he gets to mentor fellow former Fresno State passer Jake Haener (Round 4). New Orleans got deeper with first-round DT Bryan Bresee, second-round DE Isaiah Foskey and RB Kendre Miller, who's additional Alvin Kamara insurance. Bresee lands here as part of the Sean Payton "trade," though 2022 Round 1 OT Trevor Penning needs to make last year's trade with the Eagles, which cost New Orleans a top-10 pick, pay off.

The Ringer - Grade: C-

The Saints made some additions to their depleted defensive line, grabbing Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee in the first round before adding Notre Dame edge rusher Isaiah Foskey in the second—with the latter pick representing a sizable reach per my board (he was my 91st ranked player). Former TCU running back Kendre Miller adds depth to the running back position and Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener should fit in nicely as Derek Carr's backup. But my favorite Saints pick was probably wide receiver A.T. Perry in the sixth round, a great value there for a guy I had ranked 65th on my board. New Orleans added some quality depth players, but I don't know if there's a star in this group.

Sporting News - Grade: B

This grade is weighed heavily on Bresee and Foskey being great fits for Dennis Allen up front after his defense has been gutted the past two offseasons. Otherwise, Mickey Loomis' best picks were offensive support from Saldiveri and Perry. Miller and Haener were head-scratching reaches based on what New Orleans already had.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: B

The Saints lost a lot of talent along their defensive line in free agency, and they addressed that with authority in this draft. If Bryan Bresee can stay healthy, he'll be one of the best interior disruptors in this entire draft class. He's a natural one-gap penetrator, and you can line him up everywhere from nose shade to edge. I liked Isaiah Foskey's tape more than some people I've talked to, and head coach Dennis Allen won't have any trouble taking Foskey's 12 sacks and 33 total pressures from last season and extracting that kind of production in his concepts.

The steal of this group is Wake Forest receiver A.T. Perry, who I thought would go in the second day. Perhaps the Demon Deacons' offense is tough for NFL people to project (I would understand that), but Perry caught 81 passes for 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. I'm not sure how much "projecting" you need to do there. And the Saints can have Fresno State Alumni Day every day with Derek Carr and Jake Haener, who is a quality developmental quarterback.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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