The Athletic gives Saints’ draft class thus far a rare Grade A

The Athletic’s Nick Baumgardner and Scott Dochterman took on the tough task of grading every pick all 32 NFL teams made in the first three rounds of the 2024 NFL draft, and their early reviews are very positive for the New Orleans Saints.

Which is very encouraging to hear, seeing as the Saints have only made two picks so far. They need to get the most out of first-round right tackle Taliese Fuaga and second-round cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, so this is at least a  good start. Here’s what Baumgardner wrote of Fuaga’s fit at No. 14:

The rush on quarterbacks really helped out a lot of teams in the back half of Round 1. It helped the Saints here, in a big way. Fuaga was a top-two tackle on some NFL boards, top-three on several more. And there wasn’t a team in the league more in need of tackle help than the Saints, who just landed a road grader.

Fuaga (6-5, 324) was dominant at times on the Beavers’ right side last season, as arguably the best run blocker in the country. This is a culture pick as much as anything else, too — Fuaga will help improve the team’s overall toughness up front. Great value for the Saints in the middle of the first round.

Grade: A

Here’s why Dochterman says the Saints earned such a high grade after trading up for McKinstry in Round 2:

New Orleans picked up a first-round talent, at its biggest position of need, in the second round. A fluid, versatile defensive back, McKinstry started 33 games at Alabama over three seasons. He intercepted just two career passes but defended 25 others and netted five tackles for loss. McKinstry (5-11, 199) ran a 4.47 40 at his pro day, and his 10-yard split of 1.44 seconds is considered elite.

Grade: A

For context on how rare this is, just two teams received an A-grade in each of the first two rounds: the Saints, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Los Angeles Chargers. While the Saints and Lions didn’t have a third-round pick, the Steelers, Chargers, and Giants did, and they each continued to receive an A. The Eagles came up just short with a B-plus for picking Houston Christian’s Jalyx Hunt late in Round 3.

So out of 32 teams only six earned A’s in the first two rounds. Of those six, three kept it going into the third round. That’s some tough grading but the Saints are on the right side of it. Let’s see if they can sustain it with more smart pickups on the third and final day of the 2024 draft.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire