Making the case for the Saints to draft a left tackle at No. 14

You never want to have much uncertainty about your left tackle spot, but that’s where the New Orleans Saints find themselves one week before the 2024 NFL draft. It’s a position that should be clearly in their crosshairs in the first round, where New Orleans is scheduled to pick at No. 14 overall.

The Saints drafted Trevor Penning as a developmental prospect in 2022, but gave him little time to develop after he essentially redshirted his rookie year with injuries. Penning was benched six games into his career in 2023. It’s been two years but six or seven real games’ worth of experience hasn’t been enough for Penning to learn from. He instead has been relegated to watching from the sidelines. Not only was this a disservice to Penning, it’s also a disservice to the new offensive coaching staff inheriting him.

They will have to decide if Penning is the left tackle of the future with limited tape to judge from. Getting benched after six starts in 2023 is unfair, but it also speaks volumes to how the team viewed his performance. Based on how quickly the last offensive coaching staff gave up on Penning, pressing the reset button at the position is a valid way to go. In a strong offensive line class, Penning could be written off as a failed experiment in favor of a player with a higher ceiling.

Options will be available, including readymade starters like Olu Fashanu (Penn State) and Troy Fautanu (Washington). Drafting a left tackle with the 14th pick doesn’t have to spell the end of Penning, however. The Saints can move him inside to guard (where some believed he projected better coming out of the draft) or move him to right tackle, where they also have a major vulnerability. The possibility of converting Penning at guard or right tackle furthers the claim he shouldn’t keep you from drafting your franchise left tackle. It all comes back to one critical question: How much does the new staff believe in Trevor Penning?

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire