Report: Saints would have had to trade 3 first rounders to get into top 10

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John Sigler
·2 min read
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New Orleans Saints fans went into the first round of the 2021 NFL draft with high expectations — owing to multiple reports that the team was exploring a bold trade up from No. 28 and into the top 10 selections, targeting a non-quarterback. The Saints ultimately didn’t make that move, though, and it’s because the cost was just too high for them to rationalize. SI.com’s Albert Breer reports that it would have taken three first rounders to vault up the draft board:

“The Saints sniffed around on trading up for one of the draft’s top corners. My sense is they were bargain-shopping a little (I heard from a couple of teams that they weren’t going to put a third first-rounder on the table to jump from No. 28), which is why they were never particularly close on a deal. But had they gone up, I’m told they liked both Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina’s Horn, either of whom would have given them some flexibility with Marshon Lattimore (both the contract and his legal situation).”

That lines up with previous reports that the Denver Broncos wanted the Saints to spend multiple first and second round picks on a jump from No. 28 to 10, and it’s easy to see why New Orleans balked at that. Such a cost would have decapitated their next two draft classes and forced an all-in push to win a Super Bowl in 2021, which runs against the moves the Saints have made so far in bringing in low-cost, high-upside free agents while stockpiling compensatory draft picks and signing Jameis Winston to a prove-it deal.

It just wouldn’t have made any sense, which is why the Saints didn’t pull the trigger on such a move. While Horn or Surtain would have given them a lockdown option opposite Lattimore, punting on the next two draft classes (having given up Nos. 28 and 60 this year, plus first rounders in 2022 and 2023) wasn’t worth it.

We’ll see what their next moves include. They were able to add a great prospect in Paulson Adebo to compete for a starting job right away, but don’t be shocked if the Saints bring in an experienced free agent to avoid rushing Adebo into action too quickly. With the 2022 comp picks gaining protection on Monday afternoon, the Saints will be able to make more pickups sooner rather than later.

List

Grading each pick in the 2021 Saints draft class