Saints trade up but don't draft a QB, instead take WR Chris Olave with 11th pick

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There were no trades on Thursday night that included the top 10 picks of the NFL draft. Part of the problem was likely that teams in the top 10 had a hard time finding a trade partner. It wasn't considered a top-heavy draft and presumably no teams wanted to pay the extra freight to get a top-10 pick.

But the New Orleans Saints are always ready to make a move. Even if it was not for the quarterback everyone figured they must have been targeting when they traded up.

When the Washington Commanders went on the clock with the 11th overall pick, there was finally a trade. The Saints, who had acquired an extra first-round pick earlier this month in another trade, moved up. They sent the 16th, 98th and 120th overall picks to Washington. It seemed New Orleans, which was still looking for a permanent replacement for Drew Brees, had its eyes on a quarterback.

Nope. The Saints, in a draft that is deep at receiver, took Ohio State receiver Chris Olave with the 11th pick.

The Saints coveted WR Chris Olave (2) in the 2022 NFL draft. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The Saints coveted WR Chris Olave (2) in the 2022 NFL draft. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Saints could have assumed that Washington, which has receiver needs of its own, would have taken Olave. Maybe they had a grade on him that was far better than other receivers that would have been available five picks later. It was just an odd move for a team that has some needs to ship off two valuable mid-round picks to move up from No. 16 to No. 11 to take a receiver plenty of mock drafts projected would still be available at No. 16.

The Saints make a lot of impulsive moves, disregarding draft value to get what they need right now. They did so when they traded three picks to move up and take defensive end Marcus Davenport in 2018. Davenport hasn't had much of an impact. The Saints got the 16th and 19th picks in this year's draft by trading No. 18, No. 101 and No. 237 overall along with a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second to the Philadelphia Eagles. That was a heavy price to pay, especially when you add on the extra picks moved to go get Olave.

Olave is a talented receiver and the Saints need some playmakers at the position. They paid to go get their guy.