Five weeks before the NFL draft, mock drafts are everywhere. On one national website, four different writers have four different answers on who the New Orleans Saints will draft with the 15th pick in the first round.
What will Sean Payton do? If you look at his past, you may get a very good read on the Saints head coach's future selections.
Since Payton arrived in 2006, the Saints have invested heavily on the offensive line and defensive backs.
Some of those o-line selections (Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks) have been superb. Others (Andy Alleman, Matt Tennant) have been misses. But Payton's philosophy is clear. Develop your own on the offensive line. Be patient as they learn, and when they reach free agency, let them walk. The only way to perpetuate this philosophy is to continue drafting offensive linemen.
In back-to-back offseasons, the Saints have allowed Nicks and offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod to walk.
Bushrod was drafted in 2007 and finally settled in as a starter in 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl. One of the top candidates to replace Bushrod is Charles Brown, a second round pick in 2010.
In four drafts (2006, 2007, 2010, 2012), the Saints selected two offensive linemen.
Since Payton arrived in 2006, New Orleans has made 42 selections. Ten of those choices have been defensive backs.
In 2008, the inability to prevent big pass plays was one of the big reasons for an 8-8 finish by the Saints. Payton then drafted Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson with consecutive first round picks.
In 2012, the Saints pass defense was again porous. So, Payton signed former O. Perry Walker High star Keenan Lewis as a veteran free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It would surprise no one if New Orleans drafted additional help in the secondary.
Since 2006, the wide receivers drafted by the Saints all have one thing in common: size.
Four wideouts drafted by the Saints were 6-foot-2 or taller. They are Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Adrian Arrington, and Nick Toon. The other was Mike Hass, who stood 6-foot-1 inches tall.
Sean Payton has proven to be a bargain shopper for running backs. Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory are both undrafted free agents.
Darren Sproles was signed in free agency. Mark Ingram, drafted in the first round in 2011, is the first running back to be drafted by the club since Antonio Pittman in 2007.
Payton has also been a bargain shopper at tight end. The Saints have spent only one pick on a tight end (Jimmy Graham in 2010) since 2006. The Saints picked up a veteran, Benjamin Watson, at the position already in free agency.
And even though Chase Daniel signed with Kansas City, the Saints will likely not draft a quarterback. Only once in the Payton era (Sean Canfield in 2010) have the Saints drafted a quarterback.
Mock drafts make for interesting reading.
But if you want to know where the Saints are looking, look at the recent past.
Payton, who specializes in confusing oppositing defenses, is actually most predictable in the draft room.
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