The Complete New Orleans Saints 2024 Draft Report Card

Saints VP/Assistant General Manager, Jeff Ireland; CREDIT: Alex Restrepo/New Orleans Saints

Another NFL draft is in the books, pending the slew of undrafted free agents that the team will bring in, the Saints finish making seven selections this year. There was just one trade made by the team this cycle, moving from 45 to 41 in the second round, which is different from the approach they have taken in past years. With no shortage of needs for the Saints approaching the beginning of the camp period of the offseason, the pressure was on the front office more than its been in years – let’s see how they did.

Round 1, Pick 14: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Oregon State OT, Taliese Fuaga (75); CREDIT (Oregon State Athletics)

The Saints began the draft with a very chalky pick, but, as I said on Friday morning, that doesn’t mean it was the wrong move by any means. Fuaga possesses one of the highest floors in this entire elite tackle class. His power and refined technique and mechanics not only gives him positional versatility, but essentially makes him a lock to be slotted as a starter by the beginning of training camp. With the amount of uncertainty surrounding the Saints offensive line following the Ryan Ramcyzk injury update, James Hurst retiring and the uncertain development of Trevor Penning – this was a very safe pick and will be an immediate contributor for this team. The only reason this isn’t an A is because Fuaga was not the best player available with Dallas Turner sitting there. Even though Loomis claimed that they were not married to taking an offensive lineman prior to the first round, I find it hard to believe that to be true no matter how the way the board fell.

Grade: B+

Round 2, Pick 41: Kool-Aid Mckinstry, CB, Alabama

Alabama Cornerback, Kool-Aid Mckinstry; CREDIT: Ryan Kang/Getty Images

Taking an offensive tackle at 14 gave the team a lot of flexibility with what the could do with pick 45. They elected to dump one of their four 5th rounders and one of their two 6th rounders to move up four slots and take one of the best players available after the first round in McKinstry. This is the perfect combination between best player available and scheme fit – the Alabama product was the best pure cover corner in this class and excels in press man coverage, which is something Dennis Allen will really covet. The only issue here lies with his fit for this year especially. Marshon Lattimore is obviously one of the elite corners in the league, Paulson Adebo is coming off a pro bowl caliber year and although Alontae Taylor struggled at times adjusting to being a slot corner this past year – his upside alone ensures him a starting spot in some capacity going into camp. Kool-Aid will undoubtedly contribute this year in some way, however, how exactly will he be added to this shuffle on day 1? In this slot, the value is an A+, however, fit wise – a pass catcher such as Adonai Mitchell would have been a more clear fit. Still, especially under the tutelage of Dennis Allen and DB coach Marcus Robinson, a player as refined and pro ready as McKinstry could turn into an elite corner very quickly which warrants an A for this selection.

Grade: A

Round 5, Pick 150: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma/South Carolina

South Carolina Quarterback, Spencer Rattler at Senior Bowl; CREDIT:

Unequivocally the most fascinating pick/prospect made by the Saints, Rattler marks the third day three quarterback in the past four years (Ian Book – 2021; Jake Haener – 2023) taken by the Saints – and this one is easily the most intriguing/gifted out of the three. A former blue chip recruit out of high school, Heisman Trophy favorite and candidate to go first overall before Caleb Williams beat him out for the Oklahoma job back in the 2022 season – Rattler possesses natural ability that would warrant a first round selection in most any other cases. Rattler transferred to South Carolina running a system under Shane Biemer that mirrors the pro game more than most others around the country. He put together two more-than-solid years on a team that was very limited in talent around him. He also seemed to mature far from the way he was portrayed on Netflix’s “QB1: Beyond The Lights” back when he was in high school where he acted in ways that possibly contributed to his draft slide even years later. An elite arm, ability to create and downfield accuracy are Rattler’s major pluses, but his footwork is spotty, his decisiveness and his overall mechanics still need to be refined before he sees the field in the NFL. Still with so many pressing needs remaining, taking a flier on a high ceiling quarterback prospect is a little problematic in my opinion. This is another pick where value is an A+, but there are other areas that may have helped the 2024 Saints more so than this selection. I will note that the approach change taking a talent like Rattler over limited athletes like Book and Haener is a positive trend that bumps this grade up into the high Bs.

Grade: B+

Round 5, Pick 170: Bub Means, WR, Pittsburgh

Pitt Wide Receiver, Bub Means (0); CREDIT: (Pitt Athletics)

The Saints finally added a pass catcher with their fourth selection, and they got a really good athlete out of it. At 6’1, 212 lbs and 4.43 speed, Means fits the exact profile the Saints needed to look for to add to their receiver room. He is physical at the catch point and as a blocker while also being dynamic with the ball in his hands after the catch. His issues align similarly with A.T. Perry, has a pretty limited route tree and is extremely unrefined as a player. He will not be asked to contribute right away, and his proficiency as a gunner on punt team will make him useful for this upcoming year, but there is real ability here. It will be up to the Saints to get the most out of him. The fact that he will more than likely not be a contender to contribute this upcoming year makes me hesitate to go too high here, but I think they’re on the right track for the type of player that they should be looking for to add to their thin WR room.

Grade: B

Round 5, Pick 175: Jaylan Ford, LB, Texas

Texas Linebacker, Jaylen Ford; CREDIT: (University of Texas Athletics(

Really like the player they were able to land here. Ford was extremely productive in his two years staring for Texas. Just last year, he amassed 101 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 2 INTs and a forced fumble, and was used in a ton of different ways in a very good UT front seven. At 6’2, 240 lbs, he has very solid NFL linebacker size and was a positive as a blitzer, against the run and as a play maker in pass coverage. He is a limited athlete that gets caught a step behind because of his mediocre lateral speed, and at 240 lbs, he doesn’t have the strength to be a major factor against the run. Sitting and learning behind Demario Davis will do him wonders in improving his game before he is thrust into NFL action. I do believe that he will be the fourth linebacker behind Davis, Pete Werner and Willie Gay Jr, and if an injury were to take place, I believe he will be capable in filling in because of his experience and versatility. I have concerns about how his athleticism will translate to the pro game, but I really like his game a lot – he always seemed to come up clutch in a big spots especially last year. Even if he isn’t asked to see significant game action, he was also a proficient special teamer throughout his career at UT which bumps his value even more.

Grade: A-

Round 6, Pick 199: Khristian Boyd, DL, Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa Defensive Tackle, Khristian Boyd; CREDIT: Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I have wrote very often about the Saints’ major need for speed on the defensive line along with major help in pass rush. However, they were basically just as weak against the run, and depth along the interior of the defensive line was another major area of need that the team was compelled to attack in this draft. They did just that here adding nimble big man Khristian Boyd. At 6’2 and over 320 pounds, Boyd is light enough on his feet and able to bend through gaps to the point where he should be able to work into run down situations within his first year. Similar to Trevor Penning, who is also a Northern Iowa alum, Boyd will face the inevitable learning curve going up against a whole new level of talent. I am concerned that his lack of proficiency as a pass rusher may keep him from ever being a heavy rotational player, but I like the athletic profile enough to keep this grade out of the Cs.

Grade: B-

Round 7, Pick 233: Josiah Ezirim, OT, Eastern Michigan

Eastern Kentucky OT, Josiah Ezirim (75); CREDIT: (Eastern Kentucky University Athletics)

This is a pick I am super enamored with, anytime you can get a lineman who converted from defense and played multiple positions along the line this late in the draft – you know you have a highly athletic player. Ezirim moves very well especially as a puller or when climbing to the second level, and for a guy who is 6’6, 329 lbs with over 35-inch arms and nearly 11-inch hands, he has a body that can fit either guard or tackle positions. To me, Ezirim will be as successful as new Saints offensive line coach, John Benton can make him. Being an offensive tackle for just the past three and a half years in the FCS, he will need a ton of coaching to make him an NFL player. If Benton can get through to him and he finds a position that is best for him (likely right tackle) the Saints clearly see something in him that warranted a draft pick. I think you have your guy who’s a limited power player but can play multiple positions in Nick Saldiveri, now you get a guy here who is this monstrous athlete that needs tuning. I like the idea of what the Saints are doing here in trying to fill out as thin an offensive line room as there is in the league right now.

Grade: B+

All in all, this was a more than solid haul that the Saints were able to get. They addressed many needs, got a lot of high value selections and did it all without having to give up any assets from future drafts. It is not a life changing draft by any means, but that’s not necessarily what it needed to be. The Saints are obviously making a point to factor in the future more in their plans this offseason. Whether that is in trying to control their cap situation, or here where they are trying to have a full deck going into the draft next for the first time in awhile.

Being aggressive can have major payoffs as they have in the past for this franchise, however, when you are in a state of being an old roster combined with not frontline contending for a Super Bowl, consideration of the future is paramount. I believe these seven selections are keyed in on a new and more controlled approach the Saints’ front office wants to take moving forward these next few years. Unless results on the field begin to warrant a move to cast yourself greater into contention, a more conservative draft approach was definitely the smart move this weekend. The board happened to fall very favorably for the team here, and I think their execution and patience warrants a grade in the As.

Overall Grade: A-

You may also like...