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New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham prepares to stop Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud during the second half of an NFL football game on Nov. 21, 2013, in Atlanta. (Associated Press)

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham prepares to stop Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud during the second half of an NFL football game on Nov. 21, 2013, in Atlanta. (Associated Press)

Saints have many ways to go in draft

Last Modified: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 4:16 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

The NFL draft is still a few weeks away, plenty of time for a few more tinkers with the roster in New Orleans.

It has been an offseason of change for the Saints, with more than a few big names getting sent packing to make cash space for even more new faces.

There is no question the Saints have decided to go in a different direction after being knocked out of the playoffs in the second round.

This process actually started last summer when Sean Payton turned his defense over to Rob Ryan.

The move worked as the Saints became much more physical and had a defense that could hold up pretty well. However, a poor final fourth of the season and a playoff defeat in Seattle left still more questions to be answered.

It also meant there were more holes to be filled.

Then came this offseason. Nobody associated with the franchise wants to call it rebuilding but rather a facelift.

Joan Rivers has had less wrinkles put under the knife than these Saints. Maybe we will just do with calling it a redecorating and leave it at that.

But now it is time to think about just what those final pieces to this puzzle will actually be.

The Saints have several ways they can go, but it’s hard to believe they will just add more pieces to the defense. As strange as it may sound, that group looks to be ahead of the offense.

You haven’t heard that in some time down in New Orleans.

Still, there is work to be done for these Saints, and just what direction they go in could tell us how good the brass feels about this team they are going to put on the field.

Most believe that if the Saints think they are in the hunt for a playoff spot right now, they might go with a wide receiver. Give Drew Brees one more big toy to play with in his final few seasons in New Orleans.

It makes sense. A good big receiver who doesn’t mind going over the middle might do wonders for a team that got just one catch out of its All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham in the playoff loss to the Seahawks.

A stud pass catcher could open things up for Graham and it sure would not hurt the team’s position when it comes to the next wave of contract talks with its tight end.

I would say a second tight end in case Graham decides not to be around after next fall would not be a bad idea, either, but it would likely be better for that pick later in the draft.

Now comes the real question. Would the Saints think about trading down if they really like the roster as it stands? A few picks in the later rounds could go a long way into adding depth to the team.

The lack of depth hurt the Saints last season as they wasted a great start and home field.

The best way back to the Super Bowl for the Saints is still to play its playoff games in New Orleans.

Trading down could also show that the club not only has confidence it all its moves already made but lead to the drafting of a quarterback.

It is time to at least think about finding an understudy to Brees who can be groomed for future starts. Their appears to be good value in the later rounds for this position.

LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, if healthy, could be a natural.

Trading up could hurt future moves, but that might be the right thing when you consider the age of Brees.

The window might be closing on his era and the Saints need to use this draft to find which direction they want to go in.

The Houston Texans might be on the clock, but more than a few eyes are on the Saints.

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