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Grading the New Orleans Saints 2019 rookie draft class



The New Orleans Saints ended up making five selections in the 2019 NFL Draft, landing some upgrades early on and some developmental prospects who hope to impress later on.

McCoy is an instant-impact player who should start the Week 1, helping the Saints into a seamless transition from Max Unger. McCoy may even be an improvement; he does not have the collection of lower-body injuries that forced him to an early retirement limited his play, and could introduce some new schematic wrinkles with his athleticism. There will be some growing pains as with any rookie in the starting lineup, but the vision for how McCoy fits the offense and what he can do is excellent. Grade: A

This pick initially field skeptical; did the Saints really need another safety? But after reviewing Gardner-Johnson's high level of play for the Gators, this could be a slam dunk pick. He's a legitimate threat to intercept the ball any time he's on the field. And he did not already have the same type of safety the Saints already had ̵

1; Gardner-Johnson specializes in defending the lock, fighting through blocking receivers and tackling with a head full of steam. Think of him more than a corner cornerback, like Patrick Robinson and P.J. Williams. Grade: A

Now, this pick feels a little extraneous. Hampton will be competing for snaps with backups Chris Banjo (an established cornerstone of the special teams units) and J.T. Gray (a reserve that spent much of the last season on the practice squad). He showed some ball skills in his senior year at Rutgers but otherwise was just a guy out there with the defense throughout his career. All need to prove he can be a big-time asset on special teams to make the team. Grade: C

This was an exciting selection. Mack was the top tight in the 2015 recruiting class, but never hit his fight at Notre Dame. There were stores where they were dressed for games but were not allowed to play after quiet weeks of practice. Now he is in New Orleans, playing with the quarterback and for the coach that made Jimmy Graham a legend. It is very likely that Graham was the player Mack looked up back in his high school days. He's very motivated to succeed and has all the physical tools in the world to do so. You just wish it was a little more ready-made for the NFL. Grade: B

Elliss reminds of another super-athletic, highly-productive college linebacker the Saints drafted from a narrower program: Davis Tull, a student from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Tull injured his shoulder year and never recovered, washing out of the NFL for a few years later. Hopefully Elliss has a better career and puts his physical gifts to good use. He has all the athleticism in the world and a wall full of hides behind him. The only question is how well it will be, but the Sun Belt is the largest stage in the Big Sky Conference. Grade: B

The Saints didn´t address their widely-perceived top needs (wide receiver and defensive tackle) in the draft, which may speak to how strongly they feel about their options in-house. Either way, they walk away from this year's draft with at least two immediate contributors and some potential backups they can have confidence in. At first blush, the 2019 draft class looks much stronger than the group the Saints picked in 2018. Grade: B +

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