Game On….with Rob Kriete
July 8

“To be, or not to be? That is the question” most professional sports leagues are wrangling with even though William Shakespeare never enjoyed that which we are all missing tremendously.  Nonetheless, until professional sports return, we are left to look at sports teams “on paper,” as the expression goes.

The Saints of New Orleans are seemingly the NFC South’s class, on paper, and just completed another uniquely rewarding 2020 NFL draft.  General Manager, Mickey Loomis, and coach Sean Payton, are annually aggressive in their pursuit of their preferred players, and 2020 was no different.  The Saints only drafted four players this year as they traded their other picks to move up to get the guys they like.  This unique strategy contradicts most teams’ formula of drafting the best player available for their teams’ positions of need.

With Hall-of-Fame bound quarterback, Drew Brees, leading the team, New Orleans has been a perennial contender, and their draft class will help them this season.  With the 24th pick in the first round, Loomis chose Cesar Ruiz out of Michigan, who never gave up a sack in college!  Protecting Brees and creating lanes for Alvin Kamara will be the duties that Ruiz will be expected to do immediately at some starting spot on the Saints offensive line.

The Saints solidified their defense with the selection of Zack Baun, a linebacker from Wisconsin.  Baun is one of the “tweener” linebackers and the type that I love.  The hard-hitting and quick, but perhaps somewhat undersized, linebackers are reminiscent of Derrick Brooks from Tampa Bay Bucs lore.  Many pundits believe that Baun was a steal at the 74thpick, and I agree.  He will have an immediate impact on what was a mediocre defense last season.

To help Brees in his possible last season, the Saints chose Adam Trautman in the 3rd round with the 103rd pick, a big tight-end out of Dayton.  Trautman is a versatile tight end who can lay blocks for the running game while rolling out for passes.  Brees has not had a tight end with such abilities since he worked so creatively with Jimmy Graham, with all due respect to Ben Watson and Jared Cook.  Trautman has the chance to be an impact player very soon for New Orleans.

With the last pick they had in the 2020 draft, the Saints did something extraordinary.  They chose a quarterback, Tommy Stevens, out of Mississippi State with the 240th pick.  Keep an eye on this pick as Stevens does not project to quarterback much for New Orleans.  Jameis Winston seems to be the heir apparent once Brees hangs it up, at least for now.  Stevens is going to be looked at to provide depth at WR, TE, and even RB.  There have not been many utility players in the NFL, but Stevens has a chance to be one, so he is worth keeping an eye on.  I find these types of players exciting and compelling to root for as a sports fan.

I look forward to finally getting our Game On, but I appreciate using our sports “microscopes” to see what these players, teams, and leagues look like “on paper.”  Sure, even though you are not reading this on paper, I’m sure you have sent a “carbon-copy” (CC) of an email that had nothing to do with carbon.  If you know and have used an actual carbon-copy, you are most likely a seasoned sports fan like myself.  Thanks for reading and be safe.