The Saints traded their first-round pick this year (No. 27), a fifth-rounder (No. 147) and their first-round pick in 2019 to the Green Bay Packers to land Davenport, a former Texas-San Antonio star who figures to bolster New Orleans' pass rush.
The Saints have a long history of moving up in the first round to draft a player they covet. This marks the sixth time they've done it in general manager Mickey Loomis' tenure, dating to 2003.
Although the cost of two first-round picks might seem like a fortune on the surface, coach Sean Payton pointed out that the Saints hope both of the picks wind up coming late in the round, which made the value perfectly fair on their chart.
"This was one that was easy," said Payton, who made no apologies about New Orleans' aggressive trading history in the draft. "Look, these were the same questions last year when we moved our second-round pick for Alvin Kamara. And that appeared to be 'ahhh' a lot. And yet, shoot, what's our country's national debt? I mean, hopefully we're [just] talking about a late first-round pick next year."
It was clear an edge rusher was a big need for the Saints -- Payton called it a "must" in each of the past two years. And he said Davenport was a player they had coveted throughout the process, dating to his impressive Senior Bowl week. Davenport was the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year with 8.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and four pass break-ups. He had 22, six and eight in his four-year college career.
Although Payton said it was fair to label Davenport as more of a raw, developmental prospect than most rookies in this year's draft class, he said the 6-foot-6, 264-pounder fits the size/speed "prototype" for the position. He ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.58 seconds at the scouting combine, and Payton also praised his intelligence and "tremendous makeup."
First-year Packers GM Brian Gutekunst wasn't done trading after the deal with the Saints. He went from 14 back to 27 and up to 18 -- where he took Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander after a trade with the Seahawks.
Gutekunst said he did not have the deal in place with Seattle GM John Schneider, a former colleague in Green Bay, when he moved back from No. 14. But he was intent on moving up.
"I felt confident we could," Gutekunst said. "But you know that's one of those things you can't predict it. But I felt confident we could. There was nothing set at that time."
The net result of the two trades was the Packers moved back four spots to take Alexander and came away with a second first-round pick in 2019 (from the Saints), plus picks this year in the fifth (from the Saints) and seventh (from the Seahawks) while giving up a third and a sixth this year (both to the Seahawks).