Mel Kiper Jr. gives Saints a C-plus

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. handed out his grades for the 2014 draft Insider. He gave the New Orleans Saints a barely above average mark of C-plus (tied for 24th in the NFL).

I don’t necessarily agree with the mark. I thought the Saints nailed their first two picks with receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, so I tend to want to give them a B-plus or A-minus based on those picks alone.

But I also wasn’t surprised to see the Saints’ lower grade from Kiper and other outlets for some predictable reasons.

For one thing, the Saints didn’t really land any “steals” based on where their choices were rated by draft analysts like Kiper heading into the draft -- unless you want to count undrafted receiver Brandon Coleman, who agreed to a deal after the draft. And the Saints had to trade up to get Cooks (they probably would’ve gotten a higher grade if he fell to them at No. 27).

Plus, Kiper in particular wasn’t as high on Jean-Baptiste as some others who might have considered him a steal with the 58th pick.

For another thing, the Saints only made six picks total – and only two in the first two rounds. So clearly, analysts are going to be more impressed by teams that loaded up on top-100 prospects. That’s why the Saints were rated among teams like Seattle, Denver, Carolina, New England and Washington (no first-round pick this year) in the C-plus and C range.

I do, however, agree with Kiper’s final synopsis: “Cooks is a win, and it's a lot of ‘We'll see’ after that.”

No, this class won’t have the same impact in New Orleans as their rebuilding class of 2006, for example. But I thought it was a good haul for the Saints nonetheless. And as I wrote Saturday, I think they addressed five of their top six needs.