The New Orleans Saints had nine selections in the 2015 NFL draft. Here’s a closer look at how their picks have contributed:
2015 draft class:
On the cusp: Of the guys who haven’t already become full-time starters, Peat and Swann have the best chance to vault into bigger roles by next season. Peat went through some growing pains in training camp, but the Saints had time to be patient with him since they have two established vets at offensive tackle. They envision Peat as a longtime NFL starter, and his brief experience as an injury replacement this year should help his development. Swann, meanwhile, was playing well as the Saints’ nickel cornerback before he suffered two concussions. Swann has good size and versatility to play corner and safety.
Undrafted free agents they like: The Saints liked Richardson enough to promote him to the starting lineup and trade away veteran Akiem Hicks. Richardson is an athletic lineman who can play end and tackle. He officially has 21 tackles and 0.5 sacks, though he had a sack-fumble against the New York Giants taken away by a questionable penalty in the secondary. Richardson is one of four undrafted defensive linemen on the Saints’ roster, but he’s the only one who plays extensively. Receiver Willie Snead and cornerback Delvin Breaux don’t count in this category since Snead was on the practice squad last year and Breaux came from the Canadian Football League. But they are two first-year players making huge impacts.
My take on class: Like the rest of the Saints’ team, they’ve been a bit up and down. But the future is looking very bright for this class after New Orleans made it a priority to stock up on picks and start to replenish for the future. Kikaha has been the best so far with four sacks and three forced fumbles -- and his value became even more apparent when he barely played over the past two weeks because of an ankle injury. Kikaha, Anthony and Peat could all become standout long-term starters. Richardson, Davison and Swann should stick as starters or rotational players. Murphy has been great value for Round 7, though he has had both a punt return TD and some fumbling troubles. And three more guys are basically redshirting this year (Grayson as a developmental QB and Williams and Tull on injured reserve).
Mel Kiper's take on class: This is a mixed bag. On one hand, the defense has been a mess. On the other, they are giving a crash course to rookies, and it's almost inevitable that the struggles are here. Anthony has been what you would hope for; Kikaha was impressive when healthy, and Richardson, even if he's merely a rotation guy, is a steal. If the defense gets better, it could be rookie-aided. If there's an injury, we'll also get to take the wrapper off Peat.