More than three months have passed since the New Orleans Saints lost in the most heart-breaking fashion to the Minnesota Vikings Jan. 14, ending the team’s playoff run and leaving fans just waiting for next year.
But the team hasn’t been idle. The Black and Gold leadership has been hard at work wooing free agents to come to the Big Easy and doing their best to sign some new players – particularly on defense.
And last weekend, during the NFL draft, the Saints tried to continue their progress toward improving a team that was already really good a year ago.
The first round of the draft figured to be uneventful for Saints fans as their team wasn’t scheduled to pick until 27th. But in a surprise move, the Saints traded a set of picks to move up to 14th in the first round. They used the higher pick to select defensive end Marcus Davenport from the University of Texas-San Antonio.
Some observers have questioned the wisdom of the Saints’ move, giving up so much for a player from a small program like UTSA.
But if the Saints have done anything in recent years, they have given the fans faith that their talent evaluation is among the best in the NFL. Just last year, the Saints drafted the eventual offensive and defensive rookies of the year – an impressive achievement. But they have drafted numerous players in the past two years who have made significant contributions to a team that seems to be on the rise.
One place where the Saints were still lacking was in the area of rushing opposing passers, a need they and their fans hope was filled with Davenport’s selection.
So many unpredictable factors go into whether the team will find more success next year. But one thing is for sure: The fans are solidly behind the Saints and eager to see a new season begin.
Unfortunately, that won’t happen for several months. Before then, the team will have to whittle down a roster full of young talent and end up with the players who give it the best chance at success.
Meanwhile, fans will pick favorites they hope will make the team and follow the process that will play out between now and training camp just before the season begins.
Waiting for the new year is a different experience now than it was for years, when fans hoped for the best but dreaded the worst. Now, with head coach Sean Payton and superstar quarterback Drew Brees leading an increasingly talented cast, the new season holds all the promise of another trip to the playoffs and, with some luck and great play, maybe even a return trip to the Super Bowl.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.