The strength of the 2023 NFL draft lies in a broad second tier of talent, with many of the players chosen in Round 2 graded very closely with those who made the cut into Round 1. That’s something the New Orleans Saints may try to take advantage of by exploring a trade up as well as a potential trade down, but there’s also some wisdom in standing still.
Let’s break down each approach:
This has been the most common move for the Saints on draft day, as they often fall in love with a prospect and move mountains (and sacrifice future picks) to go get their guy. It could happen again with highly-rated rookies like cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State), safety Brian Branch (Alabama), quarterback Will Levis (Kentucky), and tight end Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) falling out of the first round.
It just gets to be expensive. The good news is that the Saints have plenty of picks to work with this year and down the road, with multiple compensatory selections projected for them in 2024. They might get reckless.
This was the move in Thursday night’s first round, though not for lack of trying. The Saints let the board come to them and wound up with a player they valued highly falling to them in Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee. Maybe that happens again on Friday night in the second round. The Saints have the ninth pick in Round 2 (at No. 40 overall) and it’s very likely that a player they regard highly will be there once they’re on the clock, and they won’t have to trade anything to go get them.
There’s real value in moving down and getting more picks, but it has to make sense given the players available. If the Saints believe their top-rated prospects will still be on the board if they move down, then yeah, take the plunge and get more swings at the plate later on. The problem is that general manager Mickey Loomis views this approach as settling for less, or giving up on better players. It’s why he hasn’t traded down since 2007. But that trend has to end sooner or later.