Brian Allee-Walsh

Saints need to think about their future at QB in the NFL Draft. But then there's the defense.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scrambles past Kentucky defensive tackle Kordell Looney during the Taxslayer Bowl.
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scrambles past Kentucky defensive tackle Kordell Looney during the Taxslayer Bowl. AP

Finally, mercifully, the 83rd annual NFL Draft has arrived, meaning now we can stop making a mock-ery of it all and allow the real "experts'' to make April fools of us all.

With the 27th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select ...

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Or South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert.

Or South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst.

Or Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard.

Or Alabama outside linebacker Rashaan Evans.

Or, Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn.

Or ... or ... or.

Or Trader Mick (Saints GM Mickey Loomis with coach Sean Payton's blessing, of course) makes a calculated move upward or downward and pulls a rabbit out of his hat, as he did to steal running back Alvin Kamara in the third round a year ago.

Or your guess is as good as mine.

It's one thing to select first in the annual college crapshoot, as the Cleveland Browns are scheduled to do at 7 p.m.-ish (Fox, ESPN, NFLN) Thursday from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

It's quite another to pick 27th in the pecking order after the first 26 dominoes fall.

Two things I know:

One, Saints quarterback Drew Brees is north of 39 and growing older by the day, and they need to seriously start planning for life after No. 9. Maybe special teams star and former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is that guy, and maybe he isn't. Backup Tom Savage is a stop-gap measure; nothing more, nothing less.

And two, they need more players to attack opposing quarterbacks, to provide push from the opposite side and complement Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan (see Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard, to give defensive coordinator another pass-rushing option off the edge).

Yes, good arguments can be made to take a tight end with the first pick, even though they brought back Mr. Reliable, Benjamin Watson, in free agency. Or a true guard to back up starters Larry Warford and Andrus Peat. Or a game-changing wide receiver to add to Brees' arsenal.

Or ... or ... or.

I will leave you with this: Two games last season come to mind, and each ended miserably for the Black and Gold primarily because they couldn't stop the other team in the waning seconds — at Tampa Bay in the regular season finale and at Minnesota in the division playoffs.

Each time, the Saints failed to make a defensive play to preserve what looked like a certain victory and ended up losing, 31-24 against the Buccaneers and 29-24 against the Vikings in the "Minneapolis Miracle.'' It begins up front on defense.

Always has, always will.

Drew Brees can't tackle the quarterback.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.
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