The New Orleans Saints 2022 draft class was hit hard by injuries, making it challenging to assess their full potential. Still, the team found some success with Olave, Taylor, and Shaheed, earning them a decent grades. The true test will be how the rookies perform in 2023 with a year of experience under their belts, especially Penning, who has yet to prove his worth as a first-round pick.
2022 Draft Class Review
New Orleans’ 2022 draft picks got mixed results. A significant number of their rookies missed considerable amounts of the season due to injuries, which leaves a lot of unknowns going into 2023. However, there are some positive takeaways from the draft class.
As per Nick Shook of the NFL, the Saints did a good job of selecting Chris Olave, who he believes deserved more attention in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. The team also received solid contributions from Alontae Taylor and Rashid Shaheed.
Unfortunately, late-round picks D’Marco Jackson and Jordan Jackson didn’t get any snaps due to injury and underwhelming practice reps, respectively. However, a lot hinges on the Saints’ other first-rounder, Trevor Penning, who was hampered by injuries throughout his rookie year.
Despite the setbacks which lead them to earn a B-minus grade., Penning played a sixth-lineman role and made a start in the final game of the season. But, as Shook pointed out, Penning needs more time on an NFL gridiron for a proper evaluation.
Still a Work in Progress
Louisiana online sportsbooks listed the Saints as the favorites to be the NFC South winner, yet, their 2022 rookies aren’t utilized completely. The Saints’ 2022 draft class is still very much a work in progress, and a lot will depend on how Penning performs in his sophomore season. The team has high expectations for him, and if he can stay healthy and showcase his potential, he can help lift the team’s draft grade significantly.
However, that is a big “if” given his injury history. Foot injuries kept Penning out of NFL action for a significant portion of his rookie season, which prevented him from getting the playing time and experience he needs to develop. He will have a lot to prove in 2023, and his performance will be critical in determining the success of the Saints’ 2022 draft class.
One aspect of Shook’s analysis that’s worth noting is his attention to undrafted free agents. The Saints have historically done well in this area, and that trend continued in 2022. Lewis Kidd is a competent backup along the offensive line, but the real standout is Rashid Shaheed, who proved to be a versatile threat on special teams, racking up over 1,000 all-purpose yards as a receiver, runner, and returner.
Other NFC South Teams Update
Looking around the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons received a similar grade to the Saints with a B-minus, suggesting that the division as a whole had a middling draft year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers received a C-plus, which is expected as Tom Brady is just lifting the team most of the time. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers received the lowest grade in the division with a C-minus, indicating that they have some work to do to catch up with the rest of the NFC South.
As of today, here are the updated BetMGM Louisiana odds for NFC South teams:
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