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2018 NFL Draft

Can the Saints Wait and Get Their “Next QB” to Replace Drew Brees in Round 3?

If you consider yourself to be a "die-hard" fan of the New Orleans Saints, then you're likely well aware that the "hottest name" at the moment centered around the team's intentions with their 27th overall pick in the Draft later this month, is University of Louisville QB Lamar Jackson.

Jackson, a prolific runner as well as he is a passer, has been compared to former NFL QB's Randall Cunningham and Micheal Vick; and the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner has been Linked to the Saints as their potential first pick at that spot, assuming of course that he would still be there.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The Lamar Jackson-to-the-Saints "hype train" then went into overdrive earlier this past week, when Saints head coach Sean Payton while at the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando, said this to reporters when asked about Jackson:

“I like him. I like him. He’s athletic. He’s got a magic smile to him. He’s a leader,” Payton said. “With Lamar, you feel it in the room, and you can tell he can lead. He’s a special guy. You just have to be around him, interview him, and you can see why he was successful.”

Now it would be easy to assume based on Payton's comments, that the team is indeed enamored with the idea of bringing Jackson to NOLA to potentially become the "heir apparent" to the starting QB position, once future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees retires in a couple of more years from now.

And you definitely could make that assumption based on the fact that both Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi were in attendance and watched Jackson perform live at his Pro Day last week.

However as New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill cautioned yesterday with regard to the "hype" surrounding the Saints and a potential pick of Jackson:

Payton probably does "like" Jackson and he might even be a target at #27, but some praise doesn’t assure anything. Underhill points out that the Saints coach was asked about one player. He wasn’t asked who his favorite quarterback in the class is, and all that he really did was drop an unprompted comment about Jackson.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

In other words: there is a big difference between saying it and actually GOING THROUGH WITH IT, so as Underhill then warns Saints fans:

You might want to wait a few more weeks before you start ordering your No. 8 jersey with "Jackson" sewn on the back of it.

Underhill says that either way, New Orleans is eventually going to draft Brees’ successor; and that maybe it could end up being Jackson but then again: maybe it doesn’t.

But he adds: the bigger point is that Payton's comments are being treated as a tell-tale sign of what the Saints intend to do on the Opening Night (April 26th) of the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft — when the actual truth is that it does not appear to be the case.

As of this very moment, no one knows how the Draft process will play out; and there's just as good of a chance that either Jackson will already be taken by the time New Orleans is on the clock, or they'll just decide to take a player at an entirely different position altogether

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of whether or not Jackson is still on the Board once the Saints' turn to pick comes up, it doesn't mean that they absolutely have to take him just because he's a QB (although they'd be insane to pass him up) and also because they are obviously in the market for one.

As we noted here at Saints News Network last week: there are a handful of underrated prospects or "sleepers" at the QB position, that the Saints could choose from (click HERE to read).

And this past Thursday, it appears that well-respected scout and NFL Draft Analyst Joe Marino of NDT Scouting.com and FanRagSports, is aware of that fact as well.

In his article "6 Things I want to see happen in the 2018 Draft", Marino says that one of the things that he is hoping to see happen is University of Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta getting selected by the Saints.

Photo courtesy of University of Richmond Athletics

Here's what Marino had to say specifically: 

Graphic courtesy of NDTScouting.com

Presumably, the Saints would probably have a good shot at grabbing Lauletta with their #91 overall selection in Round 3, so long as Lauletta doesn't get taken by another team before then — which given his rapid rise up many Draft Boards, could very well happen.

Considered by many as this QB class's biggest "sleeper" of them all, the 6-foot-3-inch, 213-pound Lauletta was a three-year starter at Richmond (an FCS program located in Virginia) and threw for 10,357 yards and 71 touchdowns for the Spiders during his sensational 4-year career.

Lauletta has been compared to 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (he has a similar "small school" background, comparable size and almost an identical quick release), and markedly raised his stock even further when he threw 3 second-half TD passes to lead the South team to victory in the Senior Bowl a couple of months ago. 

With an athletic build, a "Big League" arm, a quick release and pin-point precision accuracy that improved every day in Mobile, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller says that there is a lot of intrigue slowly building in the past few weeks about Lauletta as a developmental prospect late on Day 2 (April 27th) of the draft in Dallas, later this month.

Originally projected as a Day 3 pick (Rounds 4 thru 7), Lauletta's rise should put him into the late 3rd Round range, where New Orleans will be picking with the 91st overall selection.

It's also a possibility that Lauletta hangs around a bit longer and doesn't get taken until Round 4; where the Saints will be picking at #123 overall.

But either way: if there was ever a time for the Saints to get a draft-day "steal", Lauletta could provide them with that opportunity.

Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images

For now however, Saints fans can continue arguing among themselves over the merits of taking Lamar Jackson at #27, over every other position that they've said is a "must" or a team "need".

Or....

They can simply take the BPA ("best player available") at that spot, and wait until the mid rounds to target Lauletta.

Make no mistake about it: if somehow Lamar Jackson manages to fall into their laps at #27, the Saints shouldn't hesitate whatsoever to get a player who some say is the "next Randall Cunningham or Michael Vick".

But if they decide to go a different route as they have many times in the past, then Lauletta's name is one to keep in mind when the Saints are on the clock during Day 2, of the 2018 NFL Draft.........

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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