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New Orleans Saints' draft needs: Davante Adams to add depth?


Roster weaknesses: Every team has them, and the draft is often the best way to address them. With the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah will be taking an up-close look at the main areas of weakness -- and the prospects who could fix them -- for all 32 squads in the league. Be sure to catch "Path to the Draft" on NFL Network at 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more in-depth analysis.

Perennial Pro Bowl player Drew Brees is 35 years old and entering his 14th season. The quarterback is not exactly at the end of the line, but the New Orleans Saints should be feeling a sense of urgency to capture another Lombardi Trophy while they still have Brees steering the ship.

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That said, the Saints are in relatively good shape from a talent perspective, with the team moving aggressively to bring in free-agent safety Jairus Byrd (though they do have one major item left on their offseason to-do list: figuring out star tight end Jimmy Graham's contract situation). So this draft -- New Orleans holds the 27th overall pick -- will probably be, for the most part, about building depth and finding pieces for the future.

Here are four positions of need for New Orleans -- and some prospects who could fill them.

1) Center

There is one place where the Saints could use a quick injection of talent: Brian De La Puente, the Saints' starting center since 2011, signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason, leaving a void on New Orleans' offensive line. I don't think the Saints will try to fill it in the first round, but I do see two immediate starters who could be had later in the draft: Marcus Martin of USC and Weston Richburg of Colorado State.

Martin (6-foot-3, 320 pounds) has a bit more size and power than Richburg (6-3, 298), while Richburg is more athletic in pass protection and better at adjusting at the second level in the run game. Both would fit New Orleans' system.

2) Outside linebacker

Junior Galette, who is coming off a monster 12-sack season, will hold down one of the outside linebacker spots, but there are questions at the other, where 30-year-old veteran Parys Haralson -- who was traded to New Orleans from San Francisco after missing all of 2012 with a triceps tear, and whose 2013 campaign ended with his placement on injured reserve -- is slotted in. Thus, adding another pass rusher to coordinator Rob Ryan's defense would make sense.

One first-round option might be Boise State product Demarcus Lawrence, who is generating a lot of buzz around the NFL. Lawrence has very strong hands and a big motor; he's a pass rusher who is also athletic enough to drop into coverage if needed. If the Saints want to wait until the second round, they could consider Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu, who lacks strength but has a quick first step and bends well around the edge.

3) Cornerback

The Saints signed 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey in the offseason, but the veteran cornerback is 35 years old and clearly no longer the player he once was. New Orleans should be on the hunt for depth and speed at this position.

Heading into the NFL Scouting CombinePhillip Gaines (Rice) was viewed as a third-round pick, but the impressive numbers he posted in Indy have his stock on the rise. One late-round prospect to keep an eye on is Baylor's Demetri Goodson, a former Gonzaga basketball player who is very raw but has the kind of explosiveness and ball skills to develop into a starting cornerback down the line.

4) Wide receiver

This is not an especially pressing need, given the presence of veteran Marques Colston and promising youngster Kenny Stills. Of course, coach Sean Payton is always on the lookout for more weapons to give Brees. If USC's Marqise Lee were to slide in the first round, it might be tough for New Orleans to pass on the chance to bolster their talented nucleus of pass-catchers.

In the second round, the Saints could add a player like Davante Adams of Fresno State. Adams is an outstanding red-zone target who can high-point the ball and stretch the field vertically on the outside.

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So what will the Saints do with their first-round pick (No. 27 overall)? Here's what NFL Media's analysts see happening, according to their mock draft projections (click here for full mock drafts):

Daniel Jeremiah: Marqise Lee
Bucky Brooks: Brandin Cooks
Charles Davis: Louis Nix
Matt Smith: Dee Ford
Chase Goodbread: Dee Ford

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.



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