Payton doesn't regret trading pick for DE Davenport

The New Orleans Saints don't have a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, which kicks off three weeks from tonight on NFL Network. Sean Payton is cool with that fact.

The Saints shipped last year's first-round pick, a fifth-rounder (147th overall) and their 2019 first-round pick (which became the 30th selection) to Green Bay in exchange for the 14th selection to snag pass rusher Marcus Davenport.

A year later, Payton is still happy with the trade.

"We like it," Payton said last week, via Mike Triplett of ESPN. "When he played last year, we feel like we saw some real good traits, to where we feel like this guy is gonna be a dominant player for us.

"He played exceptionally well at Minnesota and exceptionally well in two or three other games for us. His toe slowed him down."

Davenport missed three games in the middle of the season due to a turf toe injury just as he was making strides. The rookie got hurt in that Minnesota game Payton referenced while racking up two sacks, his best tilt of the season.

In 15 games, including playoffs, Davenport compiled 26 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

The athletic 6-foot-6 edge rusher out of Texas-San Antonio displayed flashes of dominant traits that enticed the Saints to trade this year's first-round pick to snag him. Davenport combines elite athleticism with a quick step off the edge. For stretches last season, the rookie disrupted the quarterback at a stellar rate, coming within a fingernail from a sack. If those pressures turn into QB takedowns, his stats will skyrocket in Year 2.

Payton insisted if you "do the math on the trade right now" the Saints got a good deal in landing Davenport.

"That's the challenge when you try to grade that trade [a year ago]," Payton said. "Hypothetically, if we finished with four wins this year, that's not a good trade because [of] the value. But 27 and 30, on any number chart I don't think you're gonna arrive at 14."

If you use points from the famous Jimmy Johnson draft Trade Value chart, the Saints gave up 680 points for the 27th pick last year, 620 for the 30th pick this year, and 32.2 points for the 147th pick in 2018 for a 1,332.2 total. The No. 14 pick is worth 1,100 points per Johnson's chart. So, using this semi-outdated model the Saints might have overpaid slightly, but it's negligible enough for Payton to declare the win with a clear conscious.

It's certain that the Saints wouldn't land a player with Davenport's athletic gift at the No. 30 pick this year. Per Payton's own admission, results matter most when assessing the trade, and the scale is ever-shifting. If New Orleans misses the playoffs in 2019 and Davenport catches an injury bug, perhaps he'd re-evaluate the trade differently in another year.

If the 22-year-old, who underwent offseason surgery, can remain healthy, he could be a huge difference maker on a team with Super Bowl aspirations. If Davenport becomes a consistent force opposite Cameron Jordan, the Saints' defense will double-down on their impressive 2018 campaign.

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