Last year, the New Orleans Saints could have taken quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round.
They discussed it. Instead, they selected cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who was not very good as a rookie. Four picks later, the New England Patriots took Garoppolo.
The Saints weren’t going to have the same regrets. When Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson, projected by many as this draft’s third-best quarterback, fell to the third round, the Saints pounced. Grayson was their pick at No. 75. Grayson was the third quarterback off the board, long after Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went with the top two picks.
Of course, it’s a bit of a bittersweet pick. This is an indication that the Saints are at least considering life after Drew Brees, as hard as that must be. It’s the highest the Saints have selected a quarterback since Archie Manning in 1971. No free agent in NFL history has meant more to a franchise than Brees, a future Hall of Famer who brought a Super Bowl to New Orleans. But Brees just turned 36. He was the subject of draft rumors this offseason, whatever that means. The Saints would probably be thrilled if Brees played into his 40s at a high level. But now they’re protected if he doesn’t.
Grayson is an interesting prospect. He is a good athlete with legitimate skills to be an NFL quarterback. He has two things in his favor landing in New Orleans: He won’t be rushed into the staring lineup, and he will be coached by offensive mastermind Sean Payton. That helps.
If he does take over for Brees, it will be extremely difficult replacing a player who is synonymous with that franchise and a legend there on and off the field. In a perfect world, the Saints won’t have to worry about that for many years. But they weren’t going to second guess themselves again for passing on another quarterback.
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