There's silly rumor going around. It may be rooted in truth, but it has certainly been exaggerated in the wake of the Saints deciding to draft a wide receiver in Round 2. That rumor is that Drew Brees can continue to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league while surrounded by subpar playmakers. I blame the success of players like Marques Colston, Lance Moore, and Willie Snead for the spreading of that rumor and making it seem like an actual reality. Do I think that Drew Brees makes his receivers better with his accuracy and ability to throw them open? Yes. Do I think the Saints offense would run smoothly while depending solely on the three rostered wide receivers they had before yesterday? No, I do not. Brandin Cooks made huge steps in his progression last year, but he's still a player whose stature hinders him from winning 50/50 balls and leaves him better suited as a #2. Willie Snead was a pleasant surprise that undoubtedly fills a role, but that role is a complimentary piece to the offense, not a focal point of it. Last but not least you have Brandan Coleman. As someone that has watched him since the start of his college career I can comfortably say that Brandon Coleman will always be a better player in theory than in practice. Want a reality check on the state of the Saints receiving core before yesterday? They worked out Robert Meachem - yes, that Robert Meachem - earlier this week.
While we are on the subject of Robert Meachem, the only thing that he and Michael Thomas have in common in that they were high picks that happened to be drafted to the same city at the same position. Meachem was added as a luxury to an already superior offense, but Michael Thomas fills a need on one that struggled mightily at times last season. Forget that the Saints had a top 5 offense last year. That ranking was aided greatly by garbage time yards that came while playing catch-up to the hundreds of points that Brandon Browner and company spotted any and all opposition. The fact is that there was many a time where a lack of talent on the outside had Drew playing from his backside, and the addition of Michael Thomas immediately addresses that problem.
People far more knowledgeable than I had him ranked a first round talent. Many more people far more knowledgable than I had him listed as the most technically sound pass catcher in the entire draft. Michael Thomas is a long receiver with dependable hands that runs precise routes and has the ability to create after the catch. He's not going to wow you with his speed, but he plays faster than his 40 time and he's shown the ability to go up and make plays while covered. Essentially he brings a skill set that the Saints haven't had since Marques Colston was in his prime. Bottom line? He's instantly fills a glaring hole on this roster. Is it a hole that could have been filled later in the draft? Possibly, but to act like this acquisition was nothing more than Sean Payton adding another toy to a flawless offensive arsenal couldn't be further from the truth.
The funny thing about the 'best player available' philosophy is that fans always love the idea of it...until it returns a player that doesn't play the position that they - from their couch - feel is the team's biggest need. I'm not saying I am not worried about the Saints lack of talent at the guard position, but after grabbing a first round caliber ballhawk in the late second round I am much less worried about their secondary. To act like Vonn Bell wasn't a necessary addition to a team that gave up a record setting amount of touchdowns last year is ignorance at it's finest. I truly believe that Kenny Vaccaro can be the player he was his rookie season, but to this point he's been as consistent as my hungover bowel movements. With what I have seen on the field so far there is no amount of old Bills highlights can convince me that Jarius Byrd is any more dependable than a meth addict baby sitter. It was so easy to convert on third down against the Saints last year that I am pretty sure teams just winged it on the first two downs. They were about as adept at creating turnovers as Eli Apple if given a pie crust and bushel of his namesake. Von Bell brings instincts, range, and - buckle your seat belts - dependable hands to a last line of defense that couldn't catch a cold standing naked in a wind tunnel. Just because he isn't going to be protecting Drew Brees from 300 pound defensive lineman doesn't mean he (along with Sheldon Rankins and Michael Thomas) doesn't provide an immediate upgrade to this team.
Yes, part of me is concerned that they haven't done enough to address the offensive line (that part of me just cringed as they just picked up another defensive lineman in the 4th round), but I don't think you can be upset when your top three draft picks will likely get significant playing time at positions that could surely use significant help. Obviously the draft is always a gamble, but I think the Saints played their cards right on this one. Nothing more you can do now then wait until September and let the chips fall where they may.