The New Orleans Saints starting quarterback in 2022 will likely be Jameis Winston. If the 2021 NFL Draft had played out how New Orleans wanted, it would have its successor to Drew Brees with budding confidence in quarterback Mac Jones entering his second NFL season.
It’s no secret that the Saints’ front office has thoroughly scouted many of the top quarterback prospect in each NFL Draft over the past several seasons. Even before Brees retired, New Orleans wanted to find its next face of the franchise.
Taysom Hill never became the quarterback Sean Payton thought he might evolve into. Winston showed promise in 2021 after spending a year being mentored by Payton and Brees, but a torn ACL derailed the Saints’ 2021 season.
- Mac Jones stats (2021): 3,801 passing yards, 22-13 TD-INT, 92.5 QB rating, 67.5% completion rate
Things could have unfolded very differently if the organization had more luck or a higher pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, the Saints tried several times to leap ahead of the New England Patriots in the NFL Draft order for Jones. As he slid down the board, New Orleans thought it might have a shot to move up and get him. Ultimately, they could never meet the asking price and Jones went to the Patriots.
While information on the Saints’ draft plans from a year ago might not seem informative now, it could provide some insight into the 2022 NFL Draft.
Examining the New Orleans Saints trade up and QB plans
The New Orleans Saints trade with the Philadelphia Eagles seemed like an overpay to many evaluators. New Orleans mortgaged its future, trading a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick, to acquire the 16th selection in the upcoming draft.
Related: 2022 New Orleans Saints mock draft
Keep in mind that many believe there will be more premium talent available in the 2023 NFL Draft. There’s also a possibility that the Saints could finish in the bottom 10 of the NFL standing, meaning they’d lose out on a top-10 selection next year.
It’s the type of aggressive approach a front office might use if it wants a quarterback. Holding the 16th and 19th overall picks this year might make New Orleans an attractive trade partner for teams like the New York Giants (7th pick), Seattle Seahawks (9th pick) or New York Jets (10th pick). Keeping second-round picks in the next two seasons also allows the Saints to offer a stronger trade package.
It would also speak to the Saints’ organization being significantly higher on the 2022 quarterback class than NFL evaluators. Everything could work out for the franchise, but all of this is a massive gamble.