There’s a sense of urgency surrounding the New Orleans Saints first-round selection in the 2021 NFL draft. It’s not difficult to identify the roster holes this year’s class needs to address; the ultimate decision at No. 28 is not so simple. While New Orleans must prioritize positional need, selecting the best player available for the Saints incurs a necessary balancing act. Particularly with opt-outs and COVID-19 restrictions hindering scouting efforts, the team can only concede so far before a need-based pick becomes a reach.
That said, positional need will be a critical factor in molding how the Saints build their draft board. Those top needs rank as follows: cornerback, linebacker, defensive line, and wide receiver. There are depth and longevity concerns at both edge rusher and defensive tackle, so this would pop up in a “best player available” scenario. How players rank within each position group is a paramount factor. Let’s take a look at the three best prospects to watch at the Saints top positional needs, with who is expected to be available at their current slot near the end of the first round.