NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 7 Needs
1. DE - 3.0
2. LB - 3.0
3. RB - 3.0
4. DT - 2.5
5. S - 2.0
6. WR - 2.0
7. OT - 1.5
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - Despite a relatively down year for Brees, entering the final year of his contract he'll likely have a contract offered to him in the next 12 months that will match or potentially eclipse that given to Peyton Manning this off-season as the league's highest paid player. Chase Daniel is his primary backup, and while they may bring in a veteran journeyman to push him in camp, there isn't any real pressing need to address this spot. NEED: 0.5
Running Back - The futures of Thomas and Bush are in doubt. THomas is a free agent, and while they would probably like to keep him, they probably aren't going to bend over backwards to make him a big contract offer. Bush is entering the last year of his contract, and they do want to keep him as well since he's valuable to their offense, but unlikely at a high price. Ivory had his moments this past year, but he's coming off a foot injury which leaves them without any solid running options beyond this season. NEED: 3.0
Fullback - Evans is a serviceable role player, but as a free agent that is 32, there may not be a pressing desire to bring him back beyond paying him near the veteran minimum. They could go in another direction with a more youthful option. NEED: 1.5
Wide Receiver - Both Colston and Meachem are entering contract years, and their production merits each getting extensions, but the concern with Colston is durability issues. The Saints have already invested a decent amount in Henderson a few off-seasons past, and Moore is also a free agent. It would not surprise if they used a middle round pick to draft some insurance in case both starters aren't locked up long-term. Especially if Moore was to walk. NEED: 2.0
Tight End - Shockey appears to be giving way to young upstart Jimmy Graham, and might get cut this off-season. If that is the case, then it's highly likely that the Saints will retain David Thomas as the No. 2. But it's most likely only one will be back, and Thomas seems like the better bet. They might add another body as the No. 3 guy to be more of a blocker, but it's not a high need. NEED: 1.0
Offensive Tackle - Bushrod's contract is up, and while they'd probably prefer to keep him, with Charles Brown in the wings, they aren't going to bend over backwards with a big contract offer. After a Pro Bowl bid last year, Stinchcomb fell back to earth in part due to a knee injury. Strief is a valuable reserve and will be a priority to keep if Bushrod walks. Otherwise there is going to be some need for depth. NEED: 1.5
Offensive Guard - Nicks is in line for a contract extension just like Evans got a year ago. The Saints would be smart to give it to him, although they may opt to not lock him up long-term and use a draft pick to add depth and insurance here. NEED: 1.0
Center - Goodwin is a free agent, and the presence of Matt Tennant as his backup might allow them to let him walk. He could return at a modest price, and if he walks then free agency is the likeliest place to find a suitable option to compete with Tennant. NEED: 1.5
Defensive Tackle - Ayodele is a nice run defender, but they probably want to find a more disruptive option inside that can rotate with him and potentially replace him as the starter at nose tackle. Ellis is good, but no the dominant interior presence he was expected to be by now. Hargrove is a valuable reserve and one they will want to keep as a free agent. NEED: 2.5
Defensive End - The pass rush was slacking and while Brown is a solid run defender, they need to find someone that can come in on third downs and provide consistent pressure and potentially be a long-term replacement at left end. NEED: 3.0
Linebacker - Both starters on the outside are free agents, and it doesn't seem like the team is going to be go out of hteir way to keep either Clark or Shanle. Mitchell and Dunbar, and the healthy return of Casillas gives them some young options here. But expect them to try and find more in the draft that can solidify one of the spots. NEED: 3.0
Cornerback - Both Greer and Porter weren't as productive this year as they were in 2009. But the continued development of Robinson as the nickel corner doesn't give them a ton of concern here. They might add another young depth option in the draft, but it's not a huge need, particularly if Torrence returns. NEED: 1.0
Safety - Harper's play tailed off towards the end, but even still they will probably bring back the 28 year old free agent. Jenkins was an upgrade in some regards over Sharper and should be a fixture for a long time. Their questions remain about whether Sharper will be back for another year and/or whatever options they have as far as depth goes, which currently looks like very little. NEED: 2.0
Kicker - While Hartley had an infamous miss early vs. Atlanta, he was pretty consistent through the rest of the year and probably will be re-signed. Although they probably would like to add another leg to bring into camp. NEED: 1.0
Punter - Morstead is one of the bright young punters in the league. NEED: 0.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.