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2022 NFL Draft: Meet the new Saints

After filling two major needs in the first round, the team added an impactful defensive piece in round two.

LAS VEGAS — The New Orleans Saints have had a stellar NFL Draft thus far.

With two picks remaining in round 5 and round 6, the team has set itself up to compete once again in 2022.

Night one saw the team fill its two biggest needs, by trading up to draft Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave 11th overall and by using the 19th pick it acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles to select Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning. Both men will be expected to contribute immediately.

Then, in night two, the team used its only pick to focus on the opposite side of the ball, by taking Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor 49th overall.

The team also picked Appalachian Stater linebacker D'Marco Jackson at pick 164 and (blank) at pick 191.

Here's a look at what each new player brings, and what their role on the Saints may look like once the 2022 season rolls around.

Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (1st round, #11 overall)

The Saints initiated the first trade on draft night, jumping five spots to snag Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave 11th overall. 

Olave was viewed as being the most pro-ready of the wide receivers in this class, primarily in part due to his route running intelligence. Perhaps more importantly for the Saints, he adds a level of dynamic play to a receiver room that desperately lacked it in 2021. 

His ability to serve as a deep threat, paired with his excellent route running on short and medium routes means he'll very likely provide the Saints with a two-pronged receiving attack opposite Michael Thomas as soon as he hits the field.

Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa (1st round, #19 overall)

Penning was taken by the Saints 19th overall, and in the minds of some, he fills a bigger role than that of even Olave. 

Losing Terron Armstead in free agency was significant for the Saints, as Armstead anchored the offensive line better than almost all other left tackles for the better part of seven seasons. 

Penning is nasty when he plays, and showed just how athletic he is at the combine.

Penning will probably not start immediately. Given his lower level of competition while playing at Northern Iowa, he is still a bit raw, but the expectation is that he will become the rightful successor to Armstead and inherit his spot in the starting lineup.

Alontae Taylor, DB, Tennessee (2nd round, #49 overall)

This one caught many folks off guard, primarily because cornerback was not viewed as a need for the Saints. One look at Taylor's highlight tape will exhibit why new Saints coach Dennis Allen probably fell in love with him as a prospect. 

Taylor's a player built in a similar mold to that of current Saints defensive backs Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and P.J. Williams; he's capable of being an effective slot cornerback, as well as a safety. It will be fascinating to see how he fits into the Saints roster. 

In 2022, he'll likely be a reserve and a special teamer, but it will be fascinating to see how Allen eventually uses him, whether it be in more of a Gardner-Johnson role as a nickel corner who can blitz when called upon, or more of a P.J. Williams type, relied on to play in the middle of the field as a safety who's primary role is to play in cover one or cover two defensive packages. 

Allen indicated the current plan is to use him more as a cornerback, but he's certainly a defensive back hybrid who can play in multiple spots.

D'Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State (5th round, #161 overall)

Jackson is a raw talent at linebacker but has outstanding speed sideline-to-sideline, similar to Kwon Alexander. He's an effective tackler and and has shown he has terrific flexibility for his position

However, as aforementioned, Jackson is raw. He isn't particularly effective in coverage, nor will he be able to take on blocks against NFL offensive linemen right away. 

Jackson is a project who will contribute on special teams in 2022. It'll be interesting to see where his development goes beyond that.

Jordan Jackson, DT, Air Force (6th round, #194 overall)

Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 294-pounder from Jacksonville, Fla., had 41 tackles with 7.5 sacks in 2021. 

From Mountain West Wire: One of the greatest abilities one can attribute to a player is their ability to raise the level of play of their teammates. Jackson has showed time and again, he makes the players around him better.

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