In the lead-up to training camps, USA TODAY Sports will be breaking down the key questions facing each NFL team. Today, we look at the New Orleans Saints:
Can Marcus Davenport make an immediate impact?
The Saints paid a hefty price to move up in the draft for Davenport -- sending a fifth-round pick and a 2019 first-round pick to Green Bay to jump from No. 27 overall to No. 14. So, naturally, they think the Texas-San Antonio pass-rusher can be a difference-maker. But the question is: How soon?
Last year, New Orleans had the good fortune of drafting the offensive rookie of the year (running back Alvin Kamara) and the defensive rookie of the year (cornerback Marshon Lattimore). If Davenport can make a similar splash in his first year, he could play opposite Cameron Jordan and boost a Saints pass rush that, at times, left something to be desired last season. Beyond Jordan's 13 sacks, only Alex Okafor (4 1/2 sacks) and George Johnson (2 1/2 sacks) had more than two sacks in the regular season.
"I'm not interested in taking any heat off Cam; I'm interested in getting other players like Cam," coach Sean Payton said in a post-draft news conference. "One of the offseason targets was a pressure player. ... We have to feel like he can affect the quarterback."
How much longer can Drew Brees keep it going?
Brees is one of the best quarterbacks of his era and, at least as of last season, has shown few signs of slowing down. Although he threw for the fewest yards (4,334) and touchdowns (23) of his Saints tenure in 2017, he also completed a career-high 72% of his passes and led the team to within a play of the NFC Championship Game. Just before free agency, he signed a two-year, $50 million contract extension.
Despite that, questions about Brees' longevity linger. Success and all, he is a 39-year-old quarterback approaching his 15th season in the NFL. That two-year contract extension is really a one-year deal with a team option for 2019. And the Saints don't have an heir apparent to Brees waiting in the wings. The biggest question on Brees entering this season is whether he looks like someone with one good year left in him -- or three. That will play a major role in shaping how the Saints move forward.
Are there enough pieces in place for a Super Bowl run?
Since its 2009 Super Bowl victory, Payton's team has finished 11-5 or better in four of the past eight seasons (despite a string of three consecutive 7-9 finishes prior to last year) but hasn't reached the NFC title game again. Is this the year New Orleans will make a run? That answer will depend, in large part, on the continued growth of young players including Kamara, Lattimore and wide receiver Michael Thomas, who caught 104 passes for more than 1,200 yards en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance. The team took a hit when Pro Bowl RB Mark Ingram was suspended for four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, but Kamara should be able to pick up the slack.
Follow Tom Schad on Twitter @Tom_Schad.