As the New Orleans Saints look to wrap up perhaps the greatest regular season in franchise history, every time I watch the Kansas City Chiefs offense play I still have a question pop in my head; what would the Saints and NFL be like if they had drafted Patrick Mahomes Jr in 2017?
This isn’t some wild hypothetical, the Saints admitted they were ready and expected to take Mahomes at #11 in 2017 until Kansas City traded in front of them and grabbed Mahomes instead. But what if the Chiefs hadn’t?
What if Buffalo just told the Chiefs, “No thanks Kansas City on the trade offer, we are taking Marshon Lattimore instead.” Which, by the way, would have been a completely defensible position at the time as Lattimore was a top 5 rated player on most draft boards.
The Saints then would have taken Mahomes with the 11th pick and what happens then?
Let’s keep the rest of the Saints 2017 draft as is. It would still be amazing but would the 2017 defense have been as good without Lattimore? Zero chance. So even with Alvin Kamara and Ryan Ramcyzk helping to make the offense fun and amazing would the Saints have gone 11-5 or remained in 7-9 purgatory they were in from 2014-16? If they remained 7-9 would Drew Brees had wanted to stay? Would the Saints had wanted him to knowing Mahomes was waiting in the wings?
If Drew Brees had left would he have gone to Minnesota or Kansas City? Would Jacksonville have chased Brees as the final piece to a Super Bowl puzzle?
Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis clearly had no fear of losing their jobs if the Saints didn’t win in 2017 if they were ready to draft Mahomes. Front offices under pressure to win now that have a Hall of Fame quarterback don’t use a first round pick on a signal caller when they have other more pressing needs.
The Saints without Lattimore would still have had a gapping hole at cornerback, so what do they do to try and rectify that? Would they have done a similar deal they did to acquire Marcus Davenport in 2018 but instead acquired another Ohio State cornerback in Denzel Ward? How would the fan base reacted to 4 straight 7-9 years AND Drew Brees leaving? Would 2018 have been make or break for Loomis/Payton?
My sense is the 2018 Saints would be very good with Mahomes at quarterback because the Saints roster is loaded and Sean Payton’s offensive mind + Mahomes would have been fun as all get out.
This column could be 5000 words exploring all the what ifs. The unique thing is the Saints are the rare case of a team missing out on drafting a generational type quarterback talent and being perfectly happy with how things turned out.
Saints Fan Mood and Meditation Music: Scenario – A Tribe Called Quest
The scenario is simple of course, Saints win one more game and they play in New Orleans until they take a flight to Atlanta in February for the Super Bowl. Are you a little worried about the offense? Let the wise words from A Tribe Called Quest relax you..
“Watch me wreck it from the jump street, meaning from the get-go
Sit back relax and let yourself go
Don't sweat what you heard, but act like you know”
Everything is fine.
Last Week: 4-1
Pittsburgh (+6) at New Orleans: The Saints are probably going to be without center Max Unger and Andrus Peat will likely start at left tackle, which means Cameron Tom will start at center and rookie Will Clapp will start at left guard. I’ve seen decks of cards at Harrah’s shuffled less.
The good news is Tom is a player the Saints have really liked and have been grooming the last 2 years for this moment. Clapp is local kid who was All-SEC and played at Brother Martin High School.
He’ll be up against a Steeler defense that is 18th in points allowed (22.6) but 9th in yards (333). The bigger concern with the Steelers is they are 2nd in NFL in sacks with 46. It is possibly the worst regular season week to have offensive line issues. If the Saints fall behind by 2 scores Sunday, I’ll be very worried the offensive line can hold up.
The Saints are about to get their biggest challenge on defense since they faced the Los Angeles Rams. The Steelers are top 5 in both points (27.4) and yards (405), so the 12-9 slugfest win vs Carolina was fun in its own unique way, but 12 points won’t cut it against the Steelers.
Everything points to a Steelers win when you factor in Saints injuries, offensive struggles, and the Steelers desperate need to win, but I want so badly for the Saints to wrap up home field advantage so we can see Teddy Bridgewater start next week in a meaningless season finale I refuse to use logic and facts to make this pick.
Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5) vs. Baltimore: The 11-5 2010 Saints playing a road playoff game at the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks was ridiculous, but the 13-3 Chargers having to travel to the 9-6-1 Steelers would be even more idiotic.
Kansas City (-2.5) at Seattle: The Seahawks may run the ball 70 times. It won’t matter though.
Philadelphia (-1) vs Houston: I can’t decide if either of these teams are good.
Detroit (+5.5) vs Minnesota: I don’t trust the Vikings and they feel like classic underachiever who stumble their way out of a playoff spot.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.