By Maddy Hudak | Yahoo Sports
The New Orleans Saints selected three defensive players back-to-back-to-back in the 2021 NFL draft for the first time since 2009. Despite this deviation to address roster needs, initial scrutiny of the draft class largely focused on the Saints No. 28 overall selection of defensive end Payton Turner.
Since the hiring of Jeff Ireland to overhaul the scouting department, two main factors have shaped New Orleans’ draft approach: selecting the best player available on their board and drafting on a prototype. Measurables include the obvious factors of size, height, and speed, but analysis of the team’s draft history reveals a pointed correlation with the Relative Athletic Score (RAS). While the Saints don’t subscribe to RAS specifically, their in-house metrics appear to line up with it very closely.
Every player the Saints drafted in this year’s class besides Notre Dame’s Ian Book had an RAS score of 9.0 or higher (0 to 10 scale). Their first three selections are in the top six RAS scores of all players drafted since 2017; with the exception of Book, all players drafted in this class are in the top nine. Turner scored the highest of all defensive ends drafted since 2017, Werner highest of all linebackers drafted since 2017, and Adebo scored second only to Marshon Lattimore’s 9.99 RAS score.
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