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The Saints need a few more pieces to catch up with the giants in the NFC West. The New Orleans defense took a huge step forward under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in 2013, while the offense was good but maddeningly inconsistent. Drew Brees needs more time to get Jimmy Graham the ball, and the Saints need someone else to take pressure off Graham. The 6-foot-7 tight end put up relatively poor numbers in the Saints’ six losses, catching 20 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns.
1. Offensive Tackle
The Saints had issues with their offensive tackles as the 2013 season wore on. Rookie Terron Armstead ended up replacing Charles Brown at left tackle near the end of the season and into the playoffs. With mediocre Zach Strief on the opposite side, an upgrade at the tackle position is necessary to protect quarterback Drew Brees and give him adequate time in the pocket to pick apart opposing defenses.
2. Wide Receiver
Drew Brees spreads the ball around, but tight end Jimmy Graham and running backs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas were three of the Saints’ top four pass catchers in 2013. Only Marques Colston fit into that group as a wide receiver, and he certainly isn’t getting any younger. While the Saints did select former Oklahoma product Kenny Stills in last year’s draft, New Orleans could still use another weapon to take attention away from Graham down the field.
The Saints defense had a bounce back season under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, finding ways to pressure the quarterback with his creative blitz packages. However, while the Saints were fourth in the NFL with 49 sacks, they picked off just 12 passes, finishing tied for 24th in that category. They took safety Kenny Vaccaro in last year’s draft, and he played well before getting injured in Week 16. While the Saints still defended the pass well in 2013, it was largely due to getting to the quarterback. The team could still benefit from a cover corner to bolster their secondary.