The New Orleans Saints will almost definitely make other changes in the 2023 offseason. Keep in mind that they still have a number of open places on their depth chart. Of course, they can do so through the draft. Yet, the Saints have a few rookie prospects that may be labeled as “traps.” Here we’ll look at the rookie prospects that the New Orleans Saints must avoid in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Saints have eight draft picks in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. Recall that they have a first-round pick they acquired from the Broncos in exchange for head coach Sean Payton. However, they do not have their own first-round pick as it was traded to the Eagles last year along with their second-round pick in 2024. Their 16th pick was traded to the Washington Commanders for the 2022 11th overall pick, which they used to select WR Chris Olave. The Saints also used the 19th pick to draft OT Trevor Penning. They did acquire Philadelphia’s fifth-round pick as part of the trade for defensive back CJ Gardner-Johnson.
The Saints still have their own draft picks in Rounds two to five and a seventh-round pick through the compensatory process. This gives them the option to either use the selections or move around the draft board. They do not have their sixth-round pick as it was traded to the Texans for CB Bradley Roby. With so many picks, the Saints should have a lot of chances to improve. Of course, that’s assuming they don’t pick any duds.
Let’s look at the players that the Saints must avoid in the 2023 NFL Draft.
1. Felix Anudike-Uzomah
Felix Anudike-Uzomah had a successful three-year career at Kansas State. He tallied 100 tackles, 20 sacks, and eight forced fumbles in that span. He also garnered multiple accolades, including being named 2021-2022 Big-12 First-Team All-American, 2022 Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, and 2022 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Anudike-Uzomah is an explosive player with a strong first step, plus-level strength, and good lateral agility. He is most effective as an edge rusher when aligned on the outside shoulder of the tackle. That’s where he can use his pass-rush repertoire, which includes moves such as a two-hand swipe, jab-swipe bull rush, and an explosive rip move.
However, when he is reduced to an interior alignment, his effectiveness against the run and pass is reduced. He lacks the strength to take on double teams and maintain the line of scrimmage against the run. Anudike-Uzomah also lacks the overall strength to overpower interior offensive linemen as a pass rusher at the interior defensive line position. These limitations just don’t make him a good pick on Day 1.
Kansas State EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah had a field day in 2021 vs. TCU
Six sacks, damn…the junior EDGE rusher had 89 pressures, 19.5 sacks, and 25.5 tackles for a loss in his last two seasons. pic.twitter.com/7U2Unas7YR
— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) April 7, 2023
2. BJ Ojulari
During his time at LSU, BJ Ojulari had to adapt to multiple defensive coordinator changes. This affected his ability to consistently learn one scheme and technique. Despite this, Ojulari has shown to be most effective as a stand-up edge rusher where he can use his athleticism to block both in the passing game and the run game.
Ojulari’s biggest strength is his pass-rushing ability. He has an explosive first step that he can use to beat offensive linemen with speed around the edge. He also showcases good balance and bending ability to win around the edge by dipping and ripping under offensive linemen. Additionally, Ojulari has good fluidity and change of direction. He also likes to use a hesitation move to get offensive linemen off balance before attacking with a variety of hand combat moves. However, he needs to work on being more decisive earlier in his pass rush.
Ojulari’s potential for improvement lies in his lack of size and overall strength to play along the line of scrimmage. This is particularly evident in the run game where he struggles to work through traffic and be physical. He also has difficulty disengaging from offensive linemen due to length issues. This leads to him often giving up yardage in the run game. Like Anudike-Uzomah, Ojulari is good. However, he’s not Day 1 material right now.
1. Adetomiwa Adebawore
Despite his small frame, Adetomiwa Adebawore possesses sufficient length and can disengage blocks when he identifies the flow of the ball carrier. His best performances usually come as an interior penetration player. He can use his first-step quickness and center of gravity to penetrate past blockers and get into a position to close in on the quarterback. Although he has shown flashes of disruption on film, he needs to finish better to tally tackles for loss or sacks.
While he impresses with his quickness and hand-fighting in head-up rushes inside, his edge-rushing abilities are limited. Adebawore tends to rely on power from wide angles to win. This just limits his potential if used exclusively on the outside. However, he has the power to win against soft-setting tackles without powerful hands.
Overall, Adebawore is a high-effort football player who can offer desirable disruption up front. His ability to play early downs will depend on the team’s preference. However, he is likely best as an interior pass-rusher, where his aggressiveness and quickness can create mismatches against heavy-footed blockers. Adebawore is honestly the weakest EDGE prospect on this list. He should be taken no earlier than late second round.