The 2012 season was one the Saints would probably like to forget, but with Sean Payton back on the sidelines and the bounty scandal behind them, it's on to 2013. The bounty scandal and sanctions had some impact on the Saints, but it wasn't the only reason for their 7-9 season.
New Orleans had major issues last season, especially defense where they allowed an NFL-worst 440.1 yards per game. With as many issues as New Orleans had last season, there are plenty of holes to fill across the defense. The Saints finished dead last in rushing defense and second to last in passing defense. New Orleans should have a chance to fill a few of their holes early in the NFL Draft.
Top three needs:
Defensive end - Will Smith and Cameron Jordan combined to start all 32 games at defensive end last season and while they've had success, defensive end remains a need. Smith will be 32 when the season starts and was nearly released this offseason. He and Jordan played the majority of snaps at defensive end with no obvious long-term replacement behind them.
Nose tackle - Brodrick Bunkley was solid in his first season in New Orleans, but depth is a major issue. Bunkley started 15 games, but was used in a rotation. Sedrick Ellis was a major contributor, but he's a free agent. Instead of re-signing him, New Orleans could add a player in the draft who can rotate with the 29-year-old Bunkley.
Outside linebacker - The Saints invested big free agent dollars in linebacker before last season, but with David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton struggling in their first season in New Orleans, the position remains an area of need. Hawthorne and Jonathan Vilma are penciled into the starting outside linebacker spots, but both could be on the roster fringe due to their hefty contracts and lack of production. By drafting a linebacker early, New Orleans may be able to upgrade at the position while also reducing costs significantly.
Ideal pick: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU or Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia