The New Orleans Saints said they stayed where they did in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft due to intel that the Chiefs wanted Cesar Ruiz.
One of the more popular prospects linked to the Kansas City Chiefs in mocks leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft was Michigan offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz. It turns out the New Orleans Saints believe that connection was a very real thing, which is why they didn’t trade out of their spot in the first round of last month’s draft.
Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland told reporters on Wednesday that the team was interested in moving down from No. 24 overall. However, the front office had “pretty strong intel” that the Chiefs and Dolphins were both interested in selecting Ruiz.
Through all of this, the Saints swapped out parts along the offensive front in an effort to keep Drew Brees clean and their salary cap balanced. They selected Ruiz as the first interior offensive lineman off the board and then gave him an instant starting spot in place of guard Larry Warford, who was then released after the draft in order to save over $7 million in cap space.
As for the Chiefs reported interest, they ended up landing running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the bottom of the first round and then selected offensive tackle Lucas Niang in the third round. While Niang is a future consideration at tackle given his extensive experience at Texas Christian, he’s expected to slide inside and compete for reps at guard in his rookie season.
Given all of this, it’s possible that the Chiefs draft class could have included Ruiz and then a running back taken where Niang was selected. Still the Chiefs seem quite pleased with their draft haul and were still able to address competition along the interior a bit later anyway.