The New Orleans Saints did follow through on the projections that they would take a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. But it may not have been the quarterback that some were expecting to end up in New Orleans...especially where the pick was made.

Going into last week's NFL Draft, there were "experts" who suggested that players like Michael Penix, Jr could fall all the way to the Saints in the 5th round of the draft. Now most NFL fans that pay attention to the draft knew that Penix wouldn't last that long (we had no idea he'd be taken in the Top 10, thanks Atlanta), but it was apparent to most that the Saints would look for a quarterback. It was just a question of where in the draft they would pull the trigger.

Enter South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler.

South Carolina v Missouri
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Most of the highly regarded mock drafts put Rattler into the 3rd round of the draft, specifically around the 70th pick. Teams like the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, and New England Patriots were all rumored to like him around that spot. But the third round came and went, and Rattler wasn't taken.

Then the fourth round came and went...and Rattler wasn't taken.

When the 5th round started up, some people online started looking at Spencer Rattler's fall in the draft as a storyline. They tried to find the reason why a guy projected to be a third round pick was suddenly still available in the fifth round. That argument will continue for a while, but it took a detour at pick 15 of the fifth round (150th overall) when the New Orleans Saints picked the quarterback.

Even though Rattler had visited with the Saints pre-draft, it didn't look like a strong possibility that he would join the franchise. The team had very few picks in the top 75, and with Rattler expected to be gone within those picks, it just didn't seem like a match. Rattler also wasn't projected as the type of value that you would trade heavy capital to move up and take.

But he fell, and the Saints acted.

South Carolina v Clemson
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

This could end up being a big time steal for the black and gold too. Since prior to the 2024 draft, Rattler was being projected as a first round talent.

Coming out of high school, Rattler was the top quarterback recruit in the country. He picked Oklahoma to play his college football, and was a massive star as soon as he stepped on campus.

During his first full season as the starter at Oklahoma, he led the team to a Big 12 Championship, and set records along the way. Going into his second year as the starter in 2021, Rattler was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. But things didn't go as planned during the year, and Rattler ended up getting benched in favor of Caleb Williams (the #1 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft) during the Texas game. Eventually the coaching staff would start to leave the program, and Rattler followed.

He transferred to South Carolina for the 2022 season, and came in as their starting quarterback right away.

South Carolina v Georgia
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

During his South Carolina career, many could see what brought the hype to Rattler early on. He threw for over 3,000 yards in each of his two seasons in the SEC. His completion percentage was over 67%, and he threw for 37 touchdowns to 20 interceptions. He set school records during his two years as well, including Most Touchdown Passes in a Game which he set a 6 touchdowns when he led a 63-38 drubbing of the #5 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The following game, he led the Gamecocks to a win over #8 Clemson, and became the first South Carolina quarterback to ever beat two Top 10 teams in a row.

Rattler then announced he would return to South Carolina for his senior season in 2023.

In 2023, Rattler racked up 3,186 yards, 19 touchdowns (8 interceptions), a 69% completion percentage, and 4 rushing touchdowns. It was one of the best seasons for a quarterback in South Carolina program history.

Rattler then competed in the 2024 Senior Bowl, where he was named the MVP. During that week of practice (and the game) he impressed fans and scouts with his arm talent.

Now, he's a New Orleans Saint, with what could actually be the steal of the draft. He was taken at #150, which was the first quarterback selection since Bo Nix was taken by Denver with the 12th overall pick. Which sets a common draft era record for the longest stretch between quarterback picks.

Derek Carr is the Saints starting quarterback right now, but he had a mixed year last year. The team is still committed to him until 2026, where they have a buyout option in his massive contract. This could give Rattler time to adjust to life in the NFL, and the playbook. Letting him grow behind Carr, and he could be ready to step in once the Saints and Carr separate.

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