Draft season is well upon us and with just over two weeks until the opening night of the 2017 NFL draft opinions, rumors and mock drafts are circulating. The Saints are in position to really add some key contributors to a team that is on the cusp of playoff contention according to veteran members of the team and coaching staff. The Saints own five picks in the top three rounds. Let’s look at a Saints Mock Draft.
Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have spoken at length this offseason about strengthening the defense to help the team become more balanced with both admitting that a pass rusher and cornerbacks are at the top of the list as “must” additions. The Saints are flirting with a trade for Malcolm Butler and the potential free agent addition of running back Adrian Peterson to replace Tim Hightower. As it stands neither has been complete so I will treat this mock draft as if these deals have not been complete by opening night of the draft.
With that being said the Saints have just been put on the clock with the 11th pick overall.
The Saints war room at this point will be looking to add an immediate contributor preferably on the defensive side of the ball. I think this pick has to be an edge rusher. The draft is deep with cornerback talent available throughout the rounds in this year’s draft. The main two at this spot would be Derek Barnett and Taco Charlton. The Saints are said to be very high on Charlton and have had a private work out with Barnett to date. Barnett was highly productive throughout college and although he is not as athletic as the top rushers in recent drafts he compares favourably to last seasons Rookie of the year winner Joey Bosa with a lot of the same question marks coming out of college. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com recently shared the thoughts of an AFC Scouting director who said Barnett reminds him of a young Terrell Suggs coming out of college. Brooks himself said Barnett is arguably the top pass rusher in this draft. Charlton is the more prototypical DE that the Saints would covet at 6’6” over 270 pounds he is more athletic than the smaller Barnett and has more upside within scouting circles saying he is just scratching the surface of his potential and NFL coaches might get more out of him than his college coaches could. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report recently tweeted that he would want Barnett for right now however in 1-2 years Charlton could be the more complete player. With both players still available on the clock the Saints are in a fortunate position here.
The pick is in….
With the 11th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints pick Derek Barnett, Defensive End, Tennessee.
With the saints in win now mode they cannot wait on Charlton’s potential … They take the ready-to-contribute Barnett and hope he can translate his sack production as quickly as Bosa did last season. If he develops into half the player Terrell Suggs has been in the NFL they will be getting a very good player for years to come.
The Saints have just been put on the clock with the 32nd pick overall.
With arguably the biggest “must” position addressed the Saints now has the option of going in a couple of directions with this pick. Do they look for a quarterback of the future? Kizer is available. However currently available is cornerback Kevin King of Washington. PFF compares King to Richard Sherman and says he maybe doesn’t have the instincts Sherman had at this stage however he is more athletic so he could translate to the NFL quickly. Jarrad Davis the Florida linebacker is also available and some in the scouting circle believe him to be the better of the linebacker prospects saying he has the best instincts of the class.
The pick is in….
With the 32nd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints pick Kevin King, Cornerback, Washington.
The Saints get the 2nd “must” covered with this pick. King is a tall and athletic press man cover corner who could start immediately for the Saints and matchup against the big bodied receivers in the division. I also think if the Saints were to trade their 2nd round pick as part of a package for Butler that this still makes sense here.
The Saints have just been put on the clock with the 42nd pick overall.
The Saints just watched the Bengals take Jarrad Davis at 41st and I think he really could have been in play at this pick. This is where it gets interesting. The Saints have addressed “must” 1A and 1B in the 1st round. We all know Payton said they want to come away with 2 corners in the draft so Cordea Tankersley and Awuzie could be in play at this pick along with WR Curtis Samuel and RB Joe Mixon .
The pick is in…
With the 42nd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints pick Sidney Jones, Cornerback, Washington.
The Saints double dip at cornerback and from the University of Washington to select the corner who was considered the best at the position before he got injured at his pro day. Reports say that Jones is confident he will be ready to play no later than October and with the Saints are getting Delvin Breaux, PJ Williams and more back from injury as well as the addition of Jones’ college teammate King in the 1st allows the Saints to take time with Jones to get him back to full health. PFF compares Jones to Jonathan Joseph and say he excels at playing press man and has excellent ball skills. With the 2 drafted corners and Delvin Breaux the Saints would have the tools to turnaround one of the worst pass defences in the league the last couple of seasons. I even think if the Saints do trade the 31st pick for Malcom Butler that this pick also makes sense.
The Saints have just been put on the clock with the 76th pick overall.
At this point the Saints could go anyway. I think the Saints would like to grab a young tackle at this point to groom as Zach Strief’s successor. WR’s Carlos Henderson and JuJu Smith Schuster are available as well as linebackers Raekwon MacMillan and Duke Riley.
The pick is in…
With the 76th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints pick Roderick Johnson, Tackle, Florida State.
A developmental tackle who has the frame and physical traits to succeed but will need to have his mechanics completely rebuilt and will benefit from a couple of off seasons in an NFL strength and conditioning program. The Saints have proven they can develop offensive lineman and could take the inconsistent Johnson and mold him into a very good tackle on the right side.
The Saints have just been put on the clock with the 103rd pick overall.
Avialable on the board for the Saints at this pick is DE Derek Rivers, C/G Ethan Pocic, WR’s Henderson & Taylor and safety Marcus Maye.
The pick is in…
With the 103rd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints pick Shelton Gibson, Wide Receiver, West Virginia.
The Saints land an explosive playmaker to help alleviate the loss of Brandin Cooks. Gibson is a fast deep threat receiver who had 36% of his receptions go for 25 plus yards the last two seasons according to NFL.com Gibson compares to Corey Coleman who was a 1st round pick last season. Gibson could split reps with Ted Ginn Jr and contribute on special teams.
The Saints are on the clock with the 196th pick overall.
The players who are available at the top of my board are WR’s Rudolph & Malone, LB Gedeon and Edge Price. I think the Saints would like to double dip at edge in this draft but I think they wait 1 more round.
The pick is in…
With the 196th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints pick TJ Logan, Running Back, North Carolina.
With this pick the Saints add another explosive weapon to the offensive in the same mold as Darren Sproles. TJ Logan is an undersized back with blistering speed and he is effective on outside runs and sweeps and is an excellent receiver out of the back field. Combined with Mark Ingram the Saints have another thunder and lightening duo. This pick also makes sense if the Saints do sign Adrian Peterson to replace Tim Hightower.
The Saints are on the clock with the 229th pick overall, their last in the draft.
The players available at this stage are conerbacks Clark and Hairston and Quarterbacks Kelly and Beathard. I know some fans would want Chad Kelly here but I do not think he is a Saints player in the making. I think the Saints have spent the last two offseasons changing the culture of the locker room and it is why I have them staying away from guys like Mixon, Cook, Williams etc. As mentioned above I think the Saints double dip at edge.
The pick is in…
With the 229th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints pick Tashawn Bower, Defensive End, LSU.
There we go, the Saints pick their first player from LSU since drafting Al Woods, we all know how that turned out, however I think this pick will pan out differently. Bower is a developmental pass rush prospect who the Saints can take their time to mould under the tutelage of Ryan Nielsen. Bower is a tall athletic rusher who started to show signs of improvement last year in college.
There we have it. My 2017 mock draft is in the books and no doubt I will have hit on zero of the players the Saints will pick. I have looked at this and tried to select the players the I think the Saints would if the board fell this way during the draft. Feel free to critique in the comments below. I am looking forward to the draft and hope the Saints managed to address the Must, Needs and Wants to help us become playoff contenders, Championship contenders again. WHO DAT!!
Written by Ross McRobert
Draft Simulator used Fanspeak.com
Scouting Profiles sourced from NFL.com and PFF.com