We are 20 days away from the start of the NFL Draft in Dallas. The Saints will be looking to knock this draft out of the park the way they did last years. Using fanspeak.com’s draft simulator this was how the board fell. I aimed to take BPA rather than positions of need.
Round 1 Pick 27 – Josh Sweat – DE – Florida State
Sweat needs to improve his consistency but could develop into a dominant edge defender wreaking havoc in opponent’s backfields. Sweat tested surprisingly better than expected at the combine and more importantly passed all the medical checks. Unlike most pass rushers who weigh in at 250 lbs, Sweat is a competent run defender. Once in a scheme that allows him to rush the passer more consistently Sweat could develop into a double-digit sack artist and has been compared to a slightly smaller Jadeveon Clowney by Dane Brugler. With the job that Ryan Nielsen done with the Saints defensive line last season I believe this would be a great match for both the team and the player. Nielsen will light a fire under Sweat and give him the coaching required to become a great player. Sweat would give the Saints defensive line the speed it has lacked opposite Cam Jordan since Junior Galette was released. Sweat was 1 of only 19 players that NDT Scouting gave a 1st round grade to.
Round 3 Pick 91 – Uchenna Nwosu – LB – USC
So far, this offseason the Saints have shown interest in a lot of the hybrid outside linebacker prospects. The skillset they appear to be looking for is guys who display skills in coverage, against the run and as a blitzer/pass rusher. Of the prospects they have met with, Nwosu was one the Saints showed a lot of interest in, meeting extensively with him at his pro day. Nwosu would be a versatile addition to the linebacker corps and give Dennis Allen and Mike Nolan another developmental chess piece to move around. Nwosu would give Allen a bit more juice when dialling up his exotic blitz packages as he tested well at the combine. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com said that Nwosu would be best suited to playing Sam linebacker in the NFL to take advantage of his strengths. In my opinion this is one of the more understated needs on the Saints defense. Adding a player of this skillset could be the missing part of the jigsaw for the Saints defense and watching tape on him I couldn’t help think how frightening it would be for opposing QB’s & OC’s to have Nwosu coming off the strong side behind Cam Jordan.
Round 4 Pick 127 – DaeSean Hamilton – WR – Penn State
The Saints need a slot wide receiver. The offense was poor on third down conversions last season. Previously the Saints have relied on Willie Snead in those situations and while he was retained as a restricted free agent, the Saints should add insurance with this pick. They get one here in DaeSean Hamilton. Hamilton has excellent size for a slot receiver and he can make contested catches down the field and through contact. He is sharp in and out of his breaks and is a precise route runner. He is a good receiver on 3rd downs and in the redzone with 80% of his catches going for 1st downs in 2017 according to Lance Zierlein. He needs to continue to work on his focus and eradicate the drops from his game. Dane Brugler said his skillset and play style make him a quarterbacks best friend with his always available mentality in the mold of Doug Baldwin. This would be an excellent addition for the Saints receiving corps.
Round 5 Pick 147 – PJ Hall – DT – Sam Houston State
The Saints were one of the interested teams in adding Ndamukong Suh in free agency. Opposing offenses averaged 4 yard per carry against the Saints defense last season. Hall is undersized as a defensive tackle however at 308 lbs he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.76 seconds. He was highly productive in the FCS and has the versatility to play across the defensive line. He also blocked 14 kicks in college. He is extremely athletic and strong, winning matchups using both attributes. Due to his style of play and athletic ability he is being compared to Aaron Donald by some in scouting circles. Hall would be a great addition to the Saints defensive line rotation.
Round 5 Pick 164 – Parry Nickerson – CB – Tulane
With Delvin Breaux unsigned and PJ Williams approaching free agency next season the Saints could look to draft a Cornerback in 2018. Patrick Robinson was a great addition for the team. He is another young talent for him to mentor. The biggest knock on Nickerson is he is undersized for the position and lacks the required length. The positives are he played on an island in the Tulane secondary. He can play press man and off man coverages. He can get physical on contested catches and uses his positioning to take away 50/50 throws deflecting 27 passes the last 2 seasons and he is a ballhawk intercepting 10 passes over the same period. Nickerson would be a very nice addition for Aaron Glenn and Dennis Allen to coach up either as an undersized outside corner or move him inside as a Nickel back.
Round 6 Pick 189 – Joseph Noteboom – OT/G – TCU
The Saints lost Senio Kelemete to free agency and Zach Strief retired leaving the Saints thin on the offensive line depth. Jermon Bushrod was added on a 1 year contract so the Saints could do with adding to the depth on the Offensive line. Noteboom was durable throughout college recording 40 starts at Left and Right tackle and practiced at Guard. Technique and strength need refinement but could develop into a starter with time. The Saints have prior history of being able to coach up mid to late round offensive linemen.
Round 6 Pick 201 – Timon Parris – OT – Stony Brook
As stated above. The Saints need depth on the Offensive line. Parris is an intriguing prospect. He has the skillset and athleticism required to one day be an NFL starter. Plays with a nasty streak on the field and takes it personally when the QB gets hit. He is a good leader and was durable throughout college. This could be another small school offensive lineman the Saints develop into a starter.
Round 7 Pick 245 – Riley Ferguson – QB – Memphis
The Saints could be in play for Lamar Jackson or one of the other top QB prospects in this year’s draft if they start to fall. However, I think with the Saints are in win now mode and they take a prospect to groom at the position. Ferguson has a cannon for an arm. He has a gunslinger’s mentality and has stated he bases his game on Brett Favre. He had a very good touchdown to interception ratio and completed 63% of his passes in college. The Saints would have to have Joe Lombardi spend plenty time refining his mechanics and footwork. The traits are there to work with and learning from a future hall of famer might help turn this prospect into a hidden gem.