The draft is a simple thing on paper...evaluate talent, then, when it becomes your time to select, you pick the guy that either best fits your scheme or simply the true best player available. We all like to play along and pretend to be GM for a few months leading up to the draft, it's fun, enjoyable, and leads to great debate. We're fans, which basically means it's our job to over analyze and pretend we know our teams weaknesses. At this point, it seems to be a pretty clear-cut consensus that the Saints need help in anywhere from 4-5 areas. Those areas are, in no particular order, OT, DT, OLB, RB, and DE. Are there more areas we can improve on?....sure, but I think it's a safe bet that these five are brought up the most often.
Now that we know "the needs" so to speak...we head into the all telling draft conundrum. Do you draft for need...or do you draft the best player available. Obviously the key is to hopefully luck into a combination of both. A player that both fits your need, and can easily be argued as the best player currently rated on your board. Why am I bringing this all up? Two reasons. One...I got chosen to represent the Saints in the 7 round mock draft for Mocking the Draft coming up in two weeks. And two...I like debate. The more I pay attention to what's going on...the more I see the possibility of several key players that fit our positions of need sliding down to us. Now normally we'd say "great, pick the dude and move on". The problem is that I can see several players potentially dropping down to us that I have personally rated between the 18-23 all of whom fit our specific areas of need. Let's be honest...the difference between the 18th rated person in the draft and the 23rd...isn't exactly a broad leap, and all of them are rated higher than our current draft position.
So here's the thing. When confronted with this particular best case and worst case scenario (The best case being hey look the guy we want is here and the worse case being...GAAA too many choices) what do you do? Below are the people who I can see sliding to us. So, if these four are all present, and none of them technically pose as the BPA over another, who are you going to choose and why? Remember, this isn't a "bob's not going to be there scenario so he's out"...the question is posed as if they are all there, who do you choose and why. Below are the four candidates, why they would be a good fit, and why they may slide to us.
OLB - Akeem Ayers - Akeem is regarded as the second best outside linebacker in the draft. Until recently, it was generally regarded that Ayers would be well gone before the Saints selected at position 24 with his most logical suitors being the Giants, San Diego, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Why could he suddenly slide? His 40 time. Despite the fact that Ayers shows up on film as explosive, he failed to show as such at the combine. Although he looked fluid in his drills, his lack of explosion in the 40 could give a team pause.
RB - Mark Ingram - In a draft with a lot of depth, but lack of true all around talent, Ingram shines in comparison to his colleagues. While not the fastest of backs, Ingram runs with an incredible sense of balance and low center of gravity. One thing to remember, although Ingram did not post a blazing time by any means, Ingram was the fastest RB at the combine at the 10 yard split. What does that equate too?...Simple, explosion though the hole. How could he drop to us? Although Ingram is the top rated RB, he's generally thought of as around the 20th best prospect currently in the draft. That will keep most teams for over-reaching. In addition, teams with a need at running back, like the Dolphins, have holes at other positions that seem to be gaining more interest as of late.
OT - Anthony Castonzo - Castonzo is one of the top rated tackles on the board. He's a complete tackle with quick feet and good hands that can easily hold down the left tackle spot. In addition, he has the versatility and frame to add strength and potentially be able to play the right tackle position as well. He's excelled as a starter against elite competition for several years at Boston College and isn't merely a 1 year wonder. Why he could slide....while his numbers and combine performance was impressive, Solder and Smith seem to be the front runners at the position. He could additionally slide simply because the OT class has no clear tackle that most project to go within the top 10 teams where one generally expects teams needing a true LT to select.
DE - Ryan Kerrigan - Kerrigan has been a beast for several years at Purdue. He showed up at the combine a little heavier than expected at 267 lbs while showing impressive speed in the 40. His 10 split was one of the fastest for DEs as well as his broad jump, showing the ability to explode off the line. Kerrigan is a high motor, high character, sack machine. Why would he slide? Through no fault of his own. The reason why Kerrigan seems to be sliding is simply because of the incredible depth of the DE position. Players previously rated below Kerrigan, JJ Watt and Aldon Smith for example, are leap-frogging over Kerrigan because of their scheme versatility allowing the true 4-3 RDE to potentially land in the Saints' lap.