24. Mikel Leshoure, RB Illinois - It's been said that the Saints shouldn't spend a first round pick on a RB, unless it's a player with the potential to be perennial Pro Bowler. In my opinion there are only two such RBs in this year's draft: Mark Ingram and Leshoure. Ingram will likely be gone. Leshoure may be a slight reach here value wise, but he definitely won't be around at 56 and Mickey Loomis has never exhibited a willingness to trade down, much less out of the first round. The RBBC approach continues, only now -- for the first time in years -- there's a legitimate NFL starter amidst that rotation. Say hello to the second coming of Deuce McAllister.
56. Jabaal Sheard, DE Pittsburgh - For those who cannot fathom the Saints passing on an opportunity to improve their front seven, here's a trio of target selections designed to do just that. While not the pure pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan or Adrian Clayborn is, Sheard is fully capable of bringing the heat in passing situations and grades out better against the run than either. One of Dave Wannstedt's favorite players at Pitt, Sheard has remained somewhat overshadowed by four year starter Greg Romeus throughout his career, but truly came into his own in 2010, garnering Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors. Anyone remember the last time the Saints opted for the second best overall Panthers' defensive player in the second round? Here's a hint: it was a year ending in a 1 and his beloved "hometown" was a coastal community in southeast Florida.
72. Mason Foster, SOLB Washington - Foster could very well wind up going in the late second, but I have a feeling either he or Nevada's Dontay Moch could slip through to us in the third. I'm going with the lower rated of the two here as the more likely scenario. If for some reason BOTH are still on the board, we should undoubtedly snatch up WOLB Moch (the better pure pass rusher of the two), then cross our fingers, hoping that Foster slides 16 more slots. As is, this pick should solidify our pass coverage against opposing TEs, which becomes even more critical this season, considering Jeremy Shockey's new home address within the division. Foster is a high motor guy, who is an absolute terror on special teams. Though his straight line speed is suspect, he compensates for it well with excellent recognition skills, and excels at forcing turnovers. He can also play inside in both the 4-3 and the 3-4, something that should not be taken for granted, with neither Marvin Mitchell nor Stanley Arnoux under contract.
88. K.J. Wright, WOLB Mississippi State - Again, I'd love to land both Moch and Foster. I just don't see it happening. Here's someone I do see lingering on the board in the late 3rd. Wright would be an immediate upgrade over Scott Shanle, who could still conceivably be retained as a backup with starting experience. Wright is considerably underrated as a pass rusher and has performed well against top flight SEC competition. On the whole, he represents the best "disruptor" likely to be available this late. Along with Sheard and Foster, I feel his acquisition would more than adequately compensate for our earlier reach on offense.
215. Dwayne Harris, WR/KR East Carolina - The seventh round is a complete crapshoot. I'm basically just going with someone who I think: a.) could still be available, and b.) would immediately help the team in some capacity. In truth, there are a number of RBs and WRs that double as return specialists. One in particular, Jeremy Kerley of TCU, falls in that late 4th to early 6th round window, in which we do not currently have a pick. If we DO somehow manage to trade back into the 2nd, still land Leshoure and recoup a pick or two within that range, Kerley is someone I'd strongly consider, as I feel he could also be a dynamic playmaker on offense. While Harris doesn't possess that sort of all-around upside, he's clearly a step up from Courtney Roby as a receiver, as well as a legitimate threat in the return game, both on punts and kickoffs.