Welcome to the fifth and final installment of my New Orleans Saints mock draft series. Okay it's not really a series, but I know how much my readers love these things.
In this version of the 2013 New Orleans Saints draft, I'll be trying to narrow down what Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis are thinking - good luck - and figuring out just what the Black & Gold will wind up with when the dust settles this Sunday.
New Orleans has brought in a lot of interesting prospects and can go any which way they want with just about every hole filled in free agency. I don't consider Jason Smith "filling a need at LT or any OT."
So who do they target? Will any high-profile prospects slip out of the top 10 and into the Saints lap? Do they have their customary "what-the-hell" moment in the later rounds? Andrew Tiller, anyone?
Let's take a look:
First Round: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jones was also my choice in another mock draft, and I just have this gut feeling that he is New Orleans' guy. They know he's going to be there. Rob Ryan loves him. All signs are seemingly pointing in this direction. The only other guy I wrestled with putting here would be Kenny Vaccaro, but I just see see the Saints weighing the need at OLB as more of the immediate nature than that of the safety position.
The darkhorses for this pick are Tavon Austin and Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah. Austin for obvious reasons. And Ansah? Just take this simple fact into account: the Saints spent more time with him this off-season than any other prospect (at the Senior Bowl and an extended two-day visit on Airline Dr.).
If he falls he won't get past 15, but I don't see that happening so Jones it is.
Third Round: Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
Who Dats, you ever thought, "Man, I wish we could clone Marques Colston and add some speed!"
Enter Aaron Dobson: a 6'3" catching machine with great hands and physicality.
He might not have played in a big conference, but good luck trying to outfight him for a jump ball or staying in front of him in press coverage because he is great at both. Dobson held his own against top competition a the Senior Bowl and was the only WR there that gave my top corner, Desmond Trufant, fits. His recent 40 time of 4.37 just catapulted him to high third round status.
The most impressive sat that jumps off the page with this Marshall product: he was targeted 92 times last year and didn't drop one pass. Oh yeah, did I mention he has decent hands as well?
Fourth Round: Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State
The Saints just recently brought the Buckeye in for a visit, and their interest seems to be growing given the lack of offensive tackle talent that has been brought to the team's facilities. The only other guy who would be an option here would be LSU product Chris Faulk, and I just see Fragel as the better option at this point.
Fragel is a converted tight end, and that athleticism helped him get better as the year progressed. His pass and run blocking were pretty good from the start, so good that he beat out a highly-touted freshman for the right tackle position at Ohio St. They have only gotten better since. I truly believe if he had been moved to tackle sooner, he'd be a first rounder.
Fifth Round: Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond
Taylor has all the tools to be a very good safety in this league for a long time, but just like Jones his medical condition (Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome) causes teams to pause. So that's why the Georgia Tech transfer was rated as a 7-FA before the draft process played out. That is about the time that Taylor started rising. He was cleared medically and proceeded to tear up workouts.
Measuring in at a 6' 5" and 238 lbs, he is massive for a defensive back. That big of a safety should not be running 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, but he does. His footwork and decisiveness are also some of the things that are going to make him a steal in the fifth round.
Sixth Round: Michael Mauti, ILB, Penn St.
Here's the "What-the-hell moment" you've been waiting for.
You might have expected a quarterback here to groom as Drew Brees' backup and possible successor. Nope, but this kid does add a bit of local flavor to the Saints, and his dad, Rich, used to play a little receiver for the Black & Gold back in the day,
The Mandeville product has everything you look for in an inside linebacker, and would be a 2nd-3rd round prospect if not for tearing his ACL in both knees during his stay at Penn State. Nowadays, ACL injuries are becoming a non-issue with the recent success of athlete's quick recoveries. That's when you take into account what kind of player he was when he was on the field.
The Nittany Lion is a big hitter, and his instincts and linebacker acumen are off the charts. Despite what his 40 time (4.8 sec) says, Mauti has the athleticism and speed to chase down plays from sideline-to-sideline. Given David Hawthorne's injury history, Jonathan Vilma's age and the thin depth chart behind them, they might want to start for a long-term buddy for Curtis Lofton in the middle. He would be an immediate boost to the special teams as well.