I just read where the Saints resigned free agent Wide Receiver Joseph Morgan to a one year deal, and remembered that tomorrow is St. Joseph's Day. That's pretty much irrelevant to this post, but I always thought mock drafts had to be pre-something or post-something. Anyways!
This draft was conducted via the Fanspeak's On the Clock NFL Mock Draft Simluator. I went in with the assumption that I would make my selections using the BPA philosophy at our positions of need unless someone dropped a lot further down the board than I expected them to drop. All analysis comes directly from the NFL Draft website. That said, let's check out the newest batch of your New Orleans Saints.
Round 1, Overall Pick 27:
Eric Ebron, Tight End, Univeristy of North Carolina
6'4", 250 lbs
StrengthsOutstanding athletic ability and receiving skills. Threatens every level. Advanced route runner. Releases cleanly and accelerates into patterns. Pierces the seam and is a mismatch vs. man coverage -- regularly bested defensive backs. Terrific balance, agility and body control. Catches cleanly off his frame. Makes one-handed grabs look routine. Big catch radius. Catches on the move and has an extra gear to pile up yards. Had 875 yards receiving as a junior, breaking Vernon Davis' ACC record. Will be a 21-year-old rookie.
WeaknessesLacks ideal height and bulk. Can improve as a blocker, both in-line and on the move -- could stand to improve technique, physicality and finish. Not equipped to lock horns with NFL defensive ends. Inconsistent adjusting to and fitting on moving targets. Blocking effort does not parallel that of receiving. Could stand to play with more consistent intensity and focus. Occasional concentration drop. Ordinary touchdown production. Cannot be used as a fullback.
Bottom LineHighly athletic, highly productive "F" tight end dripping with upside and mismatch capability. Ebron might not be in the "freak" category, but his speed, movement skills, hands and run-after-catch skill puts him in the next tier, as he has ample ability to be a playmaker at the next level.
My Take: at best, we have our Tight End duo of the future with Ebron and Graham. At worst, we lose Graham to free agency next year after he plays on a Franchise tender this season, leaving us with Ebron as our first line of attack at the position. His youth could be well-served as he would be learning from our All-Pro TE and well seasoned veteran, Benjamin Watson.
Round 2, Overall Pick 58:
Marcus Martin, Center, University of Southern California
6'3", 320 lbs.
StrengthsThick and wide-bodied. Walls off and seals defenders. Can work his hips to maneuver and seal. Athletic enough to step to the second level. Plays with his head on a swivel. Good anchor ability in pass protection -- can dig his cleats in the ground vs. big-bodied pluggers and match size with size. Three-year starter with experience at guard and center. Was a 20-year-old junior.
WeaknessesA bit knock-kneed and pigeon-toed with herky-jerky movement. Soft puncher. Gets top-heavy and bends at the waist. Average initial quickness, balance and sustain. Ordinary hip snap -- power element missing. Limited lateral agility and recovery ability. Struggles to connect with moving targets. Is not a strong finisher or an aggressive go-getter. Does not dominate the way he is capable.
Bottom LineOutstanding-sized, barrel-chested finesse pivot with center-guard versatility. Grades out highly as a position-sustain blocker and possesses untappped strength and power in his body. Lacks desirable grit, toughness and finishing strength to maximize his talent and is stronger than he plays. Has instant-starter potential as a center or right guard, but could stand to benefit from some time to be groomed.
My take: he's a big, strong, versatile Center that would start immediately (unless PayLoo have designs of Lelito at the position) and contribute. His lack of "grit, toughness, and finishing strength" may be his Achilles' Heel, but his upside outweighs those negatives, in my eyes.
Round 3, Overall Pick 91:
Keith McGill, Cornerback, University of Utah
6'3", 211 lbs
StrengthsRare size with extremely long arms -- looks every bit the part. Very good athletic ability. Versatile and can play safety or corner.
WeaknessesLacks the physicality and toughness desired at safety. Does not support the run aggressively or play to his size. Average transitional quickness. Still has some junior-college habits. Footwork needs refinement.
Bottom LineBig, athletic, press-man corner who can excite scouts when they get an up-close look at his movement skills. However, he has a junior-college background, does not play to his size and will need to be managed closely to maximize his talent. Appears destined for Pete Carroll's defense.
My take: it's a copycat league; always has been, and always will be. Every fan saw what Seattle did with their bigger corners in press man coverage last year, and will be emulating it justifiably. This is our shot at that trend. He may not be our Opening weekend starter, but this pick is a pick for the future. Draft him, coach him up, get his footwork cleaned up, and let him loose. I just hope he keeps his mouth shut, unlike Richard Sherman.
Round 4, Overall Pick 122:
Martavis Bryant, Wide Receiver, University of Clemson
6'4", 211 lbs
StrengthsExcellent body length with a long, rangy frame. Very good straight-line, separation speed. Can drop his hips surprisingly well for as tall as he is and is fairly shifty after the catch. Good red-zone target -- effective making back-shoulder catches. Flashes the ability to climb the ladder and highpoint the ball. Has return experience.
WeaknessesInconsistent hands -- tends to double-clutch the ball and makes too many easy drops. Is not a polished route runner -- is stiff in and out of his breaks. Lacks toughness desired to work the middle of the field. Must prove that he is willing to work to assimilate a playbook and learn the finer points of the game.
A lean, long-limbed, rangy, outside-the-numbers, big-play receiver, Bryant declared for the draft early with underclassmen nipping at his playing time late in the season. Will require additional seasoning to make a mark in the pro game. A better tester than football player at this stage of his development.
My take: Bryant was overshadowed by top Wide Receiver prospect Sammy Watkins during his final season at Clemson, but he was also pushed for playing time by underclassmen. Not a good thing, obviously, but Clemson has produced some fairly good receivers the past few years. That may be an issue of simply more talented players being in the wings. A bit of a risk, but Sean Payton may turn him into a contributing player when it's all said and done.
Round 5, Overall Pick 155:
Deion Belue, Cornerback, University of Alabama
5'11", 182 lbs
StrengthsEasy pedal. Good speed. Fluid movement. Has short-area quickness to mirror off the line. Good read-and-react skills. Aware in zone. Competitive -- unafraid to get his hands on receivers off the line. Does not back down from a challenge. Has worked as a jammer. Solid personal and football character -- respected teammate with a conscientious, professional approach to the game. Is tough for his size and will play hurt.
WeaknessesSize is just adequate -- is skinny and needs to bulk up. Short arms and very small hands. Disadvantaged vs. bigger, stronger receivers. Not explosive. Gives ground at the break point. Loses phase. Inconsistent downfield ball reactions. Minimal ball production. Weak, shoddy tackler. Has been dinged up and durability is an issue.
Bottom LineBelue, who was bothered by turf toe all season, is a lean, high-cut, press-bail corner with good speed, range and competitiveness. Manned the field corner position in college, but effectiveness wanes with his back to the ball. He must shore up his tackling and prove valuable on special teams in order to compete for a sub-package role.
My take: Belue is a depth pick, and as we all know, depth at corner is paramount through the vigorous sixteen-plus game season these players have ahead of them. He would likely see time on Special Teams if he makes the final 53 man roster. Possibly a dime corner should he be called into action.
Round 5, Overall Pick 157:
Dri Archer, Running Back/Offensive Weapon, Kent State University
5'8", 173 lbs
StrengthsOutstanding burst, acceleration and top-end speed to take the corner and create big plays. Can fly by MAC competition with top gear. Very good agility, balance, vision and creativity. Weaves through a crowd and can find daylight. Soft-handed and plucks the ball with ease. Extremely strong pound-for-pound. Very good career all-purpose yardage. Good versatility -- contributes as a runner, slot receiver and return man. Four career kickoff-return TDs (and was kicked away from).
WeaknessesVery short and rail thin with no strength or running power. Not a tackle-breaker and goes down easy on contact. Limited inside runner. Can be knocked off routes easily and struggles catching on contact. Not a nuanced route runner. Very marginal, underpowered blocker. Could stand to do a better job securing the ball in traffic. Is not ideally built to withstand a full NFL season.
Bottom LineExplosive playmaker lacking requisite size for the pro game. Was slowed by an ankle injury early and did not return to junior form until late in senior season. Can make an immediate impact in the return game and add value as a multipurpose threat. Long-term durability is greatest concern given tiny frame.
My take: this is Payton's pick, if I ever saw one. The kid can fly, and while the scouting report on him indicates weakness and frailty, that's only partially true. He is slippery, so he doesn't have to break tackles and be a pound the rock type of guy. He's a poor man's Tavon Austin, if I had to compare him to a player right now. His presence would be felt immediately on returns and has game-breaking speed, allowing him to be at worst a decoy in the Saints offense. And we all know Sean Patyon loves decoys. Right, Reggie?
Round 6, Overall Pick 186:
Devekeyan "Dede" Lattimore, Inside Linebacker, Univeristy of South Carolina
6'0", 237 lbs
StrengthsGood eyes and instincts -- diagnoses quickly. Effective run defender between the tackles. Physical, aggressive tackler. Football smart and a vocal leader. Carries a swagger and plays with an attitude. Has special-teams experience. Durable four-year starter.
WeaknessesLacks ideal height and length. Could stand to spend more time in the weight room. Average athletic ability. Short stepper. Tight movement. Negated when blockers get their hands on him. Can be a step late to the edge. Deficient in coverage with limited range. Needs to be managed closely -- can be undisciplined away from the field.
Bottom LineTightly wound, inconsistent, two-down Mike linebacker who projects as a backup inside in a 3-4, though he will have to prove his worth on special teams to last.
My take: another depth selection here, this time for the linebacking corps. Lattimore would have to earn his spot on the squad with a strong series of OTAs, Training Camp, and Preseason games, but I've taken riskier bets than wagering he would make the roster. Even then, he might only be Special Teams fodder. He brings along good durability and intelligence, while not having perfect measurables. The Saints took a flyer on him, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him fall into the Seventh Round, or even into the realm of the undrafted.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below! All input is appreciated, and any tips on writing/formatting/etc would be doubly appreciated (this is my first CSC post, for whatever that's worth...).