As we are only a little over a week away from the annual NFL draft, the SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft is coming to a close. Just like the first round, I was left in a good position with a pretty good crop of players available for the taking. Because I went with the offensive side of the ball in the first round, I was prioritizing the defense with my second round selection. However, I made sure to keep my options open just in case a highly-touted weapon or lineman slipped to my pick.
To my surprise, Demarcus Lawrence and Stanley Jean-Baptiste, two players that very well could be taken at the top of the second round, were both left in my lap when I went on the clock. I wanted to take Lawrence, one of the top ranked outside linebackers in the draft, initially because he was the best player available and could find a good home in Rob Ryan's defensive scheme. As you can see, though, I decided to go elsewhere in the end and went with cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who is in my opinion one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated players in the draft. In addition, the Saints are in desperate need for a reliable, large corner opposite of Keenan Lewis that is not a liability to the defense. Here is my summary of my selection.
This pick is a no-brainer. Jean-Baptiste is the prototypical cornerback that teams like the Saints and Seahawks are looking for: long (6'3") yet quick (he timed a 4.45 40-yard dash at his Pro Day). His 41.5 vertical and elite ball skills just add to his trunk of intangibles. While the Cornhusker may have to adjust to the physicality of the NFL, he will flourish in Rob Ryan's press-man schemes. In my opinion, he's one of the more underrated players in the entire draft and would be a steal at this point. I actually had to check myself multiple times just to make sure he hadn't already been taken.
Being able to snag Jean-Baptiste this late in the second round would definitely be a success as he has first-round capabilities. The only thing standing in his way from being taken higher with the likes of Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard is that he is raw due to his limited exposure to the cornerback position. Before being converted to a corner in the middle of his sophomore season at Nebraska, he played wide receiver. Once he made the switch, he never looked back. In a little bit under two and a half years, he totaled seven interceptions (two returned for a touchdown), broke up twenty-one passes, and totaled 72 tackles.
If you would, take a look at Stanley's highlights. The speed that he carries while being a big guy will immediately impress you. Also pay attention to his catching range; his long arms and jumping abilities allow him to win almost every jump ball that he encounters.
If this guy is available come the Saints' second round selection, they should turn in their draft card on a dead sprint. Many have compared him to the likes of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, which is very impressive given that he is relatively inexperienced at the cornerback position. It makes you wonder how good he will be with a year or two of seasoning from Rob Ryan, who is arguably one of the top five defensive coordinators in the league.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste already has all of the characteristics that can't be taught by a coach, size and speed, that are necessary to be successful in the NFL. He even displays good cornerback intelligence, with the ability to read a quarterback and break on the ball if need be. All he needs is to find the right home, and New Orleans would be perfect fit.
What say you, Saints fans?