When asked about how the Saints will differentiate between Defensive Tackle prospects in a deep class heading into the 2016 Draft, Mayock said:
I think what you're going to see happening with that interior defensive line group, and when I've had this discussion with a lot of people, and this is how good it is, okay. You could wait until the third or fourth round this year and get a defensive tackle that in past drafts was a first or second rounder. I mean, I've heard first-round grades on plus or minus 10 to 12 defensive tackles this year from various feeds. So a lot of teams are going to wait until the third or fourth round to get that defensive tackle they need because he's still going to be on the board, and you're going to get a second rounder instead of a fourth rounder...I think if you're a team that needs a defensive tackle, you can go chase some other things first and then circle back in the third or fourth round and get your guy.
When Jahri Evans's release was mentioned and Mayock was asked for specific names of offensive linemen the Saints could target, Mayock was able to recite a laundry list:
...if they're looking at guard, and I just mentioned a couple of the ones I like, Cody Whitehair, for instance, left tackle for Kansas State will kick inside. Vadal Alexander from LSU will kick inside. Germain Ifedi from Texas A&M is a tackle and a guard. I'm starting to lean towards him as a guard, also. I think all three of those guys would make sense in the second round, also. I think Connor McGovern from Missouri, a tackle who I think is kicking inside would make sense in the third round.
So there are a few big take-aways from Mayock's responses. First, he gives a plethora of different names for Saints fans to familiarize themselves with as new potential Saints offensive linemen. Second, and the bigger point, is the last part of the first answer. The Saints, in need of both a Guard (or two) and a Defensive Tackle, could get high value players at both positions outside of the first round. According to Mayock, in an ideal world, the Saints could draft a second-round caliber Defensive Tackle as late as the FOURTH ROUND of the Draft. Realistically, a third round selection is more likely for a Defensive Tackle.
In the second round, there are plenty of Guards the Saints could look at who should still all be on the board. With Rounds 2 & 3 available to find high-value players at two specific positions of the need, the Saints can "chase" the best player on the board with their first round selection at a different position of need: notably Defensive End or Outside Linebacker.
So Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton... I hope you are frequent readers of Canal Street Chronicles. Here is your draft plan strategy for the first three rounds:
- Best Player on the Board at DE or OLB
- Defensive Tackle
Who will be the best player by the time the Saints are on the clock in the first round? Maybe it's OLB Noah Spence. Maybe it's DE Shaq Lawson. Maybe in fact it is a DT in A'Shawn Robinson. No matter what, it looks like the Saints aren't pigeon-holed into drafting either a Defensive Tackle or Guard in the first round. The Saints can instead choose to pick the best player on the board with that selection, whether that player is a Defensive Tackle, End, or pass-rushing Outside Linebacker. Let's just hope the Saints hit a home run with their first round pick, no matter who it is.