In the perpetual carousel of draft mockery that colors the Spring NFL offseason, proud, oft assuming mavens of college stock and team need (or sometimes just fancy) flood the web with combinatorial madness. Check out the below up-to-date pie chart of Saints mocks compiled by SB Nation's Adam Stites (some of you may have already seen these).
Five guys across four positions - not accounting for a fifth (20.6%) of what else has been mocked to the Saints at 12th overall. I've seen Memphis' Paxton Lynch, Alabama's Jarran Reed, and Clemson's Kevin Dodd, among others.
But, I digress.
Ostensibly a more objective approach to creating a mock draft, ESPN pundit Todd McShay put out his 3-round "Grade A" mock draft today, in which he provides the following premise and ground rules -
I play general manager for every team.
1. At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I won't pass on a player at No. 4 just because I like the team better at No. 5.
2. No trades unless they're already done. I try to address team needs, but like the draft, value can supersede need.
3. Again: I'm not projecting. It's more a look at where I see value up and down the board.
Basically, Todd McShay's take on an objective-ish mock with his own subjective flair ("where I see value"). Let's see who he chose for the Saints.
Round 1(12): Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
- Love it. Rankins is the first DT off the board so, per his own rules, I'll hazard McShay's favorite interior defensive lineman. Curiously, the only edge defenders taken to this point (a position which is arguably of utmost priority) were, in order: DeForest Buckner (San Diego Chargers), Joey Bosa (Baltimore Ravens), and Leonard Floyd (Chicago Bears). Shaq Lawson, representing 15.7% of the Saints first pick in mocks surveyed, is selected right after us by the Miami Dolphins.
- Andrus Peat's former teammate and, frankly, a move I could totally see the Saints making here. The 6'4 312 pound senior is CBS Sports 3rd ranked guard (behind Kansas State's Cody Whitehair and LSU's Vadal Alexander) and he's projected to be picked in the 2nd round. McShay doesn't have Alexander being selected anywhere in the top 3, and has Whitehair falling a spot behind us, number 48, to the Indianapolis Colts.
- Despite the risk (late season-ending knee injury) and realistic probability that Smith will not play a snap in 2016, this would be a huge value, albeit speculative, selection in the 3rd round. Prior to his injury and subsequent news of how bad it was, Smith was the debated best linebacker in his class. The benefits of a sideline to sideline guy like Smith far outweigh the risks methinks.