Just last week, ESPN analyst Todd McShay released his take on the New Orleans Saints selections in the first three rounds of the 2016 NFL draft. He took a "Grade A" mock draft approach, in which the following rules apply -
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.
Here's the write up I did on the topic last week in case you're interested. McShay mocked Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins to us in the first, Stanford OG Joshua Garnett in the second, and Notre Dame OLB Jaylon Smith in the third.
Well, today ESPN draft liege Mel Kiper Jr. released his take on the "Grade A " mock draft per his own big board. His rule are precisely the same as McShay's, though he threw in the following caveat -
4. Jaylon Smith: Let's be clear -- he's one of the best players in the draft. But I'm leaving him out because his draft range is all over the place right now based on his medical re-checks. I'll learn more between now and the draft.
Without further ado, let's have a peek at Kiper's picks for the Saints. Picks are Kiper's, analysis/comments are mine.
Round 1(12): William Jackson III, CB, Houston
- WJax aka WJ3 has really emerged very recently in talks as being among the best corners in this class. Pro Football Focus fancies Jackson the best "pure CB" in this group, with Ramsey also projecting to safety. He's tall, has good length and speed, and is very fluid. He's quickly grown on me as a player and, while I personally don't think he'd be the best use of our #12 (considering needs in the front-7), I wouldn't be too incensed by this pick. Besides, with Keenan Lewis coming off of a season lost to injury, Damian Swann facing considerable concussion issues, and P.J. Williams hopefully playing his first season in his second year as a pro (in which he may project well to safety), it would be nice to have a talented corner opposite Delvin Breaux.
- LSU! LSU! Jones had a good 4.59 40 yard dash at the combine before absolutely hammering his pro day (4.38 40, 35.5 inch vertical). He's athletic and has shown flashes of potential, but he needs to get better both in coverage and in diagnosing plays and has had some tackling issues as well. He's only got a year of experience as a starter, but he had 12.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in 2015. He is expected to need more time to be NFL ready than some of his peers in this class, but I find his overall baseline athleticism and potential abilities enticing. The Saints certainly could use more linebackers and, depending on our defensive alignment, Jones would either fit as a 4-3 OLB or a 3-4 ILB.
- Washington, whose name reads like the title of an Ayn Rand book, was part of the stellar Ohio State defense which featured Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, Eli Apple, and Vonn Bell. He was a two year starter who has 17.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks over that time (including 2 forced fumbles). He's got the size and arm length to be disruptive up the middle, though according to his NFL.com draft profile, has some contact balance issues which could limit his ceiling as a defender (and justify his round 3-4 grade). Though PFF compares Washington to Minnesota Vikings DT Sharrif Floyd with the notion that "he's a good player than can be very effective if he puts it all together".