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What experts are saying about the Saints in final 2017 mock draft roundup

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Opinions are still split, but focus is narrowing as we get nearer to the opening of the 2017 NFL Draft.

TAMPA, FL - Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) takes a breather between plays during the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game against the Clemson Tigers at Raymond James Stadium.
TAMPA, FL - Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) takes a breather between plays during the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game against the Clemson Tigers at Raymond James Stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Draft day is here! Finally! After months of research and speculation, you’ll all get to see firsthand how wrong I and everyone else have been in the endless parade of mock draft.

But we still have a few hours, and writers around the country are submitting their final takes on the draft’s first round before everyone gets stood up by the real thing.

However, some reporters are more accurate than others. The good people over at the Huddle Report score mock drafts from major media outlets every year, and have presented us a good idea at which writers are consistently on-the-mark. The Huddle Report’s scoring rewards prospects mocked to the first round with one point, and correct prospect-team matches with two points - so a total 64 points can be scored. Here’s their full results.

So I’ve done the logical thing and tracked down the New Orleans Saints first round picks from each of the top twelve scorers’ mock drafts. I chose the first twelve because they scored an average of 39 points or better the last five years, with the following guys listed seeing greater deviations in their average scores.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Temple Owls linebacker Haason Reddick (7) sacks Stony Brook Seawolves quarterback Joe Carbone (10) at Lincoln Financial Field.
PHILADELPHIA, PA - Temple Owls linebacker Haason Reddick (7) sacks Stony Brook Seawolves quarterback Joe Carbone (10) at Lincoln Financial Field.
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
  1. The most-accurate forecaster of the last five years has been Jason Boris (44.4) of the Times News PA. He envisions the Saints selecting super-athletic Temple Owls linebacker Haason Reddick with the 11th overall pick, and bolstering the secondary with LSU Tigers cornerback Tre’Davious White at the 32nd selection.
  2. The next top-rated mock drafter is Forrest Long (43.2) of Scout.com’s fantasy football coverage, who agrees with Boris on White being picked 32nd overall. However, he leans towards getting Tennessee Volunteers pass rusher Derek Barnett with the Saints’ first pick.
  3. Ben Standig (42.0) of CSN Mid-Atlantic out of Washington, D.C. has put out a monstrous two-round slideshow. He also picked Reddick with the Saints’ first selection, and doubled back later on with a defensive back: Washington Huskies star Kevin King. Standig also connected the Saints to Houston Cougars outside linebacker Tyus Bowser in the second round.
  4. Brad Clark (41.0) of NFL’s Future published his final mock draft at FanSpeak.com, and envisions the Saints going with Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster at the 11th pick. Clark is also on board with White at 32; so far, that’s the most-popular selection.
  5. NFL Network’s draft guru Mike Mayock (40.8) broadcast his live final mock draft last night and it has since been published all over the internet, most notably at Bleacher Report. Mayock likes the Saints to get Missouri Tigers star pass rusher Charles Harris at 11 and trade out of the first round at 32 to get more picks.
  6. The Milwaukee Journal entinel’s Bob McGinn (40.6) has done good work recently, scoring 42 and 41 points in each of the last two years. He projects the Saints to get Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey with their first choice (an increasingly-popular name to connect to the Saints this week among local and national reporters), and find Drew Brees’ heir-apparent in Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson at the end of the first round.
  7. Bleacher Report boasts a stable of draft analysts, and Ryan McCrystal (40.0) is their most highly-rated here. He has chosen Alabama’s Reuben Foster for the Saints’ 11th pick and suggests a new face, Washington wideout John Ross (he of the 4.22-second 40-yard dash) at the 32nd pick to replace Brandin Cooks.
  8. Mike Loyko (40.0) is the editor of NEPatriotsDraft.com, and a great talent evaluator in his own right. He joins the growing chorus signalling Humphrey at 11, but envisions UCLA Bruins pass rusher Takkarist McKinley with the last pick of the first round.
  9. Brian Philpot (39.6) of The Football Hub considers an elite prospect slipping to the Saints’ first pick: Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. This is the first time Allen has been connected to the Saints by this list of experts, and there are questions about his fit along a defensive front including Cameron Jordan, Nick Fairley, and Sheldon Rankins. But Allen is an awesome talent the Saints would be lucky to have. At the 32nd pick, Philpot sees the Saints targeting USC Trojans all-purpose star Adoree’ Jackson, who is a good cornerback with some coachable issues but can make an explosive impact as a special teams returner.
  10. The Huddle Report lists “Draft Team @ NFL Fans.com (39.4)”, but I can’t find anything about them on Google. So in lieu of those picks, I’ll offer the Huddle Report’s own suggestions from host draftniks Robby Esch and Drew Boylhart. Both writers agree on USC’s Jackson (who moonlights at wide receiver) being the pick at 32, but Esch prefers Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the Saints’ earlier pick. On the other hand, Boylhart believes Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker may slip to the Saints’ 11th overall selection.
  11. Doug Martz (39.2) of Draft Board Guru continues the theme of the Saints’ attraction to Alabama defensive prospects, which makes sense considering they fielded college football’s best defense. He likes Foster’s fit at linebacker at 11, and is indicates that Humphrey, the violent cornerback, may be available at 32.
  12. Walt Deptula (39.0), a sports radio host at WCCP covering Clemson Athletics, is the second mock drafter to throw Mizzou’s Harris into the arena at 11. He also believes USC’s Jackson can make an impact at the 32nd pick.
COLLEGE STATION, TX - Tennessee Volunteers pass rusher Derek Barnett (9) celebrates a sack against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field.
COLLEGE STATION, TX - Tennessee Volunteers pass rusher Derek Barnett (9) celebrates a sack against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field.
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

I’ll round this out with some takes from the local scene and around the country:

  • NOLA.com beat writer Herbie Teope continues pounding the table for Tennessee’s Barnett, who collected more college sacks in three years (32) than the Saints managed last season as a team (30). Teope also suggests Texas Tech Red Raiders passer Patrick Mahomes as Brees’ understudy.
  • Teope’s colleague Larry Holder is in lockstep with Barnett being the pick at 11, but echoes the national talk on LSU’s hometown hero Tre White being the pick to close out the first round.
  • The Advocate’s dynamic duo, Joel Erickson and Nick Underhill, collaborated on a live mock draft and came away with Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Mizzou’s Harris.
  • WWL contributing writer Ralph Malbrough admitted that this offseason may not lead to success, but it’s been the most fun fans have had in a decade. That’s echoed in his picks, which include Reddick at 11 (noticing a pattern?) and a trade down for Kansas State Wildcats playmaker Jordan Willis.
  • Over at Who Dat Dish, Roy Anderson rejuvenated the defensive backfield with Lattimore and followed up with Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu.
  • SaintsNews.net columnist Barry Hirstius has been vocal in his support of Temple linebacker Haason Reddick at the 11th pick, but throws a curve ball with Auburn Tigers sack specialist Carl Lawson (10 sacks in 12 games last year, tied for third in the SEC).
  • Canal Street Chronicles’ own Bob Rose is on board with Temple linebacker Haason Reddick at 11, and he loves the fit of Washington’s corner Kevin King at 32.
  • NFL.com’s collection of draft analysts seem to have zeroed in on a few selections. Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah is in on Foster and Watson, while longtime general manager Charley Casserley projects Humphrey and thinks the Saints may trade out of the 32nd overall pick. Site analyst Lance Zierlein also likes Humphrey at 11, and envisions New Orleans going quarterback at 32 with Watson. NFL Media’s Bucky Brooks picks Barnett and Jackson. NFL.com’s college football writer Chad Reuter is also here for Barnett at 11, but brings a new name to the table with Florida Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis.
PASADENA, CA - USC Trojans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (2) celebrates an epic win over the Penn State Nittany Lions to clinch the 2017 Rose Bowl Game.
PASADENA, CA - USC Trojans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (2) celebrates an epic win over the Penn State Nittany Lions to clinch the 2017 Rose Bowl Game.
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

There’s obviously hundreds of more takes out there, but 25 mock drafts is a good number to round off with. A couple of observations before we’re through:

  • The most popular picks at 11th overall among those surveyed were linebacker Haason Reddick (5 selections), defensive end Derek Barnett (5), linebacker Reuben Foster (4), cornerback Marlon Humphrey (4), defensive end Charles Harris (2), and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (2).
  • The most-common selections at 32nd overall were cornerback Tre’Davious White (4), cornerback/kick returner Adoree’ Jackson (4), cornerback Kevin King (3), quarterback Deshaun Watson (3), cornerback Marlon Humphrey (2), or a trade out of the first round (2).
  • Humphrey and Harris were the only two draft prospects to be picked at both spots. After the first seven or eight elite prospects, this draft class levels out in a hurry. Reports I’ve heard from have as many as 30 players with similar “mid-first round to early second round” grades.
  • No prospect was selected as frequently as Humphrey, who was connected to the Saints in 6 of 25 mock drafts (four times at the 11th pick, twice at 32nd). New Orleans Advocate writer Nick Underhill also picked Humphrey in the newspaper’s print edition this week.
  • The prospects in these mock drafts were overwhelmingly on the defensive side of the ball (15 of 19) but the writers did consider upgrades on offense to be possible (4 of 19).

Thanks for reading, I hope this was informative. We’re almost done with this draft fiasco and can relish the dead months until training camp.