It’s mock draft time of the year. I plan on doing another mock after the combine and one more before the draft. So, much can change from now until the draft, but as for now these are the players I believe will fit with the New Orleans Saints and will be available at the time of their picks. If the Saints can hit in this draft the way they have the last two years, then the NFL better watch out.
Since free agency is about a month away, all of these needs could change. I do expect the Saints to fill a couple of needs in free agency, but as for now this draft is just who I think would be good fit for the team as it is now. So without further ado, here it is.
Round 1, Pick 27th: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
What makes Rashaan Evans a great pick for the Saints is because he could be that missing piece for the young defense. Linebacker is definitely one of the top needs for the Saints, and Evans is one of the best in the 2018 Draft. He has nice sideline to sideline speed, plays well against the run, is a smart player, and is very versatile.
Evans has played inside, outside, and rushes the passer all at a high level. He is an explosive linebacker with solid instincts. He is one of the best, if not the best, at shedding blocks in this draft. He can finesse his way through blockers or be physical with them.
Mike Nolan would be ecstatic to have Evans in the linebacker room. Add him with a returning from injury Alex Anzalone and A.J. Klein, and the Saints could have a really good starting linebacker group. Evans’ pass rushing skills are pretty nice too.
His skill set is exactly what the Saints need on defense and could help this young defense grow even more. Hopefully, Evans falls to the Saints. Most analysts have him going between 20-28. If he is there at 27th, I believe the Saints will take him.
Alternate pick: Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
Round 3, Pick 84th: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
I have the Saints trading into the 3rd round to get the athletic tight end to make the offense more dynamic. New Orleans would be trading their 3rd pick in the 2019 draft and picks 155 (5th round) and 175 (6th round). This tight end class has a lot of potential. I could see there being a run on tight ends at the beginning of the second round.
For this mock I’d imagine Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews, and Hayden Hurst already off the board, so the Saints decide to trade back into the 3rd round to get the guy they wanted. As for Gesicki, I’ve seen his athleticism first hand at the Senior Bowl. The kid runs great routes, has solid hands, and amazing hops. I’m really curious to see his combine numbers.
He’s the perfect receiving threat that the Saints need from the tight end position. Also, having a 6-foot-6 tight end that can jump in the red zone would be nice for Drew Brees to have. He would help the offense in so many different ways. However, his blocking skills definitely need to improve.
Luckily with a coach like Dan Campbell teaching him, I think he will get better. I’ve seen multiple mocks having Gesicki go middle of the second round to late in the third round. If he is somehow available early in the third round, I really believe the Saints trade up and get him.
Alternate Pick: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Round 3, Pick 91st: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
Another weapon for the Saints offense is a good thing to have. Miller is one of those hard working players whose work is finally about to pay off. He was a walk-on at Memphis. He redshirted his first year, but then after that he slowly started building up his skills. His last two years at Memphis he became the man, averaging over 1,400 yards both seasons and 16 TDs.
Miller’s route running and ball skills definitely stood out to me the most. If you can run solid routes and get separation, Brees will almost assuredly find you. Miller would compliment Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. perfectly. Miller is a smaller guy listed at 5-foot-11, which is one of the reasons he may fall into the late 3rd round, but he makes up for his height with his leaping ability and separation with route running.
Don’t let his small stature fool you either, as he can be physical at times and will put his nose in there when it comes to run blocking. I’ve seen Miller mocked all over the place from the middle of the second round to the middle of the fourth round. He would be an excellent fit for the Saints offense if he is available when the Saints pick here.
Alternate Pick: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Edge, Oklahoma
Round 4, Pick 123rd: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
The Saints hit a hom erun in last year’s draft getting the Defensive Rookie of the Year in Marshon Lattimore. Opposite of him was Ken Crawley holding his own. It’s been awhile since the Saints had good production out of the cornerback position, but both played well last year. However, you can never have enough good corners.
Dawson would be a nice fit as nickel corner for New Orleans. He’s a physical, scrappy, in your face type of corner. He won’t blow you away with athleticism or speed, but will make up for it with intelligence and physicality. He doesn’t shy away from tackling and is solid in run support. I think he will add that grittiness the Saints are looking for out of their slot corner. The addition of Dawson could be that missing piece for Dennis Allen’s defense. Dawson has been mocked around the third and fourth rounds.
Alternate Pick: Hercules Mata’afa, Edge, Washington State
Round 5, Pick 138th: Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest
Duke Ejiofor is one of the most underrated pass rushers in this upcoming draft. He has a multitude of pass rush moves that he does well. Ejiofor is all about technique when it comes to pass rushing. He’s not going to stand out when it comes to athleticism, but the guy can get to the quarterback.
Ejiofor had 17 sacks in the last two years. He would be a nice addition to the Saints defensive line and give them some much-needed depth. I fully expect the Saints to re-sign Alex Okafor in free agency, and a healthy Okafor with two young pass rushers like Hendrickson and Ejiofor would make for a really good defensive end group.
There is a report out that Ejiofor had his labrum repaired and won’t be able to participate in the combine. This is one of the reasons why he falls to fifth round. If New Orleans somehow gets Ejiofor in the fifth round, he could end up being the steal in the draft.
Alternate Pick: Cedrick Wilson WR, Boise St
Round 6, Pick 187th: Fred Warner, LB, BYU
After getting Evans in the first round, the Saints decide to double up at the linebacker spot and pick Fred Warner. He plays outside linebacker, but I think he could play safety for New Orleans as well. He moves really well for a linebacker and has some solid coverage skills. I’m curious to see how well he does at the combine. I believe he could be one of those guys whose names start popping up more and more and could go earlier than the sixth round.
Adding Warner would give the Saints some versatility and depth at linebacker or safety position depending on where New Orleans thinks he would fit. If Alex Anzalone stays healthy, then I could see Warner working with the safeties some. Either way, the Saints would be lucky to add Warner to the defense.
Alternate Pick: Skai Moore, LB, South Carolina
Round 7, Pick 219th: Joe Ostman, DE, Central Michigan
In the past two years, Joe Ostman has 21 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. He stayed getting pressure on quarterbacks and played well against the run. Even with his high amount of productivity, he was not invited to the combine. He has some really nice pass rushing moves and is very violent with his hands.
Ostman gives good effort and would be worth a seventh round pick in the upcoming draft. He could be a rotational guy on the defensive line. Being a seventh round pick, you most likely have to be good on special teams, which I believe he could do for the Saints.
Alternate Pick: Cole Madison, OT, Washington State