NFL Mock Draft season is almost over, which is reason enough for fans to rejoice. Arguably, they’re a necessary evil in this day and age, as it helps pass the time until New Orleans Saints football returns. However, we’re just days away from finding out what the Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and Jeff Ireland hydra have up their sleeves.
It goes without saying, trying to predict what a team will do in December/January before free agency hasn’t even happened is just utterly ridiculous. Also — doing so many that you hope to hit on at least one from the ten you did, well. In the early stages, the goal is to familiarize you with the prospect that’s selected more than anything.
At any rate, let’s look at my one and only 7-round mock draft.
Disclaimer: Picks are made with all original picks in mind. With that being said, my ultimate belief is that the Saints trade up and only walk away from the draft with 4-5 picks. Ideally, I see New Orleans trading into the 2nd Round and possibly into the 3rd Round by packaging lower picks, a potential player, and dipping into 2019’s cookie jar.
Last Year’s Mock Picks
- Round One, Pick 11: Marshon Lattimore, Marshon Lattimore, Reuben Foster, Derek Barnett
- Round One, Pick 32: Zach Cunningham, Taco Charlton
- Round Two, Pick 42: Charles Harris, Alvin Kamara, Carl Lawson, Zach Cunningham
- Round Three, Pick 76: Carlos Henderson, Carlos Henderson, Kevin King, Jamaal Williams
- Round Four, Pick 103: Jake Butt, Ethan Pocic, Jeremy McNichols (118th), Marquez White (118th)
- Round Six, Pick 196: Elijah McGuire, Keionta Davis, Trent Taylor, Eric Saubert
- Round Seven, Pick 229: Jerry Ugowke, Hardy Nickerson Jr., Tashawn Bower, Jordan Morgan
Round One, 27th Overall: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Big Board: Will Hernandez (UTEP), James Daniels (Iowa), Courtland Sutton (SMU), D.J. Moore (Maryland), Marcus Davenport (UTSA), Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State), Rashaan Evans (Alabama)
Needless to say, there were plenty of appealing options for the Saints when it came time to select a player. Is this really what they face at 27th? Perhaps. When I think of pressing needs, linebacker stands out the most to me here. For starters, Rashaan Evans has played all three spots (Mike-Will-Sam) in college. That versatility is something the Saints covet, and where I’d project Evans to fit is at weak side linebacker competing with Alex Anzalone. Even if Evans doesn’t come in and start, he could offer tremendous depth and upside with special teams work. In college, Evans showed that he can cover, work against the run, and get after the passer effectively. He should be a Day 1 selection.
Round Three, 91st Overall: Tim Settle, DL, Virginia Tech
Just the other day, I was talking about how overlooked getting a defensive lineman was for the Saints. Enter Tim Settle from Virginia Tech, who is an underclassman with a ton of potential. Settle offers a nasty streak while rushing the passer, and a perfect pairing for him would be Ryan Nielsen. Settle cut down his weight from 360 to 329 pounds, which shows some personal responsibility that’s admirable. He has a bit more beef to him than the likes of Tyeler Davison (who is in a contract year) and the recently departed Nick Fairley, but can align himself at several spots along the interior line.
Round Four, 127th Overall: Will Richardson, OT, NC State
New Orleans has also expressed a desire to get a versatile sixth offensive lineman, and it makes sense with Senio Kelemete out of the picture now. Will Richardson could be one such animal to consider replacing him. The 6-foot-6, 306-pound NC State product projects as a guard by many, but is no stranger to playing tackle. Richardson, like any other potential player selected by the Saints, will have to work his way onto the roster, but it could pay off tremendously. Ryan Nielsen might know a thing or two about how Richardson could fit with the team, and the off-the-field incidents don’t seem like something that would carry over to the next level.
Round Five, 147th Overall: Damon Webb, S, Ohio State
The Ohio State pipeline has worked out well for the Saints lately, and there’s somewhat of a need in the secondary for an additional safety. New Orleans did add Kurt Coleman through free agency, but lost Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush, which in turn has them with Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams in addition to Chris Banjo as the returning guys. Realistically, Webb may not last this long in the draft with his rising stock, but there’s certainly a lot of desirable traits and qualities he brings to his game. Webb was converted from cornerback to safety in 2016, and would likely make his mark as a free safety on the next level by making an impact on special teams. He’s an exciting prospect, to say the very least, and could help the Saints in more ways than one.
Round Five, 164th Overall: Kylie Fitts, EDGE, Utah
The Saints need an edge presence, as Sean Payton has stated on more than one occasion that it’s a “must”. Reading into that, where they address it is anyone’s guess. Bringing back Alex Okafor was a smart move, and Trey Hendrickson should have more of an impact in his second season. Kylie Fitts, who is one of the many prospects who have met with the team, is one of the risk/reward picks of the draft. He has extreme concerns when it comes to his durability, but the tape he has put out suggests that he could be a very effective pass rusher working as part of a rotation. That screams Saints to me, and could ultimately be one of those “redshirt specials”.
Round Six, 189th Overall: Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan
Despite what national analysts project, taking a tight end at 27th overall doesn’t seem desirable for the Saints. With Benjamin Watson and Coby Fleener likely being the top threats at tight end with Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanwanui also in the mix, the team could afford to take a prospect like Tyler Conklin. For starters, he has that now overplayed basketball background that still has some desire in today’s NFL. Conklin helped his case for being drafted at his Pro Day, and could eventually evolve into something special on a team that’s willing to not throw him immediately to the fire.
Round Six, 201st Overall: Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
Wide receiver may not be an immediate need for the Saints, but should they keep all of their picks and Daurice Fountain is on the board on Day 3, it’s easy to make a case for drafting him. The East-West Shrine Game helped put him more on the map, and his Pro Day also boosted his stock, posting a 4.46 40-yard dash and 42.5-inch vertical with 27 teams reportedly in attendance. He displays some real playmaking ability and explosion off the snap.
Round Seven, 245th Overall: Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
It’s hard to imagine the Saints escaping a draft without getting at least one cornerback. While it seems their top trio is set in stone with Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley on the outside and Patrick Robinson in the slot, the depth behind them is certainly interesting. P.J. Williams is in a contract year, and second-year players Justin Hardee and Arthur Maulet will undoubtedly look to have more of a role in 2018. Local Tulane prospect Parry Nickerson had a big draw at Pro Day, and his blazing 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine is extremely desirable, which could and should have him off the board long before the seventh round.