Round 1, Pick 27: Rashaan Evans, Linebacker, Alabama
One of the top tier talents in the 2018 draft slides to the Saints with the 27th pick. If the Alabama linebacker is still on the board, then the Saints should sprint the card to podium and don’t turn around. Evans is an every-down linebacker that plays downhill and has good size and strength. Evans would most likely start beside Demario Davis (free agent signing from the New York Jets) and A.J Klein. Evans gives the Saints great versatility as he can play inside and outside linebacker. This pick makes perfect sense for the Saints if Evans falls to them. Due to great free agent signs this offseason, the Saints have put themselves into a situation where they can pick the best possible player — and Rashaan Evans will most likely be the best available.
Round 3, Pick 91: Ian Thomas, Tight End, Indiana
Ian Thomas is a great value pick for the Saints at 91st overall. Thomas is one of the NFL ready tight ends besides 24-year-old Hayden Hurst. He would be an immediate impact and is perfect because the Saints are in win NOW mode with the Drew Brees two-year contract. The Saints thought they were the front runners on Jimmy Graham before Green Bay jumped in with a $10 million contract, but Ian Thomas is a younger and cheaper option and is a very raw talent that Drew Brees and Ben Watson can shape into a very good player in the Saints high powered offense.
Round 4, Pick 127: Arden Key, Edge Rusher, LSU
LSU star defensive end Arden Key takes a long slide to the 4th round where the Saints can’t pass up the talent. NFL analyst Mike Mayock said on Twitter that he could see Arden Key slipping to the 4th or 5th round. Mayock is generally highly reliable with draft predictions.
Mike Mayock thinks LSU DE Arden Key is likely to go in the fourth or fifth round because of off-field concerns.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) April 20, 2018
The Saints have expressed a lot of interest in Arden Key. In a press conference with the LSU media, Key stated, “the Saints are the team that have spent that most time with me”, and even said, “Who Dat”. He is a first or second round talent with too many off field problems. The question is: Is Arden Key one of those players the Saints will pass on due to potential character concerns? His pass rush abilities are very special, but against the run he struggles getting off blocks or creating a push.
His fit with the team would be obvious on passing downs and/or 3rd and long situations. You don’t want Key on the field when the opposing team is running the ball. He had weight problems all season, he’s too light and missed time at LSU because of an undisclosed reason. In the 4th round, the risk-reward factor plays in the Saints favor with his high ceiling.
Round 5, Pick 147: Korey Robertson, Wide Receiver, Southern Miss
Korey Robertson may be the first of two picks from Southern Miss for the Saints. They have spent time with him. Wide receiver is arguably not a need, but a want in the mid rounds. Robertson wins 50/50 balls and has very good hands. His route tree is okay, but needs work on a few things which he can definitely improve. Robertson’s solid hands can help him get on the field on 3rd down for his reliability.
Round 5, Pick 164: Parry Nickerson, Cornerback, Tulane
A hometown kid stays in his home state of Louisiana. Parry Nickerson is scrappy undersized corner that possesses one of the best ball skills in this year’s draft. His best NFL fit is in the slot. Nickerson could play behind veteran Patrick Robinson and learn the position until Robinson calls it quits. Nickerson could potentially fill that void. He could be a day one special teams animal alongside Justin Hardee.
Round 6, Pick 189: Orlando Brown, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma
Sean Payton called offensive line a “must” this week. Orlando Brown protected Baker Mayfield in college at Oklahoma, and with the injury bug biting Terron Armstead last season, he could provide depth on the line. Brown is definitely a project, as he had awful combine numbers and doesn’t have good hands. His size and strength is elite, however, and gives that depth with Jermon Bushrod. A day three pick with potential.
Round 6, Pick 201: Damon Webb, Safety, Ohio State
A former cornerback converted to now safety with great ball skills, not the best size and strength. A depth player that could make the Saints or any other team with special teams ability. What’s a Saints draft without an Ohio State player?
Round 7, Pick 245: Ito Smith, Running Back, Southern Miss
Mark Ingram is in the last year on his contract and signed a new agent recently. The Saints could still extend or re-sign him, but as insurance at the running back position, Ito Smith has the ability to be a day three gem. He’s no Mark Ingram, but he compares more to Alvin Kamara with his size and strength. Questions are ball security and the small school talent. Smith won’t be a RB1, but could compete with Trey Edmunds and Daniel Lasco for the Saints running back depth chart.