A fascinating 2018 NFL mock draft dropped today from Jonah Tuls of NDT Scouting, one of the premier independent scouting services available. Tuls projected multiple trades throughout his two-round mock draft as the board shook out, and one of them featured the New Orleans Saints dropping out of the first round to recoup two second round picks.
He has the Cleveland Browns motivated moving up to assign UCLA tackle Kolton Miller as protection for their initial first round picks, USC’s Sam Darnold and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. That’s something like a formidable offense.
It’s worth noting that Tuls has the Saints punting on several popular prospects like South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst (picked at 29 by the Jacksonville Jaguars) and Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans (joining the Philadelphia Eagles at 32). Even so, I would be stoked to see the Saints land this added draft capital and spend it on two great prospects.
At 6-6, 250 and running a 4.50 40, Lorenzo Carter is one of the most intriguing projects in this draft class. He's extremely raw, but the upside is potentially there. Versaility at OLB and EDGE rusher is a plus. pic.twitter.com/gZxRnNzsGl— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) March 23, 2018
35. New Orleans Saints: Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia (TRADE – Browns)
The Saints added Cleveland’s 64th pick after trading out of the first round, giving them two picks in the first two rounds after trading up for Alvin Kamara last year. I think Carter has a great shot of landing in the first round, especially to New Orleans if they stay put. He fits what they want in an outside linebacker who can rush and drop back with his athletic prowess.
Carter is one of the greatest athletes in this year’s draft class, and he carries some skills that are ready-made for the NFL in run defense and pass coverage. Georgia’s coaches were never able to reign in his talents as a pass rusher, but given Carter’s all-time great athleticism (running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds) there’s plenty reason to think he can be developed by a pro coaching staff. NDT Scouting’s Joe Marino wrote up a great film study of Carter against Notre Dame last September, which brings us to the Saints other second round pick in this mock:
This is really nice for a 6’5/214 lbs WR. St. Brown’s flashes of fluidity and few wasted steps for a man his size are impressive. #NorrisNotes pic.twitter.com/DRLEnVCEy7— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) March 11, 2018
64. Cleveland Browns: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame (TRADE – Browns)
This is the pick the Saints got from trading down in the first round, and I believe they will use it to get Drew Brees another playmaker. Michael Thomas is a player they move around a lot to get the best matchup, and with a player like Equanimeous St. Brown who can play the X on the outside, that offense just got much harder to contain.
St. Brown is one of the most-fascinating receivers in this draft class thanks to his combination of rare height/weight/speed measurements (timing a 4.48-second 40-yard dash while towering at a hair under 6-foot-5, and weighing just 214-pounds) and unique family background as one of three trilingual sons of a former Mr. Universe. But don’t let that distract you from St. Brown’s sky-high upside - Matt Harmon’s in-depth Reception Perception charting reveals the Notre Dame product to possess elite separation skills while running a complete route tree.
So what do you think? As often as fans wish for the Saints to trade down rather than up, it’s very intriguing to see what that scenario could really look like.