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New Orleans Saints 2019 mock draft - 1st edition

Let the insanity begin!

NFL: NFL Draft Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft is just 26 days away, and as it currently stands the New Orleans Saints have six picks over the three day event. New Orleans only has one pick in the first two days and three rounds however, a 2nd round selection, the 62nd overall pick. The Saints are without selections in the 1st round (traded to the Packers last spring in a deal to move up in last year's draft to select defensive end Marcus Davenport), 3rd round (dealt to the Jets for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater), and 4th round (traded to the Giants to obtain cornerback Eli Apple). Unless things change, this will be the latest that the Saints have made their first draft selection since 2012, when they picked defensive tackle Akiem Hicks from Regina College in Canada with a 3rd round pick at 86th overall.

New Orleans has had quite a bit of success in finding talent in the late rounds of the draft, and must repeat that success to continue to maintain one of the most talented rosters in the league. Here is my first Saints mock draft of the 2019 offseason

2nd round (#62 overall)

Juan Thornhill, S (Virginia)

NCAA Football: Virginia at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Williams regressed a bit last season after a standout rookie campaign, and Vonn Bell is in a contract year. Thornhill is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the draft. He started his career as a cornerback with the Cavaliers before moving full-time to safety in his final season. A good athlete who showed playmaking skills in college, Thornhill would add both versatility and coverage ability to the young Saints secondary, as well as a potential replacement for either Williams or Bell if needed by 2020.

5th round (#168 overall)

Josh Oliver, TE (San Jose St.)

AutoNation Cure Bowl - Georgia State v San Jose State Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Saints addressed their most glaring team need when they signed free agent tight end Jared Cook, but could set up the spot for the future by adding another from a deep draft class at the position. Extremely athletic but raw, Oliver can threaten defenses as a receiver in passing situations while he learns the nuances of the tight end position and develops his all-around game. The statistical production of the New Orleans tight ends in 2018 was abysmal, and the addition of Cook and Oliver would give them an athletic advantage against many defenses throughout the league.

5th round (#177 overall - from Jets)

Jamal Davis II, EDGE (Akron)

Akron v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

The Saints hope that 2017 3rd round pick Trey Hendrickson can adequately replace the free agent loss of Alex Okafor. The Saints are already set at the edge with starters Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, but their pursuit of Robert Quinn via trade indicates that the team is looking to add more pass rush along the edge. Davis is a potential small-school draft steal who might actually be drafted early on Day 3. He's an explosive athlete with underrated strength and instinctive pass rush moves. His inexperience in pass coverage as a linebacker likely limits him to just a situational pass rusher early in his career, but he has the physical tools to develop into a dynamic defender.

6th round (#202 overall)

Terry Godwin, WR (Georgia)

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New Orleans has one of the best wideouts in the game in Michael Thomas, but did not get enough production from their other targets. Veterans Ted Ginn Jr. and Cameron Meredith were sidelined much of the year with injury. Rookies Tre'Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood each showed potential, but lacked consistency and are expected to make a big jump in their second seasons.

Godwin was overshadowed by more highly profiled players in Georgia's offense, and struggled with nagging injuries his final year with the Bulldogs. A crisp route runner with above average athleticism and an extra gear in the open field, Godwin could be an immediate contributor out of the slot for Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense.

6th round (#231 overall- from Browns)

Gerald Willis II, DT (Miami Fla.)

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The Saints will be without tackle Sheldon Rankins until midseason while he recovers from a torn Achilles, and may also be missing David Onyemata to start the year as he faces a possible league suspension. New Orleans added Malcom Brown and Mario Edwards Jr. in free agency, but could look to add another interior presence. Willis, a native of New Orleans, has Day 2 draft ability but is littered with character concerns that will likely to cause him to drop. He was among the nation’s leaders in tackles for loss last season with the Hurricanes and could be a force if he can put maturity red flags behind him.

7th round (#244 overall)

Will Hills, RB (Slippery Rock)

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The Saints expect Latavius Murray to be an adequate replacement for the free agent departure of Mark Ingram, but could look to bolster depth at running back. Historically, the team has had a good bit of success at finding talent at the offensive skill positions late in the draft or even undrafted players, as well as hidden gems from smaller schools. Hills stood out at the Senior Bowl, showing excellent natural instincts as a runner that could push him into early Day 3 or even late Day 2 draft consideration. The lack of top flight college competition and his struggles with injuries early in his collegiate career at Delaware may still push him into the late rounds though, where his strength and cutback abilities could make him a draft steal.