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Erik McCoy the top value pick for the Saints

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The Saints first pick was their best value according to ESPN.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Texas A&M Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve already discussed how the New Orleans Saints had to be smart with their draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. What does that mean exactly? It means the Saints couldn’t afford to reach for a player and miss, so the Saints had to be “safe” relatively speaking, but taking players that were perceived as a good value at their selected spot.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that when ESPN named the best draft value picks for each NFL team (Insider required), it was the Saints’ first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft that made the list:

Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M (Round 2, No. 48 overall)

Pro Bowler Max Unger retired, opening up the center position on the Saints. New Orleans added Nick Easton in free agency, but McCoy is a smart, athletic talent who could push to start. The Saints need to protect 40-year-old Drew Brees inside, and McCoy is a plug-and-play option as my No. 35 prospect in the class. He plays with a lot of balance and awareness, but it’s his athleticism that really pops on tape. He ran a 4.89 40-yard dash at 303 pounds, which was the fastest time at the combine for all offensive linemen.

I have some concerns about his shotgun snapping consistency, but he should develop there over time. And if he doesn’t, McCoy has enough athletic ability, football intelligence and bulk to move to guard. He has some experience there. I also liked the fourth-round grab of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The Florida defensive back is a smooth mover who can play safety or the nickel role, two spots that could use some depth.

A report like this on McCoy obviously helps put minds at ease in WhoDat Nation if the Saints are forced to start McCoy at center earlier than expected.

Between McCoy and the recently-signed Nick Easton, the Saints should be just fine on the offensive line front in 2019. The Saints offensive line was one of the best in 2018, and with the returning Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Larry Warford, and Ryan Ramczyk, there’s no reason to think they’ll decline in 2019.