Most fans of the New Orleans Saints, myself included, believed the Saints would add a wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft at some point during the draft’s first two days. Not only did this not happen, the Saints waited until the 7th Round before selecting South Alabama wideout Kawaan Baker with the 255th overall selection.
After losing Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason as a suspected cap casualty to the Buffalo Bills, and with only a handful of unproven youngsters and/or undrafted free agents at the position, the Saints still need to bring help to Michael Thomas in the wide receiver room. Deonte Harris is indeed a Pro Bowl-caliber return specialist, but his work as a wide receiver is still limited. Tre’Quan Smith has failed to fully live up to his potential, and names like Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Marquez Callaway, and Juwan Johnson are far from household names.
That’s why Todd McShay has the New Orleans Saints adding a wide receiver in the first round of his first 2022 mock draft for ESPN (Insider required):
George Pickens, WR, Georgia*
Despite it being a big need, the Saints waited until Round 7 to draft a receiver last week (Kawaan Baker). Their current WR depth chart beyond Michael Thomas has Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway in starting roles, and regardless of who the quarterback is, the Saints need receiving help. Pickens is a 6-foot-3 receiver with 14 TDs over the past two seasons. He tore his ACL in March, but he is still a top receiver in the class and could return late in the season for a final draft push.
It’s hard to fault the pick, and the Saints could easily draft a receiver like Pickens next season depending on who leaves - and who is added - in free agency next year. But for those curious, McShay has the Saints drafting 19th overall, meaning they finish the 2021 season roughly in the middle of the pack, with something like a 9-8 or 8-9 record.
McShay has the division rival Atlanta Falcons drafting 12th overall, meaning the Falcons are expected to finish with an even worse record than the Saints, despite adding yet another first round pick to the offense in Florida TE Kyle Pitts. The Carolina Panthers are expected to finish even worse, drafting 6th overall after selecting 8th overall this past season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to draft 31st overall in this mock, one spot behind the perceived Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
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