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Post-Senior Bowl Week 2022 Saints Mock Draft

Dylan Sanders updates his Senior Bowl mock draft for the New Orleans Saints.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I am now home from Senior Bowl week, able to rest and reset. After the week of practices and games, I certainly have some new opinions on the players I saw, and certainly have some that I’d love to see the New Orleans Saints take in the 2022 NFL Draft. Reminder that this is only Senior Bowl prospects.

Round 1, Pick 18 - IOL Zion Johnson, Boston College

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Zion Johnson is a player that I’ve been a big fan of for quite a while already! He also was a big winner this week, as in most people thought he was the best player in attendance. That is a big barrier to reach over as an offensive lineman, usually not that flashy of a position. He truly did dominate all week and did it work as both a guard and a center. Not only is center a new position for him, but he volunteered to shift over as one due to the Senior Bowl being shorthanded. A huge risk that paid off. Who knows what the Saints offense will look like soon, but given what I’m used to, he would be great in the scheme?

Round 2, Pick 49 - WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Much like Jalen Tolbert who I had in this spot last week, Christian Watson is a huge receiver from a small school who is a crazy athlete. I will assume that is the Saints model for a receiver until I am proven otherwise. Watson had the best week of any receiver in Mobile. He moves like someone his size should not be able to. I just don’t see how anyone in the NFL would be able to cover him for four quarters and not just give up play after play. He followed up his good practice week with a good catch for a 38-yard gain as well. He was frequently used in the run game at NDSU as well. For a 6’4 221 lb. receiver, his scheme and utilization versatility is crazy.

Round 3, Pick 100 - QB Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Malik Willis had the best showing of the week, but I feel as though he is not a realistic option for the Saints. Sam Howell is someone I like a lot, but I took him last week and want to shake it up. Bailey Zappe is someone that I would have stayed away from before seeing him this week, but now I am much more open to the idea. I am not a fan of drafting air raid QBs with inflated stats, but Zappe showed this week that he has legit NFL arm traits. His ball placement this week was very impressive for the most part. He is, however, a pure pocket passer. Depending on who is given the reigns of the Saints offense next year, Zappe could be a great prospect for Saints fans to keep an eye on.

Round 4, Pick 118 - DL Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of these years, my infatuation with UCLA draft prospects will end, but this is not this year. I feel vindicated for being high on him this year after a great week in Mobile for Otito. He really flashed what he could become in the NFL this week in both rush and pass defense. Under Ryan Nielsen’s tutelage Otito could become one of the best defensive linemen in the league, no doubt in my mind.

Round 4, Pick 136 - RB Rachaad White, Arizona State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Saints really enjoy using their running backs in every facet of the offense, and White is no stranger to that challenge. He showcased his vision as a running back and route running as a receiver all week and really impressed me. I also thought he showcased a good burst out of the backfield while also being a smart runner. This week reinforced everything I saw from him on tape, reassuring me that he will be a good back in the NFL.

Round 5, Pick 160 - WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Shakir is not the biggest or fastest receiver in the class, but he is a smart receiver. Something I think the Saints would appreciate mightily. When I say he’s not fast, it’s not meant to represent his whole game. He has great feet and can shake off defenders either at the line of scrimmage or after the catch when running for extra yardage. He is quick and shifty. He played a lot of football at the college level and could contribute quickly. The Saints need skill position players who can play soon after being drafted.

Round 6, Pick 213 - LB D’Marco Jackson, Appalachian State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jackson quickly caught the eye of Ross Jackson, fellow writer/friend of mine, on the first day of practice. After looking back at the practice footage, it is easy to understand why. D’Marco was constantly in the backfield, chasing down players in the middle of the field, making play after play. He played above his size all week. He would at least be a great special teamer, and at worst be a solid rotational linebacker in New Orleans. Those are both things highly regarded by the Saints front office.

Round 7, Pick 234 - S Verone McKinley III, Oregon

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 03 Pac-12 Championship Game - Oregon v Utah Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Verone McKinley was a late add to the roster, so we did not get to see him in the same situations that we got to see the other players. McKinley is a high upside player who had a ton of production in college. He had six interceptions and 77 tackles last season alone. His ball skills are obviously fantastic, but I also like what he brings against the run. I see highly varying opinions on McKinley, but personally I am a fan.


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