The New Orleans Saints are known to follow the gospel of the Relative Athletic Score, presented to us by the great Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb). They always draft great athletes, which is why combine week is a big deal for Saints fans. Let’s take a look at a mock draft where everyone drafted was a top performer at the 2022 NFL Combine.
Kansas City Chiefs receive
- Pick 1.18
New Orleans Saints receive
- Pick 1.30
- Pick 3.94
- Pick 4.133
Round 1, Pick 30 - QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinati
Relative Athletic Score: 9.79
The Saints find a QB that fits their mold and also allows them to trade back and gain more picks to fill out their roster with rookie contracts. Desmond Ridder is a divisive player. Teams are known to be high on him, and draft twitter seems to hate him. I’d probably lean closer to the NFL teams, I’ve been a fan of his for a while. His play on the field has certainly been up and down, you can’t argue that. Outside of that he’s a competitor, great leader, winner, and as confirmed by the combine he’s a great athlete. I think he has all of the tools to win, especially in the system expected to be run by Pete Carmichael. Getting him at 30 is important, you gain that important fifth-year option to allow him time to grow and learn in the QB room. I don’t think you draft him with the intention of starting him in year one. This is likely a future where Jameis Winston signs elsewhere, but you can still get another veteran on the market while Ridder sits to begin his career.
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder will appeal to NFL teams that value the following:— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 23, 2022
* winners/culture-changers who’ve proven they can elevate a program
* consistently improved
* dual-threats who will likely run 4.4’s at Combine
* easy passers who make NFL throws like this pic.twitter.com/nb2LPt6k5l
Round 2, Pick 49 - WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
Relative Athletic Score: 9.98
Christian Watson has been a sharp riser over the past couple of months. His performance at the combine may push him out of the Saints scopes at 49, but I think it’s the perfect spot for him. He’s obviously a great athlete, but he also has great size and ball skills at the catch. He was used all over the place at NDSU, just using his athleticism to overpower his competition, despite not having the craziest numbers. He had a great Senior Bowl to along with a great combine and has proven himself as someone to watch over the next month and a half until the draft.
Christian Watson will be one of the biggest steals of the draft.— Speak Up (@_SpeakU) February 28, 2022
Outstanding acceleration off the LOS. Smooth route runner. Fluid in and out of his breaks.
Round 3, Pick 94 - OL Cole Strange, Chattanooga
Relative Athletic Score: 9.94
The Saints address their offensive line, but not at the spot that you expect. Strange was one of the first players to catch my eye at the Senior Bowl, I was a huge fan of his game. He was a shocker there and a shocker at the combine. I knew he’d score well, but I would be lying if I said I expected it to be THIS good. I think he would be a great guard for this offensive line. He has a high motor on film and is already solid in both pass and run protection. He might not start week one, but with inconsistent play at the position last year it’s not out of the question.
Cole Strange having C/G versatility is huge. Will compete for a starting job somewhere next year.— WesBo (@Wes_Bo_) March 8, 2022
Round 3, Pick 100 - LB Brandon Smith, Penn State
Relative Athletic Score: 9.99
Brandon Smith offered one of the best combines by an off-ball linebacker of all time. His size and athleticism combination is crazy. This added on with his film makes him super intriguing. He is not needed on day one for the Saints room, which is good, but he adds a ton of pure talent to the room. He is raw, and can sit while the older linebackers in New Orleans grow out of the NFL.
#PennState LB Brandon Smith is an underclassman that should gain steam during the draft process.— Eric Galko (@EricGalko) February 16, 2022
Former top recruit, plus athlete at around 6'3, plays multiple LB alignments, and can make plays like this in coverage.
Should test well at the #NFLCombine and be in Top-100 mix pic.twitter.com/ER4hYTckQ9
Round 4, Pick 118 - WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
Relative Athletic Score: 9.62
The Saints are being very active in the WR market this off-season, but don’t have a ton of money to spend on free agents. The logical conclusion is to have them add two wideouts in the draft. Desmond Ridder’s college teammate almost makes more sense for the team than the QB himself. He is big and fast with great hands. People have likened him to Chase Claypool, which would be a great addition for the Saints WR room.
Another rep against press man, Alec Pierce makes it look easy. pic.twitter.com/nLMsMs4grs— Brandon Carwile (@PackerScribe) March 6, 2022
Round 4, Pick 133 - RB Zamir White, Georgia
Relative Athletic Score: 9.82
This one was a big surprise to me. He was the power back for Georgia but scored off the charts for a guy coming off of two ACLs. He was highly touted out of high school, and if healthy would be a great piece in the RB rotation for the Saints. He could be the downhill runner to compliment Alvin Kamara but has the talent to fill in on any down when Kamara isn’t available.
Love this rep from Zamir White.— Ryder McConville (@RyderM25) March 6, 2022
Identifies LB flow and 3 tech instant penetration. Bends the run back and presses the unblocked DB's. He makes the miss with a nice lateral cut.
Shows great body control, contact balance and play strength to finish the run. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/WUkR9Qk0Xs
Round 4, Pick 136 - S JT Woods, Baylor
Relative Athletic Score: 9.87
In a year where the safeties are considered very much a weakness, and it was backed up by lackluster performances by most of the class, JT Woods was very much a standout in Indy. He brings versatility to the safety position, he can certainly play as a strong safety in the NFL. He also has the range and ball-hawk skills to play as a single-high.
JT Woods— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) March 7, 2022
39.5in vert ----
His 40 speed transitions to the tape. Love how he closes in on the ball carrier. pic.twitter.com/kQEiJMSqzw
Round 5, Pick 160 - DL Thomas Booker, Stanford
Relative Athletic Score: 9.81
I was a big fan of his going into the season, and certainly still am, but he didn’t have a world-beating 2021 campaign. Still solid, and showed he has tons of traits for a versatile defensive lineman that fits the New Orleans Saints mold. He is strong enough, obviously explosive, and has an extremely high motor. He could contribute on day one, but with the upside to become an anchor on the inside. Learning from the Saints DL staff and other players could prove to be scary stuff from Booker.
DT | #8 - Thomas Booker, Stanford— Judge Mathes (@JudgeMathes) March 5, 2022
Shrine Bowl standout… isn't flashy, always knows where the play is going. Doesn't let blockers seal him off. Works hard so his teammates can eat.
68 pressures, 11 sacks, and 85 run stops during his college career.pic.twitter.com/XktGqg10YX
Round 6, Pick 213 - TE Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State
Relative Athletic Score: 9.45
Daniel Bellinger is a solid depth piece for the Saints offense, and would be very good situationally when called upon. He probably won’t be the replacement to Trautman, should he not continue to develop, but would be a great compliment. He’s another one who had a great showing in Mobile.
THE DANIEL BELLINGER GAME pic.twitter.com/TrMZ69fuvs— Jon Schaeffer (@jonschaeffer) September 12, 2021
Round 7, Pick 234 - OT Austin Deculus, LSU
Relative Athletic Score: 8.13
Sometimes, the best ability is availability. We have all heard this a bunch, but it holds very much true for the Saints and their OL in year’s past. Deculus has played the most games in the history of the LSU Tigers. His career has had ups and downs, but he is consistently out there. He’s had a good off-season, and has definitely shown flashes during his career. You could find much worse depth in the seventh round.
Three days in a row, LSU Tiger Austin Deculus looks really solid. He plows the road in the run game and his pass pro has been good. pic.twitter.com/HG6v1A6wLm— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) January 31, 2022
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