After the New Orleans Saints’ trade with the Philadelphia Eagles which left the Saints with picks 16 and 19 in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay posted a recent two-round mock draft (Insider required) with interesting picks for New Orleans.
Names of interest that went before the Saints were Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson (4th to the New York Jets), Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett (6th to the Carolina Panthers), and Ohio State WR Chris Olave (11th overall to the Washington Commanders). That means the Saints had options with the 16th pick, including Liberty QB Malik Willis and Alabama WR Jameson Williams. McShay went with neither:
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Could the Saints be moving up for a quarterback? Maybe GM Mickey Loomis thinks Malik Willis or one of the other signal-callers can be a long-term answer, and a move like this suggests the possibility. But I get the sense that New Orleans believes it can challenge Tampa Bay for the NFC South right now, and this pick allows the Saints to attack some issues in the trenches.
Left tackle Terron Armstead signed with Miami in free agency, leaving James Hurst in a starting role. Penning is the last of the top-tier tackles on the board, and he makes a lot of sense as Armstead’s replacement in protecting Jameis Winston. The 6-foot-7, 325-pounder is also an outstanding run-blocker, which would help spring ball carrier Alvin Kamara.
This is a more than fair pick for New Orleans considering the hole left on the roster with the departure of Terron Armstead.
In this mock, the Kansas City Chiefs immediately traded with the Los Angeles Chargers at the 17th pick to jump in front of the Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles to grab Alabama WR Jameson Williams, the last of the top-end trio (Williams, Olave, and Wilson) in this year’s class.
This left the Saints without a high-end wide receiver available when the Saints were back on the clock with the 19th pick, so instead, McShay had New Orleans address the defense:
Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
The Saints have a strong run defense, but defensive tackles David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle are only under contract for one more year, and Davis could really be a gamechanger in the middle of the field. He is a space eater who wowed scouts at the combine with a 4.78-second 40-yard dash, 32-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-3 broad jump at 6-foot-6 and 341 pounds. If he can stay at that weight in the NFL, look out.
New Orleans also might be looking at wide receivers in this range. Penn State’s Jahan Dotson fits, and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks would provide a big target outside. I think it’s probably a few picks too early for both, and the second round promises to have plenty of pass-catching options. I don’t think the Saints let Davis get past them here.
McShay mentioned Arkansas WR Treylon Burks as a potential option for New Orleans here, and Burks recently visited New Orleans for a draft visit, so the Saints could very well be interested. Passing on Burks and Jahan Dotson left the Saints with a glaring need at wide receiver in the second round, and McShay has New Orleans finally addressing the position with the 49th pick:
John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
Michael Thomas hasn’t spent much time on the field over the past two seasons, and the Saints’ other pass-catching options don’t excite much. Quarterback Jameis Winston would really benefit from a reliable target on the outside, and Metchie is a polished route runner with soft hands. He quietly had 1,142 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches last season but suffered a knee injury in December.
So all in all, the Saints end up with T Trevor Penning, DT Jordan Davis, and WR John Metchie III. Is that a trio you would be happy with? Another option considering how this board fell would have been QB Malik Willis, WR Jahan Dotson, and T Bernhard Raimann. Another set could have been WR Jameson Williams, DT Jordan Davis, and T Bernhard Raimann. Obviously it’s impossible to know in real time how the board will play out in hindsight, but the New Orleans Saints will have plenty of options in this year’s draft.