With many people wondering what exactly the New Orleans Saints will do come draft night, I thought it would be a good time to really put my initial thought process onto paper in my first mock draft of the year. Using The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator, I decided to create more of a realistic scenario for the team rather than naming players to their respective pick slots.
Without further ado, let's get right into it.
(Saints trade picks #19, #161 to Houston for pick #13)
Round 1, Pick #13: Charles Cross - OT Mississippi State
Cross was a guy that I did not envision sliding this far but if this were to happen, I am almost 100% percent certain that the Saints would make this move in a heartbeat. I also did not really think that Houston would take a 5th round pick to move up to 13 but hey, for the sake of the sim let’s roll with it. Charles Cross is an immediate plug and play left tackle who will most certainly fill the void left by All-Pro Terron Armstead who left the team in free agency. Cross is a good athlete and a strong run fitter who also utilizes his arm length not allowing rushers to get inside of his frame. There is no question that this is a slam dunk pick for the Saints.
The thought process in trading with Houston is that Cross probably wouldn’t get past the Ravens at 14 which gave me the immediate green light to make this move.
Round 1, Pick #16: Kenny Pickett - QB Pittsburgh
To me, this is a no brainer. I know everyone talks about how “weak” this quarterback class is but the fact of the matter is that the Saints traded their future first round pick and have Jameis Winston on a two-year deal. So if not now, then when? Not to mention, Winston just came off a torn ACL which limited him to starting in only seven games this past season. After watching the team rotate through their entire QB room, there is not one Saints fan that wants to endure the pain of last season ever again. To speak on the player, Pickett had an amazing 2021 season in which he threw for 42 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions, completing almost 68% of his throws. He also won 11 games his senior season with the argument that he should have won a few more. He was accurate, he was efficient and a great decision maker when it came to throwing the football. He showed us good amount of mobility outside of the pocket as well, an underrated part of his game that is big in our league today.
Just like Saints reporter Nick Underhill tweeted, “Until they’re committed to a QB on a five-year contract they should explore all options,”. Here is one of them.
As far as the draft slot of the selection, my belief is that Pittsburgh (Steelers) would have the opportunity to come up in front of the Saints at their 19th selection, so to prevent that occurrence I made the pick here.
(Saints trade picks #49, #194 to Houston for pick #37)
Round 2, Pick #37: Christian Watson - WR North Dakota State
To make it plain and simple, I really did not believe I would be able to get Watson at pick #49. A guy I believe the Saints would have an eye on at this portion of the draft. His size, speed and explosion really sets himself apart from the other receivers left on the board. There are many teams at the top of the second round that are more than capable of going receiver, which could leave the Saints with little to choose from as far as the grades matching up with the pick at position of need. This gives me all the reason why I don’t think the Saints hesitate to move up for one if they really like a guy. In this case, Watson’s that guy. You get day one starter on the outside to compliment Michael Thomas who gives you instant juice on offense in multiple ways. I also believe Michael Thomas can help him learn in some areas he lacks in such as suddenness and contested catch consistency. Love the player at this pick.
Again, the trade compensation can be questioned a bit but ultimately, the trade went through so cannot complain there.
Round 3, Pick 98: Wan’Dale Robinson - WR Kentucky
The Saints cannot afford to be in the position they were in last season at receiver. Doubling down here gives you some confidence that that won’t happen again. Robinson is a quick, tough slot receiver that plays much bigger than what he is. He has the ability to beat you deep, break you down in the intermediate game and will fight like hell for yards after the catch. At first glance, he reminds you of a Tyler Lockett, Kadarius Toney or even a Deebo Samuel type of player as far as skillset and the way he is utilized. This is something that the Saints lack on offense. Adding Robinson gives you a jolt of finesse right off the bat.
Round 4, Pick 120: Hassan Haskins - RB Michigan
I felt the need to come away from this draft with a running back, not only due to Alvin Kamara’s possible suspension but that Mark Ingram is no longer a sure piece based on his age and remaining years on his deal. At this pick, I was stuck between Michigan’s Hassan Haskins and South Carolina’s ZaQuandre White. Two totally different players and yet they could provide a lot for your team. The deciding factor for me was that we saw the Saints struggle at times last year in not having a back that can force himself through the clogged lanes which is something Haskins does very well. He has great straight line burst and power similar to former Saint Latavius Murray. He also impressed us all by putting up 27 reps in the bench press at the combine furthering the case on his brute strength. Adding the bruising element to the offense again will also take a lot off of Kamara’s shoulder and allow him to stay fresh during the course of the season. Haskins it is.
(Saints trade 2022 5th, 2024 6th to New England for pick #210)
Round 6, Pick 210: Markquese Bell - Safety Florida A&M
I was kind of surprised to see Bell on the board this late in the draft which is part of the reason I chose to jump back into the draft. The HBCU product really wowed people at the combine, running a 4.41 40 and jumping a 36.5 inch vert. His style of play is can speak for his explosiveness as he accelerates through tackles and breaks on throws his way. These traits are exactly what you want in a strong safety. With the Saints current situation at the position there is definitely a place for Bell on this roster with the possibility of really developing into a starting-caliber player in year one.
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