As the start of the new league year approaches and questions loom about what the New Orleans Saints will do in free agency and in the draft, I decided to draw up a mock off-season for the team. I came up with a list of in-house free agents that I believe the team will re-sign and let walk, players that they should cut and new additions via free agency. For the draft portion, I used Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator which allowed me to react to the board and have the ability to facilitate trades if needed.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Free Agency Predictions
Free agents re-signed:
DT David Onyemata
TE Juwan Johnson (restricted)
WR Michael Thomas (re-negotiated deal)
CB/S P.J. Williams
DT Kentavius Street
DT Malcolm Roach
QB Andy Dalton
Free agents lost:
DE Marcus Davenport
LB Kaden Elliss
WR Jarvis Landry
S J.T. Gray
WR Deonte Harty
RB Mark Ingram
DT Shy Tuttle
Free agent additions:
QB Derek Carr (already signed)
RB Rashaad Penny
DT Taven Bryan
WR Mack Hollins
QB Jameis Winston
The Saints were able to gain and retain depth at defensive tackle which was critical at that position. Adding Rashaad Penny gives the Saints a back with a ton of potential for a low price, only question concerning him is his health. Retaining Michael Thomas and Juwan Johnson were huge for the team as they are in dire need of contested catch targets. We even added Mack Hollins someone who was solid for the Raiders last season and someone Derek Carr is familiar with.
Now on to the draft.
Round 1, Pick 29 - Lukas Van Ness, DE Iowa
We had some great choices specifically at the tight end position with Michael Mayer and Darnell Washington, but re-signing Juwan Johnson allowed me to shift my focus towards the defensive line. Van Ness is a complete package at defensive end. Although he doesn’t have much experience, the guy is built like Hercules and has all the tools you want in a starting caliber defensive end. He also fits the Saints prototype at 6’5 270 pounds. With the departure of Marcus Davenport and Kaden Ellis, and the question mark around Payton Turner, this almost feels like a home run for the Saints.
Round 2, Pick 40 - Jahmyr Gibbs, RB Alabama
This pick was a little tough as defensive tackle Gervon Dexter was on the board but recognizing that Alvin Kamara is going to be suspended for more than a few games next season and being that he’s also getting up there in age, Gibbs seems like the perfect pick. His ability to be a mismatch in the receiving game along with his lightning fast 4.3 speed should give the Saints an explosive weapon that can hold down the fort while Kamara is out and eventually replace him.
Round 3, Pick 71 - Mazi Smith, DT Michigan
I gave this pick a little thought as Luke Musgrave was still on the board, but I could not leave this draft without a defensive tackle selected in the first three rounds. Luckily one that was worth it was still there. Mazi Smith is one of the biggest, strongest players in the draft and will definitely be an asset clogging holes in the run game, which is the type of player the Saints really need right now.
Round 4, Pick 105 (trade with Arizona) -
Jammie Robinson, S/CB Florida State
While I had my eye on CB/S Sydney Brown with this pick, he was sadly taken early in the 4th round. This led me to act quickly and grab the next best option available which was Jammie Robinson CB/S from Florida State. I felt that Robinson wouldn’t be available at pick 115 so I used that pick along with pick 167 and a sixth rounder next year. Robinson can immediately compete at nickel for the Saints with his ability to anticipate receiver breaks and a willingness to play the run.
I unknowingly traded up to pick 105 which happens to be the exact pick where the Saints traded up to get another nickel from a Florida school four years ago. Hopefully they can get the similar production from Robinson.
Round 5, Pick 148 - Michael Wilson, WR Stanford
In round five, I thought about trading back to acquire some more picks, but I really felt that a certain player wouldn’t be there for the taking. That player is Michael Wilson. The Stanford receiver is a crafty player that runs precise routes, has great body control and has high awareness on the field. We saw all of these things at the Senior Bowl which had teams really intrigued as he came in with little buzz. With his 6’1 and 216-pound frame, Wilson gives the Saints a guy that can potentially grow into the contested catch player they’re looking for and someone who can possibly learn under Michael Thomas as well.
Round 7, Pick 229 - Karl Brooks, DT Bowling Green
This was an easy one for me. Brooks has great size at 6’4 and 295 pounds with added production during his time at Bowling Green. He has a ton of moves and sets lineman up very well, which we also witnessed at the Senior Bowl.
Round 7, Pick 260 - McClendon Curtis, G Chattanooga
Curtis is a massive guard at 6’6 and 324 pounds. He uses his size and length very well, keeping consistent gap control in pass protection and can steer defenders where he wants them to go in the run game. I was not only glad that I was able to sneak a lineman in here but one that can truly add value to the team as a depth player.
*If the Saints do in fact make a selection here, this would be the second time in franchise history they would be selecting Mr. Irrelevant of the NFL Draft.