It’s finally here.
After speculating who’s going to do what and where such and such person is going to go, it’s time for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Before it gets here though, let’s do one more bit of speculation.
I made one final mock draft before Thursday night, so let’s take a look at what I was able to get for the New Orleans Saints. This mock was done with New Orleans making no draft trades, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some movement from Mickey Loomis.
29: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
Van Ness may be one of my favorite prospects in this draft class. He spent the 2021 season on the interior before moving to the edge last spring. He never started a game for the Hawkeyes but certainly made an impact with seven sacks in 2022.
Lukas Van Ness may be one of the players with the highest upside in this year's #NFLDraft— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) April 24, 2023
Former HC @ChuckPaganoNFL breaks down LVN's film and illustrates what he'll bring to any defense
Van Ness has a special mixture of speed and strength with a very high football IQ. His ability to play both inside and out makes him super versatile for New Orleans. He also has a ton of upside potential and room for growth.
Watch for the Saints to trade up for him if he’s around in the early 20s just to be sure they land him.
40: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Kincaid had a very strong career in Salt Lake City, finishing the 2022 season with 890 yards and eight touchdowns. For a guy that didn’t get into football until 2017, there’s a lot to like about his game.
Utah TE Dalton Kincaid had himself a day against USC.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) April 22, 2023
Here are all 16 catches (on 16 targets) by Kincaid. pic.twitter.com/P5t5TG4bdv
He has an innate ability to catch the football, which is due in large part to his basketball background (sound familiar?). He’s got a nose for the ball and can compete with the best of them, and I think that hard-nosed mentality will fit well in the Saints offense.
Looking at him, you’d like your tight end to be bigger, but he makes up for his lack of size in his abilities. If you can develop him as a better blocker, you’re looking at a franchise tight end.
71: Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
This kid is just special. Raw ability, high motor, and can downright play football.
After two years at Michigan and barely playing, Charbonnet transferred to UCLA where he had breakout success, rushing for nearly 1400 yards this past season.
There are a handful of RBs I’d be happy with the Saints taking in this year’s draft. Zach Charbonnet is one of them. I think he’d be such a solid Day 2 pick. pic.twitter.com/dnJZlc7jm0— Chris Rosvoglou (@RosvoglouReport) April 24, 2023
He’s a power-back who sees the field incredibly well and doesn’t go down on the first touch. However, he has issues with dancing around the line of scrimmage and lacks breakaway speed, running a 4.53 at the Combine.
I’ve heard people compare him to Elijah Mitchell, and if that’s accurate (which I think it is), the Saints will be in for a treat.
115: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss
The Saints could use another big-bodied receiver. Mingo is that.
The four-year player for the Rebels stands at 6’2”, 225 lbs. His playing time increased year after year, racking up 861 yards and five touchdowns this past season in Oxford.
Don’t sleep on @OleMissFB WR Jonathan Mingo— NFL (@NFL) April 19, 2023
: 2023 #NFLDraft -- Starts Thursday, April 27 on NFLN/ESPN/ABC
: Stream on NFL+ pic.twitter.com/PwyqhGsyrB
Mingo has a great playmaking ability and uses his body to get to the football. Once he has it, he uses a mixture of strength and speed to get away from the defense with run after the catch.
He’s a prospect that struggles with route running and possession away from the body, so that’s a bit of a concern. However, those two things can be developed and there’s plenty of upside for a 4th round flier here on a SEC wideout.
146: Moro Ojomo, DT, Texas
As a Ragin Cajun alum, using this picture hurts a little bit.
Anyways, Ojomo played five years at Texas and started in 30 games. However, he enrolled at 16 so he’s only 21 years old with five years of college football experience.
.@TexasFootball has three senior IDL and right now the one carrying highest grade from NFL scouts is #98 Moro Ojomo. Great rep here showing range down LOS and hand strength to shed block for TFL. @MoroOjomo was very active last week vs. Alabama. 2/3#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️ pic.twitter.com/4JObuJJxQM— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 14, 2022
Ojomo is a long-bodied defensive tackle with a quick first step that can use his speed and power to get to quarterbacks. If there’s any downside to his game, it’s the fact that there’s limited production out of him while he was in Austin.
At best, he’s probably a rotational piece at either tackle or edge rusher, but that’s a role that could greatly benefit the Saints with Cam Jordan running out of time in his career.
165: Jay Ward, S, LSU
Ward has one of the highest potentials in this draft, in my opinion.
He started his career at corner before moving over to safety and was a constant in an ever-changing LSU defense.
Ward delivers powerful hits in the run game, flies to the football, and plays with a high motor. He’s also got a keen eye for play recognition.
Ward reminds me a lot of CJ Gardner-Johnson the swagger and energy, which can sometimes get him in trouble.
Also, his smaller frame for safety makes him more susceptible to injuries, which you saw in his time on the Bayou. If he can alter his game slightly to where he can stay healthier, the versatility he has in the secondary makes him a highly regarded mid-round prospect.
227: Shaka Heyward, LB, Duke
Heyward is a prospect from Duke that has a lot to like, but also concerns.
For starters, he has freakishly long arms at 34 inches which makes him a tackling nightmare. He’s a guy that’s going to use his strength to stop opposing running backs from getting to the second level.
Love the fluidity and ability to play in space from #Duke LB Shaka Heyward. Has snaps in the box, on EDGE in rush downs, can carry TE’s up the seam and guard running backs out of the backfield.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) August 16, 2022
A bit undersized as true ILB, but flexibility to his game.pic.twitter.com/xn7MJ1XU7j
Here is the concern: he struggles with play recognition which catches him flat-footed and gives up big plays, which can be fixed in time. It helps that he’s a special teamer, recording 14 ST tackles at Duke. The Saints could use depth at linebacker, and I think Heyward could be worth the risk.
257: Darrell Luter Jr, CB, South Alabama
Luter may come from a G5 school, but he plays like an SEC corner. He has long arms, good size, and a great level of athleticism. He jams receivers in man coverage and will beat most wideouts in the air for a football.
I came away impressed with South Alabama CB Darrell Luter Jr. He is a competitor, patient, and closes quickly on the ball. A name to definitely track for 2023 season! (@Luter01_ ) pic.twitter.com/z7hGUvSLuL— Robert Cardona (@CARDONAFAM29) March 26, 2022
However, he will be beaten by the faster receivers in the NFL vertically. He’s also tight sometimes, which gives playmakers the chance to break away.
Luter is a solid zone corner right out of the gate that will develop into a starting corner. Plus, with a third-round value grade, you will get him for a steal at the end of Day 3.
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