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Matt’s Mock: 2023 NFL Draft Week

One final look at a mock draft before it’s time for the Saints to make it happen.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Iowa Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Utah Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Mississippi Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

NCAA Football: UL Lafayette at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

Syndication: The Montgomery Advertiser Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

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.

NCAA Football: Duke at North Carolina Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Western Kentucky v South Alabama Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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.

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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