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Draft Talk: Saints positioning themselves to draft BPA at 28.


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Draft Talk: Saints positioning themselves to draft BPA at 28th overall.

 

 

We all knew this offseason the Saints would have to bite the bullet after kicking the can down the road in their quest to remain competitive as long as Drew Brees was under center. Those days are gone and the Saints are moving forward, the first step was to get under the salary cap and say goodbye to a slew of quality football players. Next was to resign whom they could for continuity on the cheap. Thirdly the Saints needed to wait until the wee end of the twilight of free agency and be very specific in their what their approach and targets would be. So far the Saints have done exactly that, adding Armah and Vanett upgrades their run game which I'm figuring they will be more dedicated too now with Brees gone. They are bringing in Cots free agent corner TJ Carrie for a visit after being linked to multiple other free agent veteran corners this offseason. Carrie would be a wise cost effective addition and while it wouldn’t solve the need at corner it would lessen its priority come April’s draft.

 

Just like Saints fans had to come to terms this offseason with the fact that we were going to lose some players that maybe we wish we didn’t have too… we will also have to come to the understanding that not all needs will be filled in one offseason with our cap situation. What the Saints and Saints fans will have to lean on is players already on the roster potentially filling major roles in 2021. Guys like Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Adam Troutman, Cesar Ruiz, Shy Tuttle, Malcolm Roach, Carl Granderson, Zach Baun, Keith Washington Jr. & Blake Gillikin are all likely to see an increase in playing time depending on how the draft falls for the Saints.

 

The Saints currently have 8 selections in the 2021 NFL draft…

Round 1, pick 28

Round 2, pick 60

Round 3, pick 98 (comp for Teddy Bridgewater)

Round 3, pick 105 (comp for Terry Fontenot)

Round 4, pick 133

Round 6, pick 218 (comp for AJ Klein)

Round 7, pick 229 (from Jacksonville in Malcolm Brown trade)

Round 7, pick 255

 

The NFL has announced the Saints will forfeit their 6th round selection in 2022 and be fined $700,000 for their covid violations in 2020.

 

The Saints understand that their salary cap woes aren’t completely fixed and that they basically put a band-aid on a broken leg this offseason. They need an influx of your rookie talent on rookie salaries just like they did in 2017. So look for the Saints to allow the draft to come to them to maximize the value of each pick, I wouldn’t rule out the Saints finally looking to acquire additional picks both in 2021 or 2022 as they look to continue to reset their cap over the next few seasons. The Saints aren’t in a position to be position dependent in the draft, they need to be able to select the best players that fall to them in order to upgrade the roster and that’s exactly what these moves the Saints have been making this off season has been all about and I expect that trend to continue.

 

Looking ahead to the draft… the Saints sit at 28th overall. We always hear Loomis and Payton speak of “their bubble" which is simply a group of players they expect to be available when they go on the clock. The bubble consist of a group of similarly graded prospects at multiple positions the team then chooses from for their selection. The one caveat is if a prospect the Saints have a much higher grade on happens to fall to them that they were not expecting. Marshon Lattimore at 11 and Ryan Ramczyk at 32 were both examples of this back in 2017 when the Saints were able to take advantage of what the draft was giving them as far as value. Look for the Saints to take a similar approach this year. As I run through multiple mock draft scenarios and as I finalize my overall big board, I have come up with my own “Bubble" of prospects I feel will be available to the Saints at 28. I also have a list of prospects I could see falling to the Saints that maybe they didn’t expect. I also have a list of overrated prospects that the Saints should stay away from and I’ll share them with you here…

 

 

 

 

“Da BUBBLE"

 

#1. Jalen Mayfield OL Michigan

As I said before, the Saints aren’t in a position to be picky positional. Mayfield is a stud lineman with big upside and has the versatility the Saints covet. He’d be a great value at 28 overall. The Saints basically have Armstead in a lame duck season and its unknown if they will extend him. Ramczyk will cost the team a ton and can be flipped over to the left side if Armstead is moved. Loomis will also likely look to rid the cap of Andrus Peat contract at some point, maybe as early as 2022. I expect 2020 1st round pick Cesar Ruiz (Mayfield's college teammate) to start at center in 2021 with Eric McCoy sliding to right guard so as you can see there are a ton of questions surrounding the future of the Saints offensive line. Adding a talent like Mayfield who could play all 5 positions upfront could be an enticing option and allow some of those decisions to be much easier moving forward.

 

#2. Gregory Rousseau DE Miami

I’ve seen mock drafts with Rousseau as high as a top 10 to 15 pick and while I understand edge defenders typically are highly valued, I just don’t have him rated that highly. Still I love the prospect as a 1st round talent. He doesn’t have an elite get off (which is why he isn’t a top 15 guy for me) but he is a smart, heady player with power and length. The Saints are in a little bit of a quandary on the edge at the moment. All Pro Cam Jordan is coming off a down season and is one of the most expensive players on the team while former 1st round pick Marcus Davenport is entering a make or break season. Breakout pass rusher Trey Hendrickson is now in Cincinnati so Carl Granderson will have an opportunity to produce but he’s set to be a free agent after this season as well. Rousseau would provide the Saints with a more long-term solution at either end spot beyond 2021 and the Saints and Mickey Loomis have shown in the past that they will draft this position even if its a strength (in Will Smith selection).

 

#3. Zaven Collins LB Tulsa

It seems the Saints have been searching for another quality linebacker for some time now. Rumor is that the apple of their eye in 2020 was Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma until the Chargers traded right ahead of them to grab him. Collins is a special player for his size, his level of competition will be questioned but he’s absolutely a late to fringe 1st round prospect who could make an impact in New Orleans next to Demario Davis. The only issue I have with Collins is his fit in Dennis Allen’s defensive scheme and exactly where would the Saints play him. He’s sort of a hybrid player and I think his best fit would be on the outside but he could eventually kick inside when Davis time with the Saints is done.

 

#4. Tyson Campbell CB Georgia

Corner to me is still the Saints top need but at 28th overall the talent level gets a little murky. One thing to understand about the Saints scouting dept is that they are still a traits based evaluating group meaning that they place a heavy value on height, weight, speed athletes with the intention of developing that talent. Campbell fits this mold perfectly as he possesses the physical talent of a top 15 pick yet the production of a top 50 prospect. Drafting Campbell at 28 is pretty much splitting the difference and your banking on being able to develop that untapped potential, the skill set that you can’t coach into a player and if that happens you have a top corner tandem between he and Lattimore.

 

#5. Najee Harris RB Alabama

Everything the Saints have done so far this offseason has screamed of improving the run game and that makes a ton of sense with Drew Brees off to NBC. A strong running game will only help Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill. Alvin Kamara got a truck load of money and deservedly so but this is still a two back league and having a more physical inside runner to pair with Kamara is essential. Latavious Murray is a nice player but he’s going to be 32 to start the season and he’s pricy. Harris is a big physical runner with some receiving ability out of the backfield. He’d be a ideal compliment to Kamara's playing style and give the Saints offense a set of fresh young legs to help their running game.

 

#6. Dyami Brown WR North Carolina

Like most, I believe if the Saints have a true open quarterback competition between Winston and Hill… Winston will win that job. If that’s the case then you have to try and take advantage of what makes Winston special and that’s his arm strength. Dyami Brown is the best vertical threat in the draft and it isn’t even close. Brown is literally a prospect when combined with Winston's arm talent can score from anywhere on the football field and that’s a scary thought in an offense that has players like Thomas and Kamara working underneath.

 

#7. Levi Onwuzurike IDL Washington

The Saints loss a couple of good interior defensive lineman in Sheldon Rankins and Malcolm Brown. Quietly the Saints have been a top 5 run defense since 2018 but that is in jeopardy of dropping fast with the losses this offseason. Adding an interior defensive lineman is a priority this draft but its not a very good class. Onwuzurike is the best of the bunch and is worth the 28th overall pick and could be an impact interior defender in New Orleans. He has an enticing skill set and Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielson has a reputation of developing talent so Onwuzurike could be a sneaky good pick for the Saints at 28.

 

 

 

 

 

PROSPECTS WHO COULD FALL TO 28

 

#1. Mac Jones QB Alabama

All bets are off if Jones is available at 28… I don’t think he will be and I don’t think the Saints will trade up for him but if he falls the Saints undoubtedly will draft him. As much as they like Winston and Hill, both are on 1 year deals and are no locks to be on the team in 2022 much less than being the teams next franchise quarterback. The 2022 draft is rumored to be lackluster as far as quarterbacks so I do believe the Saints will want to come away from this draft with a quarterback so taking Jones at 28 would be ideal. He’s not the one man offensive machine other prospects are but what he is, is a high level accurate distributor of the football and that’s exactly what excels in Sean Payton’s offense.

 

#2. Devonte Smith WR Alabama

Smith may be the one player in this draft I could see the Saints trading up for depending on how low he falls. Smith is a fantastic football player but 6’0” 170 lbs is awfully slight for a high end 1st round pick. If Smith were to have a Calvin Ridley type fall, I could see the Saints and Payton getting aggressive and moving up into the late teens or early 20's to grab him as they could view him as a more dynamic Lance Moore with vertical ability.

 

#3. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB Notre Dame

Like Devonte Smith, Koramoah is a fantastic football player but he’s slight at 215 lbs and he plays a very physical brand of football. He’d be a terrific outside linebacker in the Saints scheme next to Demario Davis. I currently have him as a top 25 prospect but depending on how the draft falls he could very well be available at 28 due to his size concerns… I mean Darius Leonard fell to the 2nd round.

 

#4. Jaelan Phillips DE Miami

Phillips was a UCLA transfer to Miami and flashed in his lone season with the Hurricanes. From a physical standpoint, Phillips has everything you want out of a top 20 pick at edge rusher but how will teams view his production and college path? Talent wise, Phillips is top 15 in this class but could fall a bit potentially and if he does the Saints could be the beneficiaries of that.

 

 

 

 

PROSPECTS TO STAY AWAY FROM AT 28 OVERALL

 

#1. Christian Barmore IDL Alabama

The word is out on Barmore… lazy and unmotivated, uncooachable has even been mentioned. On the hoof, Barmore would seem to be this drafts top interior defensive player and pass rusher but his motor runs hot and cold, he has zero pass rush moves and like a lot of Alabama defensive lineman he simply will not be able to win in the NFL like he did in college.

 

#2. Kadarious Tony WR Florida

Nagh… no thanks! Great athlete yes but attitude, no route tree, slight and more of a gadget player than a true receiver. Elijah Moore of Ole Miss is a much better prospect if your looking for a slot receiver late in the 1st round.

 

#3. Nick Bolton LB Missouri

I like Nick Bolton… but not at 28th overall! Bolton is a physical hard hitting linebacker that will help your run defense but he struggles in coverage. I see Bolton as a solid mid 2nd round value but taking him 28th overall would be really overvalued and very much a reach.

 

#4. Greg Newsome CB Northwestern

I love everything about Newsome and even think he’d be a great fit and value for the Saints at 28… if it weren’t for all the injuries. Players who typically can’t stay healthy in college, cannot stay healthy in the NFL and Newsome is a major injury risk in the 1st round.

 

#5. Jayson Oweh DE Penn State

Physically… Oweh might be a top 10 talent but I question how good of a football player he is. The Saints already fell for an unbelievable talent who might not be a very good football player in Davenport, the last thing we need is to replace one for the other.

 

 

 

WHODAT

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I still have my money on us trading up if Mac Jones makes it past pick #10. If not, my guess would be a guy like Zaven Collins if he's there at pick #28. My sleeper pick #28 is Kellen Mond. I know most fans would "hate" it initially, but I think he goes much higher than most draftniks have him slotted. I think he's one of those prospects that scouts view higher than the average draftnik. Plenty of tools to work with and I could see a team taking him late 1st round to get that 5th year option on him.

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I think this first pick has to be a defensive player. Major holes at WLB and CB need to be addressed and depth across the DL was lost. BPA at those positions would be the route I’d like to see us go. Any offensive player other than an Offensive Lineman would be a luxury pick and we aren’t in the position to be making those. 

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17 hours ago, tyler735 said:

I still have my money on us trading up if Mac Jones makes it past pick #10. If not, my guess would be a guy like Zaven Collins if he's there at pick #28. My sleeper pick #28 is Kellen Mond. I know most fans would "hate" it initially, but I think he goes much higher than most draftniks have him slotted. I think he's one of those prospects that scouts view higher than the average draftnik. Plenty of tools to work with and I could see a team taking him late 1st round to get that 5th year option on him.

I like Mond... hes not a 1st round pick for me though. I wouldn't be shocked with the reach if the Saints are dead set on getting a quarterback there, I currently have Mond as a top 50 prospect so clearly a mid-2nd round talent on my board.

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1 hour ago, Orleanz said:

I think this first pick has to be a defensive player. Major holes at WLB and CB need to be addressed and depth across the DL was lost. BPA at those positions would be the route I’d like to see us go. Any offensive player other than an Offensive Lineman would be a luxury pick and we aren’t in the position to be making those. 

The defensive line group this year isn't all that impressive. There are a couple linebackers that are impressive but we might have to trade up for them and I doubt the Saints want to lose draft capital for them. The corner position is a cap shoot after the top 3 guys with most of the rest 2nd round talents. Edge is the only position I could see a worthy selection at 28 falling (unless Collins happens to fall) thats why DE at 28 would not shock me in the least. The Saints at 28 will be in a weird spot, if they want a difference making defender they will have to trade up. Or if they just want to fill out their roster they could stay put or trade back. If they truly want a quarterback and have been fooling all of us them all bets are off.

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41 minutes ago, whodatworm23 said:

The defensive line group this year isn't all that impressive. There are a couple linebackers that are impressive but we might have to trade up for them and I doubt the Saints want to lose draft capital for them. The corner position is a cap shoot after the top 3 guys with most of the rest 2nd round talents. Edge is the only position I could see a worthy selection at 28 falling (unless Collins happens to fall) thats why DE at 28 would not shock me in the least. The Saints at 28 will be in a weird spot, if they want a difference making defender they will have to trade up. Or if they just want to fill out their roster they could stay put or trade back. If they truly want a quarterback and have been fooling all of us them all bets are off.

I think even trading up for Collins would be a thing the Saints should do.  With his versatile skillset he would be an amazing weapon for the Saints being a perfect Joker type player.

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25 minutes ago, Raves said:

I think even trading up for Collins would be a thing the Saints should do.  With his versatile skillset he would be an amazing weapon for the Saints being a perfect Joker type player.

My list of players id like to see the Saints trade up for is short...

 

1. Devonte Smith

2. Kwity Paye

3. Jaycee Horn

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I’d be cool with trading up if we’re giving up future picks to do so. We’re going to need those 2nd and 3rd rounders to contribute with our cap situation. Next year we’ll have more flexibility when it comes to sighing veterans to fill holes. 

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21 hours ago, Orleanz said:

I’d be cool with trading up if we’re giving up future picks to do so. We’re going to need those 2nd and 3rd rounders to contribute with our cap situation. Next year we’ll have more flexibility when it comes to sighing veterans to fill holes. 

Not as much as you might think... this is a 2 year drought as far as cap implications go. Lot more dead money coming with Brees final year on the hook in 2022, likely Saints moving on from Malcolm Jenkins, extentions for Armstead, Ram, Williams and Lattimore likely on the franchise tag next year. 

 

Saints need to depend heavily on the draft and draft selections in 21 and 22. 23 we will be out of purgatory and that depends on how well Winston plays in 21. So many things can happen, thank Jesus were getting comp picks finally and will get them for Hendrickson and Rankins in 2022... were gonna need them! This is why I feel this could finally be the year we trade back, not up. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had nowhere else to put this but did anyone see that video of Jameis speaking to kids at a football camp? He had a funny bit to the effect of, "I'm out working everyone at my position -- I know Dak's right there" and the camera pans over to Dak Prescott shaking his head. It was a nice look personality-wise at Winston, for me. I have no idea if he is any more mature these days (I would hope so) or if he won't still throw 25 picks this year. But hey, we don't have to run the guy out of town with pitchforks if he flames out or plays middling QB for this team as long as he shows that drive and maturity. 

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