The New Orleans Saints will be have to wait until the middle of the second day of the 2012 NFL draft before they take their first player as they have no first or second round pick this year.
Last year the Saints traded back into the first round to select Alabama running back Mark Ingram with the 28th pick.
To get him they swapped first round picks with the Patriots, essentially forfeiting their first round pick this year.
In hindsight the trade for Ingram is looking better and better as he is a promising young player, but also the Saints would likely have been stripped of their first round pick this year by the NFL as a penalty for Gregg Williams bounty program.
Since the Saints had no first round pick the NFL chose to take this years second round pick as well as next years second round pick instead.
But there is plenty of legit NFL prospects in reach of the Saints third round pick, where they select at the 89th slot.
Even with no first or second round pick this year, New Orleans can still find an impact player that should be able to contribute to the team during their rookie season.
Let’s take a look at some of the more promising prospects that could be available.
Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick: Former basketball player turned wide receiver, Quick has impressed scouts with his superb route running ability and ultra-athleticism. He stands 6-foot-4, weighs 220 pounds, and a posted a 4.55 forty yard dash at the Combine. He compares favorably to Saints wide receiver Marques Colston, who has been unbelievably productive inside New Orleans offense since joining the team as a seventh round pick out of the 2006 draft. Quick may be taken in the bottom of the second round, but their is a real possibility he goes in the third as some teams could be scared off given his overall lack of football experience — much like Jimmy Graham was when he was passed over in 2010. Other notable wide receivers: Arkanasas’ Greg Childs, Nevada’s Rishard Matthews, and California’s Marvin Jones.
LSU strong safety Brandon Taylor: With the possibility looming that the Saints will lose current starting strong safety Roman Harper to suspension, for his perceived involvement in the bounty system, drafting a good safety prospect could be of high priority to the team. Depth is minimal at both safety positions, and currently Harper’s primary backup is Jonathan Amaya — the man awarded to the Saints by the Dolphins during the Reggie Bush trade. Taylor can make violent hits for a strong safety, and even could play the free safety position if the need ever arises. He is fast (4.50 forty-yard dash) and doesn’t shy away from getting physical with opposition, a trait the Saints love from their strong “in-the-box” safeties. At the Senior Bowl his physicality stood out along with his display of quality instincts and good anticipation. In 2011 Taylor put together a nice season for the LSU Tigers. He had 71 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, five pass deflections, one sack, and two interceptions. Other notable strong safeties: South Carolina’s Antonio Allen.
Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin: Even though the Saints signed defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley in free agency it’s likely they are still interested in adding a good young tackle in the draft as neither Aubrayo Franklin or Shaun Rogers is expected back with the team in 2012. Martin was a three year starter for the Wolverines where he posted 172 total tackles, 25 for a loss, and ten sacks while earning a reputation as one of the Big Ten’s fiercest run defenders. Scouts note that his upside is really as run defender and not a pass rusher, but he could be a solid rotation player in a 4-3 scheme. The Saints are trying to get better at defending the run, and Martin could fit the bill to help spell starter’s Bunkley and Ellis in the middle of the Saints defense. Other notable defensive tackles: Washington’s Alameda Ta’amu, Alabama’s Josh Chapman.
Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield: The son of former Cleveland Brown standout corner Frank Minnifield, Chase has the NFL pedigree to go along with a deep understanding of how to play the corner position. His stock plummeted some after he was unable to participate at the Combine due to “bilateral ankles” or swelling stemming from a procedure he underwent in January to clean out an ailing knee. But regardless of the medical red tape, Minnifield is a solid cover corner that can play the run and the pass equally well. The Saints are a bit slim on corners after losing both Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence in free agency this years, so getting Minnifield who should be able to step in and contribute immediately is a real plus. Other notable cornerbacks: Vanderbilt’s Casey Hayward, LSU’s Ron Brooks, Arizona’s Trevin Wade.