As the selection process approaches, there are endless possibilities for first-round choices regarding New Orleans Saints draft prospects. After making several surprising trades last week, the Black and Gold are now stacked with picks in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Assuming Sean Payton and company stay put, the Saints are looking at two first-round options after trading away TE Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for center Max Unger and the No. 31 overall pick.
When day one of the draft kicks off in Chicago on April 30, New Orleans is expected to have the No. 13 and No. 31 overall selections. There are still a number of holes to fill down on the bayou — pass rusher, inside linebacker, offensive lineman, wide receiver and cornerback are all viable options.
Instead of us assessing the first round, we asked the fans to give us their choices on which New Orleans Saints draft prospects they want to see taken on day one.
Both are excellent choices to beef up the Saints’ front-seven. Kentucky‘s Alvin ‘Bud’ Dupree possesses the speed, length, explosiveness and freakish athleticism that would be a fantastic fit in Rob Ryan‘s defense. In fact, I have Dupree at No. 13 in my most recent mock draft. He’s a special athlete that could compete for a starting job day one. If he can get a little stronger to help rip free from engaged blockers, he’s got a very bright future in the NFL.
Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi State is a another good choice. He’s a big, raw, versatile athlete with the ability to play both inside and outside — that position flexibility is ideal for the Saints’ scheme. However, with tight feet, limited range and often poor execution during pass plays, he could be a bit of a burden at the next level in coverage — New Orleans needs all the help it can get there. We’ll see how McKinney pans out at the next level.
LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins is also a guy who can come and compete for a starting job day one, likely transitioning to guard in the NFL. After trading away Ben Grubbs, the Saints may end up targeting a lineman early on. The way Collins uses his long reach in pass protection and strength as a run blocker to create lanes make him more equipped for a pro-style offense like the New Orleans Saints. If he gets beat on one play, he comes back meaner and harder on the next. He’s a true finisher, but must improve his balance to find consistent success. Don’t count out Tim Lelito for that left guard job just yet.
Dorial Green-Beckham would be a beautiful addition to the Saints’ passing game, especially after parting ways with Graham and WR Kenny Stills in the same week. DGB would bring excellent size and prototypical length (6-foot-5) as an immediate red-zone target. He’s also great at stretching the field. He’s a physical specimen, but his offield issues, which led to his dismissal from Missouri and transfer to Oklahoma (where he was ineligible this year) in 2014, are similar to those of Cleveland Browns‘ WR Josh Gordon. Are the Saints willing to take that risk?
Clemson‘s Vic Beasley is my favorite prospect in the first round. However, I just don’t see a scenario where he falls to the Saints at No. 13, especially after an extraordinary combine performance and solid pro day. He’s a bit smaller than scouts and coaches prefer for the linebacker position, but his strength, athleticism and performance certainly outweigh his size. He may have more burst than any pass rusher in the 2015 class, and due to his broad shoulders and long arms, Beasley is also one of the most powerful of all the incoming rookies.
Miami‘s Denzel Perryman is an animal — a guy I thought the San Francisco 49ers should also target after the retirement of Patrick Willis, especially now after the young Chris Borland called it quits at 24-years-old. Perryman is an outstanding athlete and excellent tackler, who brings a tremendous amount of aggression and energy to the field — something New Orleans lacked in 2014. This guy looks to be the real deal at the inside spot.
DeVante Parker of Louisville is another receiver that could help tremendously in the absence of Graham and Stills. Down the road, he could wind up absorbing Marques Colston‘s big man role. The 6-foot-3 Parker has great long-stride speed, lower body explosiveness to get up in the air and excellent change-of-direction skills for route running. He missed the first seven games of 2014 due to a foot injury, so there are some durability concerns. There are just a few basics (footwork, hand usage, etc.) that he needs to work on, but those can be developed under the proper care of a solid coaching staff in New Orleans.
I’m not too sure about the Cameron Irving pick. The Saints just acquired one of the top centers in Max Unger. Other than center, Irving’s only other experiences come at left tackle (a spot held down by Terron Armstead) and on the defensive line. However, that doesn’t change the fact the Florida State offensive lineman has a bright future. You never know — his size, versatility, strength and toughness may land him at the guard position somewhere.
Again, Vic Beasley is my favorite prospect, if (big if) he falls to the Saints at No. 13. See above for my brief analysis on the Clemson standout.
Like DGB and Parker, Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong could fit in well, especially down the road when Colston’s time is up — the two are similar. Strong is not worth a No. 13 pick, nor will he likely fall to 31, so some trading around for the Saints would probably be on the agenda. While it wouldn’t be a surprise for Coach Payton and GM Mickey Loomis to do so, I believe New Orleans is better off staying put. Strong is an intriguing prospect — he’s got great hands, excellent leaping ability and attacks the ball well. His frame and power make it difficult for defensive backs to compete.
Thank you for your input, Who Dat Nation. We always enjoy hearing what the Saints fans have to say. Be sure to look out for more questions on our twitter feed — your answers could be featured next.
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