With the 12th Pick: 10 New Orleans Saints first-round NFL Draft prospects

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Oct 3, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Mississippi Rebels defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (5) looks on prior to the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Mississippi Rebels defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (5) looks on prior to the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith
Nov 14, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) celebrates in the second quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /

Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame

If the New Orleans Saints want to draft one of the most talented individuals in this draft class but get no immediate help, then Smith is their guy.  Likely a top-five pick a couple of weeks ago, Smith suffered a tremendous setback after injuring his knee against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.  Whether it be an ACL or MCL, which has yet to be announced, he’ll still go in the first round, just not where he was initially projected.

There’s a good chance Smith falls to the Saints at No. 12, which means the team will have a big decision to make — draft and wait, or pass him up and find immediate help.  Because, this is the type of talent that, once on the field, could wind up being the top pick in the draft.

Jaylon has the talent to play every linebacker position.  Yes, he’s that good.  He has the size, speed, length, burst, IQ, and coverage ability to be a legitimate wrecking ball in the NFL for a long time.  Throwing the 2015 Butkus Award (college’s top linebacker) winner in the mix alongside Stephone Anthony and Hau’oli Kikaha would be unfair to opposing offenses.  Regardless of injury, it’s going to be tough for anybody to pass on Smith given his endless ceiling.

Next: Big Man for Brees

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