Jaylon Smith to New Orleans Saints in FanSided mock draft

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Oct 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) leaves the field after Notre Dame defeated the Temple Owls 24-20 at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) leaves the field after Notre Dame defeated the Temple Owls 24-20 at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Saints select Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith in the FanSided’s network-wide 2016 NFL mock draft.

FanSided released its first mock draft, with every NFL team’s respectable network website, including Who Dat Dish, participating in the selection process.

John Hendrix and I agreed to take Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith with the New Orleans Saints‘ No. 12 overall pick.  Let it be noted that we chose Stephone Anthony with the 31st pick a season ago.

Our analysis on Jaylon Smith:

"If the New Orleans Saints want to bring home one of the most talented individuals in this draft class but get no guaranteed immediate help, then Jaylon Smith is their guy.  Before Smith suffered a brutal setback (a “significant” injury to his left knee) against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, he was likely a top-five or even top-three prospect.With Smith falling to the Saints at No. 12, Sean Payton and company had a big decision to make — draft and likely wait, or pass him up and find immediate production.  New Orleans took the risky route, but will it pay off?  It did for the St. Louis Rams and Todd Gurley a season ago.The Saints’ biggest need is arguably a weakside linebacker.  New Orleans was a much better football team when Dannell Ellerbe, who recently restructured his contract, was on the field, but he only played in six games thanks to a nagging hip injury.  There’s no security there and no guarantee he’ll be as productive as he has been in the past.Jaylon Smith has the flexibility to play every linebacker position.  Yes, he’s that good.  He has the size, speed, length, burst, pursuit, IQ, and coverage ability to be a wrecking ball to opposing NFL offenses for a very long time.  Throwing the 2015 Butkus Award winner in the mix alongside Stephone Anthony and Hau’oli Kikaha would be a tremendous step forward for that struggling Saints defense.Given New Orleans’ glaring need on the weakside and Smith’s endless ceiling, the talent is simply too tough to pass up.  Once over that injury, Jaylon Smith has a very bright future down on the bayou."

We understand Jaylon Smith is risky business, but his talent is undeniable.  Our pick and analysis were submitted several weeks ago, and things do change.  If Smith is able to return from injury in time for the 2016 season, he could be a day-one contributor.

However, on Monday, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper said he thinks Smith will be unavailable in his rookie year.

Next: Free agents the New Orleans Saints should target

The New Orleans Saints may want to go another route.  If they plan on winning another Super Bowl before Drew Brees‘ time is up, they’ll be looking for immediate production.

Unless the Saints can fill some major voids on defense during the upcoming free agent period, Jalyon Smith is somebody they may want to stay away from.  Regardless, we’re still talking about a very special football player here who could bid well for the future of any organization in the NFL.

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