Derek Barnett and Haason Reddick have emerged as popular mock draft choices for the New Orleans Saints. But a lot can happen on draft day.
A number of players are routinely mocked above the New Orleans Saints pick at 11. But between the controversial quarterback prospects, the elite players at RB and TE and a generally weak OL class, it’s entirely conceivable that some of these top-ranked talents fall down the board.
The Saints’ most clear need is at EDGE rusher. Their ideal position is a defensive end, though an OLB could also fit the bill. Behind that need, cornerback is most pressing—assuming, that is, that the Saints don’t manage to trade for Malcolm Butler (which I believe they will).
But that doesn’t exclude them from drafting BPA. With two first-round picks and three more in the next two rounds, the Saints have the flexibility to pick a player at a number of positions.
A few players are guaranteed to be gone by 11. Myles Garrett, obviously. Solomon Thomas seems locked into one of the first few picks. Same with Jonathan Allen.
But look at the list of players below them. Malik Hooker, Jamal Adams, Haason Reddick, Marshon Lattimore, Reuben Foster, Marlon Humphrey on defense. O.J. Howard, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Corey Davis, Mike Williams on offense. And that’s not counting the three quarterbacks, Trubisky, Watson and Mahomes, any or all three of whom could go before the Saints pick.
That’s somewhere between 12-15 players. Someone could reach for an OL. Someone could reach for upside players like Taco Charlton or even Jabrill Peppers. And someone could draft Barnett before 11.
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What I’m saying is, someone will drop.
Whether its a safety, a cornerback, a linebacker or a RB, the Saints have the flexibility to draft outside of need. They could shock the world and select O.J. Howard—he’s clearly talented enough. I don’t think they’ll spend that first pick on a receiver or a quarterback, but who knows.
So don’t get your hopes set on a player like Barnett. He doesn’t have quite the upside that some of these other prospects do, and when one of them falls to the Saints at 11 it might give Payton and co. pause.
The ideal scenario in my mind is to trade down. Especially if quarterbacks fall off the board, and only one of the three is left. The Browns, the Cardinals, the Texans, the Jets and the 49ers are all quarterback needy. The Texans draft pretty late in the first but their need is dire. They may sell out for a chance to land one of these prospects.
The most difficult decision, to me, is if one of these safeties fall. Yes, the Saints have a need after letting Jairus Byrd go. But they have two starters in Vaccaro and Bell, and between Rafael Bush, Erik Harris, and guys like Forrest Hightower, Chris Banjo or Shiloh Keo there might be enough depth to get by.
That said, Hooker and Adams are great prospects and the Saints do run a lot of 3-safety sets.
Whatever happens, it won’t be an easy draft day for the Saints. And they’ll need to come out with enough impact players at their positions of need, particularly at DE and CB (if they don’t land Butler).
In the end, they’ll have a big board and they’ll stick to it. Let’s hope they get it right.