FanSided Expert Mock Draft: Saints Grab An Early Steal

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Oct 8, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) returns the interception during the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) returns the interception during the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /
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Experts from blogs for each NFL team across FanSided participated in a one-round mock draft. The New Orleans Saints got a steal at 11.

Derek Barnett is easily the favorite among New Orleans Saints analysts and fans for the upcoming draft. And if the board falls the way most mocks expect, Barnett will be the best available player that fits the Saints need at pass rush.

But draft day is a wild animal, and there’s no telling how the board will finally fall. In this mock, for example, there were more than a few surprises.

And the Saints ended up with a special player at 11. Be forewarned: he doesn’t fill the pass rush problem. But he does fill a need.

You can check out the draft here. I recommend you do. I don’t agree with every pick, by any means. But this easily offers a more in-depth at each team’s needs and inclinations than any of the more superficial McShay, etc., type-drafts. And the experts each spend a few paragraphs breaking down why they made their choice. Again, I don’t agree with everything. But it’s refreshingly insightful.

I won’t keep you in suspense for our first pick, but seriously. Check out the mock. It’s a great read.

So, without further adu…

December 31, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) intercepts a pass intended for Clemson Tigers wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) during the first half of the the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
December 31, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) intercepts a pass intended for Clemson Tigers wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) during the first half of the the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

With the 11th pick, the Saints select: Malik Hooker

The Saints biggest needs are glaringly obvious: pass rush and cornerback. This choice doesn’t directly address either, and there’s clearly no greater complaint about the pick.

Beyond that, the fit is undeniable. Hooker is a freak of a prospect who belongs in the top six or seven players in the class. He’s got all-pro written all over him. Jamal Adams is possibly the more explosive prospect, but Adams doesn’t have anywhere near the instincts that Hooker has. He’s a playmaker, a ball-hawk, who can transform a defense by playing both over-the-top safety coverage and slot coverage against TEs and RBs.

He would immediately step in as the replacement for Jairus Byrd. Vonn Bell is a good player, but he isn’t Byrd’s replacement. He’s a different style of safety. Malik Hooker would be, in his rookie year, the player that the Saints wanted when they brought in Jairus Byrd.

A pass rush would be the best way to bring out Hooker’s impact, and that would need to be addressed later in the draft. The 32nd pick would be ideal for that. But if the Saints want to bring back that 2009 defense that brought them to the Super Bowl, that created turnovers, got the offense back on the field and kept their snap count down, Hooker is the way to do that.

We went into the draft thinking we’d land Barnett or possibly Haason Reddick at 11. Pass rush was the most pressing need. But when Hooker fell, our hands were tied. You don’t let a player like that slip through your fingers. This defense needs talent above all else, and Hooker is one of the best defensive prospects in the class.

So, with that in mind…

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