The NOLA Saints have two first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and they need to spend them wisely, especially since they parted ways with their 2023 first-rounder in order to get the second pick for this year.
Rhett Lewis of NFL.com did a cool mock draft where he listed the player’s biggest need at the time of their selection and the best player available when that team was on the clock and then he made his pick.
For the 16th overall pick, Lewis said Garrett Wilson was the player the Saints needed but that Jameson Williams was the best player available. Saints fans would be fine with either one of these guys landing with NOLA but Lewis’ pick for them was Williams.
"I love the idea of the Saints upgrading at wideout to give Michael Thomas (assuming he’s healthy) and Jameis Winston some help. Would have loved Garrett Wilson here for the immediate impact, but he went off the board to the Texans, so the choice is PFF’s best available. Williams offers extreme athleticism and big-play production, but the torn ACL from January’s national title game might put some question into the immediacy of his contributions to New Orleans’ offense."
As Lewis mentions, Wilson is the hope for NOLA but unfortunately, he was already claimed by another team. That means the selection of Williams would be even more popular in the Big Easy because he’s one of the best wide receivers on the board at that time.
The addition of Williams gives Jameis Winston a ferocious weapon to pair with Michael Thomas. The injury he sustained in the National Championship game could be a reason why his draft stock dips but the Saints would be lucky to have the Crimson Tide product in their offense.
Jameson Williams gives NOLA Saints scary weapon on offense
As for the 19th overall pick, Lewis went in a controversial direction.
The “need” for the Saints at this point of the draft was Charles Cross, an offensive tackle out of Mississippi State, but he went fifth overall to the Giants, which seems insane that he went that high. With Cross off the board, New Orleans decides to take the player who Lewis considers to be the “best player available”.
That player is Sam Howell, a quarterback out of North Carolina.
"Back on the clock here at No. 19, the Saints face one of the most intriguing selections of the entire first round. Cross is long gone in this mock simulation, but he would’ve filled an obvious need at left tackle, with Terron Armstead relocating to Miami in free agency. Following New Orleans’ failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson — and the subsequent re-signing of Jameis Winston — a quarterback would make plenty of sense here. Could Howell represent the future of the franchise? Perhaps, but I’m here for the drama of the pick in the meantime."
Howell hasn’t been mocked in the first round every time and The Draft Network gave him a second-round grade so this feels like a bit of a reach.
Howell threw for 3,056 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine touchdowns in 12 games for the Tar Heels last year, which don’t exactly pop off the page. He was a tremendous rushing threat, however, tallying 828 yards and 11 touchdowns with his legs and that could be what makes him a nice fit for the Saints. He kind of reminds me of Alex Smith with the numbers that he put up in his best season at North Carolina.
Could Sam Howell be NOLA Saints’ franchise QB?
Adding Howell would give the Saints an option at the sport’s most important position outside of Winston and they wouldn’t have to rush the rookie into action. Let Winston start this year and maybe even next year and then see what Howell has to offer.
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What do you think of this mock draft, Saints fans? Are you on board with the team adding Jameson Williams and Sam Howell?