Saints to deal with new-look NFC South in final first-round mock draft
We know that the New Orleans Saints will have a new quarterback in the division after the Draft. If it goes this way, Saints fans will have a lot to ponder.
When it comes to the NFL Draft, mock Drafts are like March Madness brackets. Total shots in the dark. Still, it gives fans a bit of a glimpse into a potential future. For New Orleans Saints fans, they already know there's a new quarterback in the NFC South on the horizon with the Carolina Panthers owning the number one pick. However, what if there's another new quarterback the Saints will be facing twice per year?
We held out long enough, it's now time for out official first-round mock draft for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Despite all the smoke and mirrors, the Carolina Panthers take the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback number one overall in Bryce Young for the Saints to deal with for potentially the next decade plus.
The Houston Texans actually do it. They pass on the quarterback and take the pass-rusher, just not the one everyone thought. New head coach DeMeco Ryans is used to long edge-rushers (drafted early) from his time in San Francisco, and Tyree Wilson is an athletic freak who certainly fits that mold.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH ARIZONA CARDINALS
Fireworks BAY BAY! The Arizona Cardinals trade out of number three, as they've reportedly been trying to do, it's the Tennessee Titans pulling up from the parking lot and moving from pick 11 to pick three, and jumping their AFC South-rival Indianapolis Colts to get who they hope is finally their franchise quarterback.
Shaken but not stirred, the Colts sit at number four and still end up with their quarterback, even if he is considered a bit of a project. To be fair, there was always a chance this was going to be the pick all along anyway.
Leave it to Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks to surprise everyone in the first round of the NFL Draft. Carroll and company's quest to recreate the Legion of Boom takes a big step when they take arguably the top corner in the draft, the giant Cristian Gonzalez, who would have fit right in the secondary a decade ago.
Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions have something cooking over there, they just have to sit on it and let it boil. That starts with improving the defense, which is the biggest thing holding this team back. They cannot run their ticket to the podium fast enough, as potentially best player in the Draft falls to them outside the top five.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Howie Roseman is going to wheel and deal. It's up there with death and taxes at this point. The Eagles don't end up with Bijan Robinson like everyone expects, but instead the trade up ahead of the Atlanta Falcons, who are in need of an edge rusher, and take arguably the best in the Draft and end his shocking free-fall. The rich get richer.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE ATLANTA FALCONS
That doesn't mean the Falcons don't end up with a coveted player however. You can pretty much connect the dots on what this means. There is another new quarterback in the NFC South, and it isn't a rookie. As part of this absolute blockbuster that breaks not only the Draft but the internet, the Baltimore Ravens begin a new chapter post-Lamar Jackson and it starts with Will Levis.
It may not seem like it amidst the choas, but this "cool-down" pick is actually perfect. The Chicago Bears need to protect Justin Fields, and Skoronski has the athleticism, skill, and versatility to play where they need him. As added bonuses, he played his college ball locally at Northwestern, and the Bears having an offensive lineman with the last name "Skoronski" is just too perfect to pass up.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
The Las Vegas Raiders get their wish of a new quarterback. They've needed back-end help on their defense seemingly forever, and they are able to not only land a top-two cornerback in the Draft, but obtain some additional assets by moving back and doing so. A rare first-round win on the surface for the silver and black.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE TENNESSEE TITANS
Despite being a defensive coach, new head honcho Jonathan Gannon appeases his new franchise quarterback and lands the protection he requested in Paris Johnson Jr., and trading back in doing so.
In something of an interesting class of rookie wide receivers, the Texans complete their, shall we say "noteworthy" evening by landing the top one. Whoever is throwing the ball in 2022 and/or beyond is quite happy.
The Green Bay Packers FINALLY decide to draft a first-round pass catcher the very offseason Aaron Rodgers decides to go, pack, and go... and it's a tight end. Still, Dalton Kincaid is a talented and versatile player, that should have the cheesehead's new QB1 feeling the Love.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Just when everyone thought they recovered and calmed down, BOOM! More fireworks. Bill Belichick loves to zig instead of zag, and loves trading down even more. Jerry Jones meanwhile, loves himself some "splash" picks, and boy is this it. It also feels inevitable to be honest. Zeke Elliott is gone, Bijan Robinson went to Texas, and has a similar style. Internet broken again only this time from annual Dallas Cowboys offseason hype.
In case the news hasn't spread your way, Aaron Rodgers is in New York... New York. They have the weapons on the outside, plus the defense to boot, so protecting him is priority numero uno. Drafting Broderick Jones is a good place to start.
No one really ever knows what's going on with this franchise. What we do know, is they decided not to pick up the fifth-year option of Chase Young, so a pass-rusher will be needed. Enter Nolan Smith, who will bring a championship pedigree to a franchise that has had anything but in recent years.
Another one that just feels right. Joey Porter Jr. follows in his father's footsteps to the Steel City where he was a franchise hero. He also fills a need in the secondary, so that's a positive too.
The Lions defense still needs work. Now it's time for the secondary. The Motor City takes the best corner left on their board to be the player they once hoped the recently-traded Jeff Okudah would potentially be.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The Minnesota Vikings had the worst defense in the NFL, even getting torched by Daniel Jones, twice, including once in their playoff loss. They need help pretty much everywhere, but choose to work from the inside-out, and stop the surprising fall of Lukas Van Ness, who doesn't have to move far in the midwest.
The Seahawks continue to add more pieces to their defensive puzzle, and add the versatile Calijah Kancey out of Pitt to sure up their defensive front.
Different city, same story. The Los Angeles Charges have all the talent in the world, but can't stay healthy. That's especially true for the wide receiver position, so they aim to get younger and help out Justin Herbert.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE BALTIMORE RAVENS
The Falcons swap with the Ravens in this hypothetical trade, and give up a lot in future picks. While they'd love to give their new quarterback another weapon (something the Ravens were never keen on doing) they still need a pass-rusher, so they take the best available.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS
The trenches of the Saints NFC South rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers also need work on both sides, just as the Saints do, but their need is more dire . After Jason Licht obtains more draft capital, his team goes offense first, with a hole at tackle in need of filling.
With Shaquil Griffin now gone after some inconsistent play, the Jacksonville Jaguars bring in another one to take his place in Deonte Banks to fill the void for a roster growing increasingly more talented in head coach Doug Pederson's second year. Sounds a bit familiar...
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew finally decide to put forth an effort in giving Daniel Jones some help on the outside. If they gave him the bag they might as well try to make it worth their while.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE DALLAS COWBOYS
The New England Patriots draft a wide receiver in the first round and the greater New England area holds their breath. Fortunately Zay Flowers has a lot of talent and even more upside.
The Buffalo Bills need to do all they can to protect Josh Allen, and it showed during last year's playoffs. They take one of the top interior lineman in the entire draft late in the first round.
With Jessie Bate III now gone, a secondary that already needed help as it is suddenly has a glaring need at safety. The Cincinnati Bengals take the best one on the board to try and stay at, or near the top of the high-flying AFC.
With the futures of current starting guards Andrus Peat and Cesar Ruiz in doubt, the Saints prepare for life without them by taking the guard they've been high on for a while and brought in for a pre-Draft visit. Steve Avila has the ability to step in and start at guard day one as an added bonus. The Saints wisely retool and reload from the inside out starting here, doing all they can to protect Derek Carr in 2023 and beyond.
So the reigning, defending, undisputed NFC champs do end up with a running back, just not the one they were hyped up to get. While Howie Roseman does love him some trenches in the Draft, he does also have a history of skill players, and players from the SEC, particularly Alabama. Every box gets checked with his first-round haul with Anderson and Jahmyr Gibbs.
Speaking of the rich getting richer, Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs wind up with a potential stud receiver to add to their offense at the end of the first round. It almost feels unfair.
So there you have it, our official first-round mock of the 2023 NFL Draft. If it turns out anything remotely close to this, the New Orleans Saints will definitely have their work cut out for them. They still will, but it's also likely this mock is busted a few minutes in. You gotta love the NFL Draft.