Mock drafts are always fun and the fact is that the earlier, the more fun they can be. We’ve gone through and compiled some of the ones floating about the internet and catalogued them for you below. Remember, early mocks are usually just a tool used to help garner interest in particular projected first-round prospects. Below, you will find some of the picks from various mock drafts, some individual, some groupthink, some from top scouts, some from CBS, so on. You’ll also find my thoughts on the fits for each one player. Instead of focusing on trying to predict their 2019 college seasons, I am more interested in discussing how each selection would adjust the fabric of the Saints gameplan and where they may, or in some cases may not, fit in.
You will find a compilation of ten mocks below. 90% are offensive players, 60% are wide receivers specifically. It is pretty clear what the perceptive “need” is projected to be in New Orleans next offseason.
29. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
“With Bridgewater in the building the Saints can afford to focus on defense… a clear-cut Day 1 impact guy with his range, tackling ability and power when locking down the gaps between the hashes. “
Saints struck gold with Demario Davis in 2018 and he looks prepped to follow up in 2019 with another strong year. However, his three-year contract would expire after the 2020 season and also has a potential player out next offseason. So if Davis walks, Murray could be heir apparent to QBing the defense in New Orleans. Otherwise, the Saints could let him learn behind Davis for a year before taking over as Davis will be 31 when he contract closes out.
30. Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
“4.32 40 in high school, Texas state long jump champion. Could potentially be as good as Jerry Jeudy but held back by TCU QB Play” – Nystrom
A guy like Reagor could be huge for New Orleans. Adding his insane athletic ability in the Saints first year following what could be Ted Ginn’s last in the black and gold would insure a pretty nice transition for the offense. Not to imagine the boost for Reagor. Going from a team whose QB play totaled only 2,721 passing yards and 17 touchdowns while boasting a mere 59.4 completion percentage at TCU to either Drew Brees or Teddy Bridgewater in the NFL would be career-
32. Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace
“Electric on the field and super fun to watch. 86 catches for 1,491 yards (17.3 yards per catch) and 12 TDs.”
Wallace is a largely underrated WR in what will be the second of three consecutive extraordinary wideout classes. This 2020 crop is expected to outside this year’s 2019 group which featured N’Keal Harry, DK Metcalf, Hollywood Brown, Hakeem Butler, and others. The 6′ 185-pound receiver is a little undersized for the Saints usual taste but his explosive abilities will help set him apart from the rest of his cohorts. If he catches Payton’s eye, we could see the Saints second OKST receiver since 2016 when they selected an also undersized Brandin Cooks in the first round.
30. Tarik Black, WR, Michigan
“The Saints don’t have much-proven depth at receiver behind Michael Thomas… the 6-foot-3 receiver is a true upside play after a foot injury limited him early in his college career.”
The risk here with much more proven and consistent wide receivers on the board is tough for me to be okay with. Black could turn in an outstanding 2019 college season that raises his stock. But if you give me the option between this guy and Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson, I’m rolling with the Gopher.
29. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Widely considered one of the top, if not the best, running back in College Football this season. Clemson’s *other* Heismen hopeful. Etienne took a load of carries last season with 204 but made consistent good on those touches for a total of 1,658 yards on 8.1 yards per carry. He also hit pay-dirt 24 times on the ground with an additional pair of receiving touchdowns. Etienne would essentially become the immediate back to split responsibilities with Alvin Kamara who is far more talented a pass-catcher, allowing Kamara to shift back to his shared role as opposed to the lead role he’ll see with Latavius Murray backing him up in 2019.
31. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
“To find his successor if it’s not Teddy Bridgewater. If Eason wins the starting job after transferring to Washington, he seems likely to play well enough to get into the first-round mix.”
If the Saints decide they wanted to take a QB late in the first round just in case Bridgewater doesn’t pan out, I wouldn’t be mad at them. The two most likely names at this point would be Eason or Georgia’s Jake Fromm. Eason would have to show a lot in 2019 thanks to his lack of presence so far in his career in order to entice New Orleans, but they’d also have to have had a strong free agency earlier in the offseason to pass on the weaponry available at other positions at this point in the draft.
28. Kendrick Rogers, WR, Texas A&M
“The Saints have looked for upgrades across from Michael Thomas, but none of their moves worked out in that regard. Here’s a potential solution. “
“Kendrick Rogers has flashed some major upside, but he’ll need to show improved durability to be chosen in the first round. “
Rogers, like the aforementioned Tarik Black, is a bit of a risk at this point looking ahead a season. Last year he had only 27 catches for 336 yards and 5 touchdowns in his limited snaps. He’ll have to stack up just stats just as productive (12.4 yards per catch) over a prolonged period of time in 2019 in order to strike the fancies of NFL clubs and their first round conversations. Not saying this isn’t possible, but again with the talent available, hard to see the Saints going in this direction at this moment.
29. CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma
This would send me into an absolute frenzy. We were all shocked to see how far some of the 2019 receivers fell despite the immense talent in that class. This 2020 class is set to be even more impressive and its depth could lead to a similar drop in selection position. If Lamb and his big-play ability drop to New Orleans, the league can just mail the Lombardi to Poydras even with Taysom Hill under center. Any secondary tasked with slowing down a highly paid Michael Thomas, young and explosive Ceedee Lamb, newly paid Alvin Kamara, and a more accustomed to the system second-year Jared Cook behind a solid O-line is going to be in for a bad time.
29. Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
The 6’6″ phenom could end up being an upgraded version of what Iowa State had last year in Hakeem Butler. At his frame, he runs like a freaking gazelle, makes contested catches, and is deceptively fast. Putting this guy opposite Michael Thomas and his expected shiny new contract and beside Jared Cook in his second season as a Saints would honestly be unfair. And I’m all for it.
27. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
The writers here then go on to write about how the Saints could be a landing spot for developing a young QB as well. But this is an interesting selection. The Saints just signed Cam Jordan to a major extension through 2023 and this season could be huge for Marcus Davenport as New Orleans hasn’t put a huge emphasis on finding a rotation vet at the DE position. So to go with a pass rusher here would be for the pure joy of having three potent pass rushers on the defensive line. Or it would signal a lack of trust in Davenport’s development. But doubtful it will come to that. Also doubtful that Chase Young falls this far if he has the season that’s expected of him. Matt Miller, back in May, listed him as his #2 overall prospect in 2020.
With Wide Receiver being the ever-popular pick this offseason, it’s worth mentioning that DraftBlaster also did a third-round mock which included the Saints selecting Georgia Wide Receiver Demetris Robertson as well.
Follow Ross on Twitter @RossJacksonASC