2017 was a year that brought Saints fans around the world hope. The future looks incredibly bright with this team. The injection of youth and Sean Payton’s youthful ways have led this team to the promised land. We are a very young team as the core of or team has players in their first contracts scattered along every position group. Draft season is one of my favorite times of the year as it is a way to improve your team on the cheap for four years. From Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and Sheldon Rankins we have drastically improve from missing the playoffs year after year. 2018 will be a year to continue to improve through the draft. Here is my first prediction and analysis on who I feel NOLA will take.
Round 1 pick 27- Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk Texas
The NFL has become passing-driven which makes creates a need for any team to get a player like Kirk. From his freshman year Kirk flashed something special. He has raw speed and explosiveness and is always a threat to score from anywhere.. Kirk is lightning in a bottle in the short field and is also extremely savvy as a deep threat. His biggest quality which plays for the Saints is his YAC capabilities. He has a win no matter what mentality and he has the body to do so. He is 5-11 200 pounds which makes him a solid player. The way I see it is Michael Thomas needs a running mate and Christian Kirk has Golden Tate ability and NOLA can use two studs along with their All Pro runners and Drew.
Round 3- Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
Rudolph has improved each year while in college and has began to demonstrate himself as a leader on and off the field. Being in a spread offense he may enter the NFL at a mental disadvantage, but don’t get me wrong he is a smart football player, and with time he should be able to understand the NFL game and NOLA is a great offense with a QB friendly coach and staff. There may not be an elite trait in his repertoire, but honestly coming out Drew Brees didn’t either as he slipped down to round 2. Rudolph will likely see a draft fall and the Saints would be wise to grab him and have Brees show him the ropes. All the top dogs at QB in Rosen, Darnold, Jackson and Mayfield will steal all the headlines and honestly I’m okay with that becasue Rudolph is my favorite QB in this class. I see a player with Kirk Cousins potential but a better leader and smarter thrower.
Round 4- Texas LB Malik Jefferson
Jefferson is a young, raw player who with age and training will begin to realize his potential. In round 4 what you look for is tools and Malik Jefferson has plenty. He’s a destructive force when he plays up to his talent but those plays are too few and far between. I think he’s barely scratched the surface of his potential. His bend is unique and un-coachable and his speed and power are uncanny. A team that likes speed especially at the edges of the defense I think Jefferson can develop into a very solid edge rusher with some capability to develop coverage skills. A third down player early may be in his future but he has double digit sack ability. I see a player similar to Yannik Ngakoue
Round 5- Ohio State OL Jamarco Jones
Stepping in for Taylor Decker should’ve been a hard job to do. However, Jones became an All Big Ten selection and many fans might not have noticed a huge difference in production. He has a nasty streak in him and he has the size to dominate at 6-5 310 pounds he has perfect size for the Saints and he can learn from 2 stud tackles and possibly even step in as the teams sixth tackle. I see the potential to become a similar player to Ja’wuan James
Round 6- South Carolina LB Skai Moore
Skai Moore probably would be a second rounder if he didn’t have such a huge health risk history. His neck injury in 2016 has some worried about long term problem. In 2017 he looked like his old self and has me in particular excited for him to play OLB for the Saints. His career stat line looks more like a ballhawking DB than a Linebacker who led his team in tackles in each of his four years. Moore ended his career with fourteen interceptions, to go along with 20 tackles for loss. As a player who mainly played in coverage his speed plays into his game and he is a strong tackler in space. I view him as our coverage linebacker to allow Te’o and Klein to play in the box and thump around. I see him in the mold of Mark Barron.
Round 6- Ohio State DL Jalyn Holmes
As a part of a rotation on a strong D-line Holmes consistently showed out. His versatility allowed him to present NFL teams with the picture that he can be a movable piece and be effective at all positions. at 6-5 270 pounds he can be a disruptive force with top 3 round talent. I see a player similar to Brandon Graham.
Round 7- University of Washington Center Coleman Shelton
As a 2 star recruit not many people expected the 50 starts and solid production from this unsung hero of their offensive line. Named an all Pac 12 first team center he has showed that he is ready for the training the NFL comes with. Sitting and learning behind one of the best centers in the game Max Unger Shelton can put on weight and hone his skills to take over two years down the road when the Saints need another stud center to step in. I see a player similar to Greg Mancz.