I guess you could make the argument that the season isn’t over yet since there’s still a game left to be played. That’s great and all, but I’m here for New Orleans football. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at my mock draft leading up to the combine. I’d love to say that I’ll be back after the combine with a new one, but I love these so I might update this a couple more times before moving on to an official 2.0. Oh, I’ll be throwing in some Youtube highlight reels. If you see any that you really like, consider giving those hard-working content creators a like and subscribe.
Round 1 Pick 27 – Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
While I think EDGE is a higher priority for the Saints than LB, if they can get ahold of someone that can help in each area, why not both? Rashaan Evans is a rangy thumper that can also be a threat off the edge. He’s built to play every down on defense and can help to continue the improvement of the Saints running defense- especially if Alex Okafor is able to return to his full 2017 production. This would be the reality we almost realized in nearly snagging Rueben Foster at the end of the 1st round last year.
Round 3 Pick 27 (91) – Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
The Saints have lots of options to add playmakers to the offense. There’s a lot of TE talent this year and some explosive WRs. Mike Gesicki is a pass catching TE, which we didn’t end up securing in Coby Fleener like we’d hoped. At 6’6” 250, he’s a match up nightmare. The skills he developed as a basketball/volleyball player make him too nimble and agile for most LBs and his sheer size would dominate defensive backs. He’s not a super polished route runner and he can use some work as a blocker, but I don’t think the Saints would be drafting him to wall up defensive players at the line, but instead to box out and make contested catches in the redzone.
Round 4 Pick 27 (129) – Ohio State EDGE Jalyn Holmes
Holes can develop into an absolute beast at the NFL level with professional facilities and trainers. He’s got some insane measurables that make him very hard to pass at this point in the draft. Holmes measured an 82 7/8” wingspan, one of the best at his position at the Senior Bowl along with 34 3/4″ arms. These are great measurements for a defensive lineman in terms of shedding blockers and also getting their hands up to bat down some passes, which became a big part of the Saints game in 2017. On top of that, he’s got some pretty good pass rushing moves, including this nifty spin he put on display at the Senior Bowl. Oh, and he’s got the Ohio State connection, of course.
Round 5 Pick 10 (149) From Miami – Oklahoma State WR Marcell Ateman
Ateman is a big bodied receiver who can fill in the hole that may potential be open if we don’t bring back Willie Snead or Brandon Coleman. At 6’4”, Ateman is a little shorter than Coleman, but he plays much taller. He’s a guy that can go up and get the ball in the redzone while also remaining a threat to go deep. Grouping him with Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. would give Brees another big target over the middle and on a quick fade against smaller DBs. He, like Coleman, has some issues with dropped passes from time to time., but he’s in a better position to improve that. Remember when Ted Ginn Jr. was a drop machine until he suited up in black and gold? An alternative WR at this spot could possibly be Allen Lazard out of Iowa State.
Round 5 Pick 27 (166) – Western Kentucky QB Mike White
You’ve got to imagine that the Saints are taking a QB this draft. If they don’t, then expect a heavy dose of Taysom Hill in the preseason. Mike White might not be one of the big names we’ve heard all year, but the kid can ball. He posted 63 touchdowns to only 15 interceptions and notched a 66.4% completion percentage while at Western Kentucky. The former baseball star is a great candidate to sit back and learn from Drew Brees for a couple of years before taking the reins. It’s definitely possible that the Saints take a QB earlier in the draft, but with White projecting as a third day pick, they might wait it out and snatch him up in the 5th.
Round 6 Pick 15 (192) From Arizona – Southeastern Louisiana LB Sione Teuhema
The Saints haven’t drafted an LSU player in quite some time, but how about an LSU transfer? Loomis tends to look at small school talent in the later rounds so I have a few in mind. Teuhema is a baller at LB who can play either of the OLB positions. He was selected as a First Team FCS All-American after posting 80 tackles, 9 sacks, and 18.5 tackles for a loss his senior years. He also added two forced fumbles and an interception. He’s made it abundantly clear that he can be effective as a run defender, which would be a welcome addition to Manti Te’o at the second level. The other thing that stands out is that, at least in his conference, he has shown a real savvy when it comes to quickly diagnosing plays and making decisions.
Round 6 Pick 27 (204) – South Florida DL Deadrin Senat
Likely the second-best story in the draft this year behind only Shaquem Griffin, Senat grew up in Immokalee, FL and attended the only high school in the area which graduated CB Mackensie Alexander and RB Edgerrin James. While only in his freshman year, his mother passed away due to complications with a spider bite. His brother was in and out of jail and he was on a path to much the same fate. During that time, a pastor saw him crossing the street and invited him in for dinner. After that, everything changed for Senat, who began playing football and found leadership and accountability in the new family he was building around him. His father, Guy, died two years after Senat decided to go to UCF over Miami, FSU, Boston College, Nebraska, and other larger school in favor of helping to revive the UCF football program. You can read more in detail about Senat in this great article leading up to the Birmingham Bowl. Beyond his story, he put up some great numbers in college compiling 66 tackles and 6 sacks his last year as playing in the interior line for the defense. He’d be a great addition to the rotation of Rankins, Davison, and Onyemata.
Round 7 Pick 27 (245) – Southern Mississippi RB Ito Smith
The running game is absolutely sewed up between Mark Ingram, who is aging like fine wine, and Alvin Kamara- the newest NFL superstar. However, behind them is a bit of a question mark. Though Trey Edmunds blasted the Buffalo Bills when given the opportunity and played great in the preseason, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in some non-Adrian Peterson like competition. Ito is explosive and shifty and his elusive moves aren’t limited to getting around the edges. He can shift and slide his way through a defensive interior and presents the same kind of hand-in-the-ground balance as our own Kamara. He is also a reliable receiving back catching at least 40 passes and amassing more than 1,600 scrimmage yards in each of the last three seasons, topping 1,800 in the last two. It’s possible that after the combine, Smith will raise his stock. But if he’s made it into the third day, it’d be worth the pick to bring in someone as athletic and special as he is.