On the eve of the NFL Draft, I conducted my final mock draft to share on draft day. I’ve gotten so much enjoyment out of doing these, I have no idea what I’ll do when the draft actually concludes. But instead of thinking about all the time I’ll have without a proper outlet, let’s look at my final installment of what I think the Saints can pull off this weekend!
I took to Twitter on Tuesday and said that I’d have another mock coming your way without doing trades. I lied. Well, I didn’t lie, I was just blatantly wrong. I tried to do a mock with all eight picks but things just didn’t seem to make sense. There’s no reason for the Saints to pick eight players in this year’s draft and there’s certainly no good reason to wrangle six of them in the final day.
So I went in with the intent of trading, but in typical Saints fashion, only up and never back. I focused on trying to hit each of the positions I thought made sense – LB, EDGE, CB, TE, WR, OL. Let me know how I did. Here’s what transpired.
Round 1 Pick 27 – Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
Unlike my last mock, the Saints stay put at 1.27 and bolster their defense in several ways. Evans brings versatility to the second level as a coverage backer, run stuffer, and pass rusher. He’s what we in theatre call a “triple-threat”. Except instead of dancing, singing, and acting, he’s destroying your offense. While the Saints did sign Demario Davis to man the middle of the defense, Evans played all three LB positions (Mike, Will, Sam) at Alabama and excelled in all three areas. He’s got the quickness to man the weakside and the strength to fight off TEs on the strongside. He’s a dynamic chess piece that both Dennis Allen and Mike Nolan would put to good use opening day against the Bucs.
Round 2 Pick 11 (From N.E.) – Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
I fully expect that the Saints will be selecting in the second round if they don’t move up in the first. If they stay put in the first, it’d be expected that they’d target what they passed on at 27. In other words, they went pass rush/defensive presence in the first, so they go pass-catching TE in the second. Which is exactly what they do here. The trade with New England sends next year’s second-round pick (TBA), and 2018’s third-round (91) and seventh-round picks (245) in exchange for the Patriots’s first second-rounder (43).
Which brings me back to my dude, Mike Gesicki. Sure, I’m 100% sold on this guy based on his combine, but also his sheer talent. He’d be an undeniable first-rounder if not for the fact that he doesn’t have much to show in terms of blocking ability. But let’s face it, that’s not why the Saints would want him. The Saints draft Jimmy Graham for his pass catching ability and for being a physical freak/matchup nightmare. That’s exactly why Gesicki here’s his name called near the top of day two by Marques Colston and Roman Harper. The Penn State product is 6’6″ tall with a 41.5″ vertical. Cam Newton could throw to a touchdown or two to this guy- imagine what Drew does with a weapon unlike any other available in the draft.
Round 4 Pick 8 (From CHI) – Ohio State EDGE Tyquan Lewis
While Rashaan Evans does contribute to the pass rush and constitutes a “pressure player”, he’s not a pure pass rusher. Tyquan Lewis, on the other hand, is. Rated as the ninth-best EDGE rusher by PFF (one spot above teammate Sam Hubbard). The Saints swap fourth-round picks with the Bears at the expense of their first fifth-round pick (147) which was originally obtained via the Adrian Peterson trade with Arizona. Lewis comes to the Saints from the apparent New Orleans farm team Ohio State. With him comes impressive measureables and great technique. He’s not much of a speed rusher, yet but has a variety of pass rush moves that get him to the quarterback. He’ll need some work in order to increase his ability to fly off the edge, but his work in the run game and his sound technique will make him an excellent rotational addition to the recently resigned Alex Okafor. This is another pick that comes with versatility as well as Lewis has played on both ends and the interior for a very talented Ohio State defensive line.
Round 5 Pick 27 North Carolina A&T Brandon Parker
The Saints are still in need of some depth on the offensive line and for that, I stick with my previous pick, Brandon Parker. The 6’8″ 303 pound LT was a three-time All-MEAC offensive lineman of the year and was only the fourth player ever from his school to be selected for as a first-team Associated Press All-American. With the injury history of Terron Armstead, it makes sense to bring in young talent to back him up, and Parker is a great option to do so. Parker stood on a offensive line that allowed the least sacks in the MEAC and 13th nationally. Parker and Armstead would also both have the rapport of coming from small schools and making an excellent impact for their NFL team. With the free agency addition of Jermon Bushrod, adding Parker shores up the future of the offensive line while providing insurance in case of injury.
Round 6 Pick 10 Texas Tech WR Keke Coutee
I still believe strongly that the Saints will take another WR in this draft and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they target one that brings the special teams element along with them. Keke Coutee was second in the nation in receiving yards in his final season and contributes well in kick returns averaging 31.5 yards per return. Coutee compiles 1,429 receiving yards and ten touchdowns in 2017. He’s a little smaller than the Saints usually like to go in the slot, but he could end up being a fun piece on the offense. His small hand size (8 3/8″) is what might attribute to a little bit of a drop in draft to get him here. But regardless of that, adding this kind of explosive weaponry to your arsenal is far from a bad call.
Round 6 Pick 27 – Tulane CB Parry Nickerson
The LSU-less draft might continue with this mock, but at least we get a Louisiana prospect in this one. Tulane CB Parry Nickerson has been mocked to the Saints ample times and it only makes sense. Having impressed at the NFL Combine with his 4.32 40 time, Nickerson has drawn increased attention across the league and national media. Beyond his speed though, are incredible ball skills. Nickerson is truly a ballhawk. He can high point better than most of the receivers at his level. He wrangled 16 interceptions in his four-years at Tulane. During those four years he never missing a game and started 46 of 48. He is being touted as one of the best CBs to ever play for the Green Wave and certainly shows why on a weekly basis. He totaled 188 total tackles in his four years as well as 31 pass breakups which records as the third most in Tulane’s history. His 16 picks rank second all-time for Tulane. Nickerson would come in fighting for a spot among the Saints defensive backs, but I think would inevitably fill important roles on special teams while developing into a potential starter in the next few years.