Opinions Ross Jackson

Ross Jackson’s Offseason Wishlist (Including Pre-Free Agency Mock Draft)

Wanted to throw together a quick and fun idea of what I’d like to see from the Saints this offseason. So I’ve compiled a list of the Saints I’d like to see resigned, wishlist Free Agent players (if money wasn’t a problem), realistic Free Agent targets, and a Mock Draft. All in one place. These are obviously going to change and can’t all happen. Just an idea of some of what I’d be happy to see. Enjoy!

Saints Free Agents to Re-sign

K Wil Lutz

The long-standing fight to find a serviceable kicker ended with the signing of Lutz. He provided a far more than serviceable option booting 87% of his career FGs through the uprights, 93.3% last season. Lutz is a restricted Free Agent so the Saints could Tender him to get a shot at matching any offers he receives after Wednesday at 4pm eastern time.

DT Tyrunn Walker

Walker to me is a get that makes sense. The Saints will need some help at the defensive interior and Walker was the guy they went to in Free Agency during the playoffs last year. Although he didn’t get to see the field, he has a ton of experience with New Orleans and has all the tools to provide quality play in the absence of Rankins and potentially Onyemata before shifting to more than adequate depth when they return. Unlike Tyeler Davison, Walker has shown a propensity for both run-stopping and as a pass rusher.

LB Craig Robertson

This might be a sentiment pick for me as I’ve been a fan of Robertson’s for some time. But truly I believe that the depth he provides at the Linebacker position, finally a position of strength in New Orleans, as well as his special teams work make him valuable enough to the team that bringing in fresh depth that may or may not grasp the system just doesn’t seem worth the risk. You know Robertson knows the playbook and the system as he’s played a starting role in it all around the LB core. That makes him more valuable to the Saints than to other teams. The LB market will likely start steep and drop off after the first flurry of contracts are handed out to the top-tier guys.

CB P.J. Williams

Though he’s a complete screw up and made an idiotic decision that shouldn’t be tolerated this offseason in earning himself a DUI, Williams could find his way back to New Orleans. We feel pretty confident though that another team will overpay for him. If not, he’ll provide quality depth and an experience in the system behind Lattimore, Apple, and Robinson. The CB groups in free agency and the draft aren’t great. So you might as well go with what you’re familiar with in that case.

QB Teddy Bridgewater

I was a huge proponent of bringing Bridgewater to New Orleans. I was pretty convinced that he’d be on his way out this offseason but with every QB-needy team having plugged their spot or resolving to wait until next year, it looks like the Saints are ahead in the race to retain the potential Brees successor. This signing along would be a big win for New Orleans, casting a blanket of relief over the organization.

RB Mark Ingram

Okay fine. Here. I’m still not convinced he’s staying, but I’d certainly love to see him back paired with his ole buddy Alvin Kamara for a few more years. There’s no question that Ingram is very important to the Saints and Who Dat Nation, but it’s time to be ready, just in case.

Wishlist Free Agents (The Guys They Probably Can’t Afford)

WR Golden Tate

Tate is probably gonna earn a pretty penny this year as it looks like there’s finally a market willing to pay out to slot receivers. Tate’s estimated value per spotrac.com is $10.2M per year. Too steep for New Orleans by a longshot considering he might command more than that.

S Adrian Phillips

Phillips has been moved to my wishlist since new safeties have entered the market that are more realistic options. Phillips excels in what the Saints night need at safety and that’s the third safety role. The Saints don’t play a ton of three-safety sets any more, playing just around 80 last season and Kurt Coleman played less than 35% of snaps total. No need to pay too-tier dollars to a player that sees the secondary for that little amount of time. Not to mention that Phillips is a 2018 Pro Bowler and First-Team All-Pro selection. So his price tag might leap along with the value of special teamers since the new kickoff rules came to be.

DT Sheldon Richardson

Would be the perfect blend of run-stopper and pass-rusher to throw into the d-line mix. He’s simply going to make much more money than the Saints are going to be in position to offer.

The Realistic List

S Antoine Bethea

Bethea was released this weekend and could be the budget version of Adrian Phillips on defense with the veteran value of Kurt Coleman. He’d be a great mentor to the young safety core and had a great season last year as he transitions to a box safety wrangling careers highs in tackles, tackles for a loss, sacks, and QB hits. He’d make more sense with the recent re-signing of Chris Banjo who’ll handle special teams responsibilities. Look for Banjo to get a shot at the third safety position too pulling in 3 interceptions in less than 100 defensive snaps played.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Saints are rumored to be in the market for a Tight End. A need I imagined they’d seek out in the draft if the rumors are true that they’d utilize Josh Hill at TE1. But at the combine, Sean Payton mentioned both that Tight End was a need and that they plan to address needs in Free Agency so they could go BPA in the draft. If that’s the case and they go TE in the open market ASJ could be a budge option coming off of a down season with Jacksonville. He comes with some red flags, but we’ve see. The coaching staff work that out before.

RB T.J. Yeldon

This would be in the scenario in which Mark Ingram heads to another club. Yeldon has experience as a pass-catcher in addition to his talents out the backfield as a running back. He’s also got experience splitting carries with another talented partner in Leonard Fournette so he gets the structure of the tandem backfield. He might be one of the more comparable replacements for Ingram out on the market if they decide to go to Free Agent route. However, losing Ingram doesn’t save money.

Mock Draft

These selections are made with the assumption that Bridgewater will remain in New Orleans but Ingram heads out to one of his many suitors and no TE is signed in Free Agency.

Round 2 Pick 62 – Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss

Saints get a pass-catching threat at TE. Underutilized at Ole Miss which fairs well for the years of usage New Orleans will get out of him.

Round 5 Pick 168 – Devine Ozigbo, RB, Nebraska

Outstanding speed and a combination of run, catching, and return ability. Would be a solid young option to compete to split time with Alvin Kamara.

Round 6 Pick 177 – Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo

It should be no surprise at all that we at ASC like Hodge at this point. He’s not a cover guy, but that’s okay. That’s not what the Saints need. They need a downhill thumper than can play on first and second down and other obvious run situations. That can read and react quickly and is a sure tackler. Hodge checks those boxes already with still unrealized potential from his small program.

Round 6 Pick 202 – Hamp Cheevers, CB, Boston College

Saints spent late on a Boston College selection last April with Kamrin Moore. This time, they do so again selecting a ballhawk in Cheever’s who has 9 interceptions and 10 passes defended over his two years as an Eagle.

Round 7 Pick 231 – Michael Dogbe, DL, Texas

Big body in the middle of the defensive line to help hold the Saints over as they wait for their two starters to return. Stallworth and (hopefully) Walker will do the majority of the heavy lifting with Digbe provides rotational depth.

Round 7 Pick 244 – Nate Herbig, OL, Stanford

6’3”, 336 pound Nate Herbig is a BIG guy for sure that can play all around the offensive interior. Arms don’t meet the tackle threshold but could pull it off in a pinch. This late in the draft though, you’re just looking for guys that bring more than one position to the table. Not to mention it’s simply time to start loading up on options. The Saints have an outstanding front five but two are entering contract years with a third in 2020.

Lots to keep up with this week so look out for more mocks and updates. Be sure to follow All Saints Considered on Twitter @AllSaintsBlog and you can follow me personally @RossJacksonASC