Draft season is one of my absolute favorite parts of the year because there are few things I enjoy more about the game of football than looking at young players and imagining how they can fit into a team and grow. It’s fun watching kids in college, looking at their professional projections, and trying to see how they fit into what you believe is the team’s vision for the future. However, many fans, and especially us bloggers tend to take it WAY too seriously. Not the draft itself, that’s where great teams are built, but mock drafts can get a little out of hand especially when each drafter has their own view of what round a player has good ‘value’ in. Here’s the dirty little secret to ‘value’ in the draft…it’s a stupid premise. Sure getting a productive player in the 6th round is great ‘value’, but if a team holds off on drafting a player higher who they believe is going to be a valuable piece for them they are stupid. The key to drafting well isn’t focusing on ‘value’, it’s focusing on getting quality players who fit. That’s it. If you take a player a round earlier than the internet decided he should be taken the only metric that actually matters is the only one that ever matters, does he help the team. It’s that easy. In the interest of that mentality here are MY picks for the Saints ‘golden 3 round draft’ focusing entirely on getting players who can help the most as soon as possible.
Round 1: Pick 11- Haason Reddick DE/OLB Temple
Two months ago my top player for the Saints was Derek Barnett, a month ago it was Christian McCaffery, and I still LOVE both players for the Saints. But if I’m looking at someone who I believe fills a major need in the short-term, but can also be a true superstar in the long-term, I have to get Haason Reddick. Reddick is not just an exemplary athlete, but he’s also a tenacious football player who brings both flash and substance. Most importantly he’s a natural fit into a role the Saints already have on their defense, that of often injured linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Reddick is fully capable of being a ball-seeking missile (and not in the Draymond Green sense), but he’s also a legitimate pass rusher who has the necessary strength to shed blocks and the elite speed and agility that allows him to evade them altogether. The Saints desperately need a competent pass rusher to pair opposite ProBowler Cameron Jordan, but more than anything the defense needs a playmaking X-factor to help elevate them. Reddick is that player.
Round 1: Pick 32- Derek Rivers DE Youngstown State
What do the Saints need? PASS RUSHERS!! When are they gonna get them? NOW!! For anyone who may have some concerns about taking Reddick at 11 and being worried about whether he can play end in the NFL, don’t, I don’t intend (and in my scenario neither do the Saints) for him to have to do that except for situationally. Rivers is a fantastic defensive end prospect whose complete as both an effective pass rusher and as a run defender which is pretty rare coming out of college. The only reason I think it’s possible he drops this far is he doesn’t come from a big name school and that will often scare teams, especially in the first round (unless its a QB of course). With Reddick they got a playmaker and a chess piece for the defense, with Rivers they get insurance who gives them the desperately needed baseline for the defensive line, and at best gives them the potential for a stellar front 7. Some will be clamoring for a corner here, but there are far fewer ready to play today players at defensive end than corner in this draft, and rookie corners are notoriously slow starters. There’s also only one corner I think might be available here worth taking over Rivers and the fact is that defensive end is a MUCH bigger need right now.
Round 2: Pick 42- Fabian Moreau CB UCLA
Fabian Moreau is a classic case of a good player, who shocks the world at the combine, and that pushes his narrative to a great player. Moreau is an awesome athlete, and as a converted running back has a thicker frame and greater strength than some other corners would have. He’s also shown steady improvement at the position which due to his elite athleticism allowed him to be a fast riser at what is arguably the hardest position in football to play other than QB. What will push him down is the combination of lack of experience and this being an insanely deep draft at the position. Moreau is a guy who before the combine most would agree was a ‘3rd round talent’, and after the combine people who value tape more than track and field exercises will still agree. By that logic this is a reach at a position I just said is extremely deep and talented. However, like I mentioned above I care less about ‘value’ than getting players with high levels of talent who fit. Moreau has incredible upside, but a surprisingly high floor as a I believe if he ONLY maximizes half of his potential he can be a rotation level corner in the league, but if he gets any more than that he should become a star. Aaron Glenn has done a phenomenal job in New Orleans in helping the team’s corners develop and while he might be unplayable week 1, Moreau’s talent could make him a stud by week 10 (remember rookie corners take time). What’s more a better pass rush gives coverage a much better buffer, so the frequent ‘burnt toast’ moments rookie corners get baptized with in the NFL will naturally be reduced which can help his confidence stay high and his development accelerate.
Round 3: Pick 76-Kareem Hunt RB Toledo
Hunt isn’t the explosive playmaker that Christian McCaffery is, but he’s a running back VERY much in the mold of former Saints great Pierre Thomas. Hunt has freaky balance and lateral agility, very little ‘burst’ (instant acceleration and ability to separate from defenders), but soft hands and phenomenal vision. Hunt isn’t an ideal NFL running back, but he’s an excellent fit to backup Mark Ingram and give the Saints a possible 3rd down back similar to what PT used to give them. Personally I LOVE Lasco’s talent, but the Saints absolutely cannot go into the Season with Ingram as the only player of worth in the backfield, especially with his injury history. Hunt is a legitimate playmaker who will help the team move the chains and if the Saints take him it could be a sign of the offense moving fully back into a ‘pick your poison’ mold it had a few years ago. Hunt’s versatility and tenacity make him an ideal fit in New Orleans.
Round 3: Pick 103-Cameron Sutton CB Tennessee
The Saints need talent and depth at Corner, and thankfully this draft is loaded with it. Sutton is a classic, doesn’t blow up the combine but has great film guy. He’s 5’11” instead of 6 feet, but he’s tenacious, extremely sound technically, and totally dedicated to the game. Sutton also brings some positional versatility as its possible he could be moved to safety in the NFL. Personally I see him as a slot corner who can move to outside when/if needed and he’ll bring a technical and intelligent element to the Saints backfield that is always valuable.