Mock drafts have been in full swing since almost before the regular season ended in the NFL and sites like WalterFootball.com even have ones up for the 2018 season.
They are almost more of a literal wish list for fans than teams themselves as loyal fans of the New Orleans Saints have found out in recent years when head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis seem to spin the wheel on prospects who you’ve never heard of or didn’t even know their school existed.
But heading into 2017 is much different as the team has hit on three consecutive 7-9 seasons with the assumption that at the very least Payton’s job hangs in the balance if the upcoming season yields the same or worse results.
The Saints have chosen players and made trades during previous drafts that boasted a franchise who could afford to absorb a gamble or risk which couldn’t be further than the truth with 2016 currently looking like their “strongest” draft since 2006.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no draft expert and generally try to stay away from mock drafts since it can fluctuate back and forth but I haven’t done one in forever so I thought I’d give it a shot for old times sake with a few rules:
–This is a three round mock with the Saints currently having five picks in what I call the “premium” rounds.
–This mock doesn’t take into consideration acquiring New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler who would no doubt change the selections the Saints have as well as their thought process of approaching the draft.
–I used Fanspeak’s mock draft simulator and utilized Bleacher Report’s draft analyst Matt Miller’s Big Board.
–I ran the simulator five times to see which picks were close to being constant instead of once and hitting a “home run”.
So here now we’re on the clock…
Round 1, 11th overall selection–Derek Barnett/Defensive End/Tennessee
Barnett is looking to be what defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins was for the Saints in the draft last year in regards to be the favorite or what could be considered the safest pick with a need for an defensive end opposite Cameron Jordan.
Another rusher in Michigan’s Taco Charlton, who is gaining some hype, was available all five times but with Barnett you keep seeing the word “consistent” which is evident in his last three years in college.
He may not be the most flashy guy but he can get the job done, averaging almost 17 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks per season in three years.
Oh and FYI for the Reuben Foster fans, he was gone before reaching #11, which I’m hearing whispers that despite the incident at the NFL Scouting Combine during medical checks he may go within the first ten picks easily.
Round 1, 32nd overall selection–Ryan Anderson/Outside Linebacker/Alabama
This may not be a popular selection for some but I am really a fan of Anderson and think by double-dipping at a pass rusher who can play a role possibly close to what Junior Galette did in the Saints defense(minus the off-the-field baggage) would be a plus.
Looking at his profile on several reports you keep seeing that he earns rave reviews for being disciplined and he steadily improved during his time at Alabama and finished his senior year with 18.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles.
I was using this pick to stack the defensive front seven if not the defensive line and my true option was Missouri’s Charles Harris but he was gone every single time and I think that’s how it plays out on draft day as well as he slowly works his way up.
Anderson may be viewed as too early to grab with the 32nd pick but I’m also part of the “it’s basically a second round pick” club here.
On the back end, this selection may be a wash considering that the consensus is that the Saints will have to return this pick back to the Patriots if they are able to acquire Malcolm Butler in a trade.
Round 2, 42nd overall selection–Tre’Davious White/Cornerback/LSU
This selection was a little back and forth since the draft talk on White has been very hush compared to others such as Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore or Washington’s Sidney Jones.
Jones suffered what is reported to be an Achilles injury during a workout that will cause a ripple effect with the cornerback selections in the draft so White still being here in the second round is sketchy and I was only able to select him three times.
Although he didn’t put up huge defensive numbers at LSU in his college career(only six interceptions), White’s ability to play in coverage is what the Saints need and he ranked #1 in the SEC in passes defended(14) during 2016 with a total of 34 for his college career.
Saints fans would love this pick for the pro comparison NFL.com gave White in the form of Tracy Porter.
The other two times that found White selected just before this pick I went with USC cornerback Adoree Jackson staying with the theme that the Saints should still grab a corner in the second round even if they land Malcolm Butler.
But I still like White enough that if the Saints have to give this pick to New England instead of their 32nd overall for Butler I’d be okay with them still grabbing Tre’Davious with that second first rounder.
Round 3, 76th overall selection–Nathan Peterman/Quarterback/Pittsburgh
I’m sure this selection could cause some hair-pulling considering it seems like Garrett Grayson 2.0, but regardless of that there is no denying the Saints should always be looking to the future at quarterback.
Drew Brees is in the final leg of his contract and depending on how the season plays out could very well be looking to depart to a team that will offer him a better chance to win another championship before he retires.
If you don’t believe that then his stance on not negotiating an extension until after 2017 combined with obvious frustration after the conclusion of the 2016 season should telegraph that.
Plus if Payton were to leave or be relived of his coaching duties following the 2017 season then it’s a no-brainer Brees is on to greener pastures.
Peterman, like Tre’Davious White, was one who came up three out five when I was running the simulator with the next quarterback being Ole Miss signal caller Chad Kelly.
I don’t think he will fall far past this selection even if he does make it, so the Saints should grab Peterman who operated in a pro-style offense and came off his solid senior season where he threw for 2,855 yards for 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
Round 3, 103rd overall selection–Josh Jones/Safety/NC State
One position the Saints need to invest in is safety which sneakily become a little thinner with the departure of Jarius Byrd and the lack of depth behind Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell.
Plus Vaccaro could possibly depart next year since he is under the fifth year option for 2017 and will be a free agent in 2018.
Ironically while running this mock Jones was at the top of the safety position every time and reading his draft report from several sites you can’t help but see that like Vaccaro he is an aggressive player who likes contact.
While he started at strong safety for NC State, he also played free safety along with cornerback duties sprinkled in and his 4.41 40-yard dash would make you believe he could fill in there if needed.
He snagged seven interceptions during his three years in college and was in the top eight stats of the ACC during 2016 for interceptions(3, #7), solo tackles(62, #6), and total tackles(109, #8).
With good ball skills and the reputation for being a velociraptor on the field, Jones could end up as part of the three safety set if Dennis Allen still wants run it or a possible replacement if Vaccaro is no longer there after this next season.