This is the third draft big board I have done for the Saints and quite a few things have changed since the last one I completed just prior to free agency’s start over a month ago. Down the list are offensive tackles after the re-signing of Zach Strief and safeties after the Saints signed Jairus Byrd, Marcus Ball and retained Rafael Bush. Corner is still a need, too, but the signing of Champ Bailey makes it a less desperate situation to reach for. This board is a combination of best fit for the Saints and overall talent. Because I have ruled out the Saints taking a quarterback in the first two rounds, I removed all of them from this board. This time I also listed 50 players (as opposed to 25).
I have marked these as NA (won’t be available at 27), LNA (likely not available at 27), ** (target 27 pick), * (target 58 pick) and ALR (available in later rounds).
1. (NA) Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: If the Saints were picking first they’d have to take him. In fact, I think he should be first on all team’s boards.
2. (NA) Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: This position is a huge need and Watkins is as game changing as they come.
3. (NA) Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: Some might argue he’s not a great system fit, but Rob Ryan would find a way to maximize his elite talent
4. (NA) Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M: I keep going back and forth with which player I consider the best tackle in the draft. But I think Matthews is a high character guy that would fit in well with the team. Work ethic and durability gives him a higher ceiling
5. (NA) Greg Robinson, T, Auburn: Another tackle that will be gone in the top 10.
6. (NA) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: This feels a bit high, especially for a receiver that has similar skills to Colston, but he’s going to be a dominant player in the NFL.
7. (NA) Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: Another explosive pass rusher that will go early.
8. (NA) Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: I keep going back and forth with him and Gilbert as the corner I would want, but he may be more NFL ready.
9. (LNA) Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: I had him #4 on my “Saints board 2.0” but the signing of Champ Bailey makes corner slightly less important. He’s still the guy most likely to be left available at #27 in this top 10. He is also set to visit with the Saints today.
10. **Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: He’s a receiver version of Darren Sproles and Sean Payton would salivate to have him in the offense. That, and field stretching needs would immediately be fixed.
11. **Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: After his combine results there are no question marks left and I feel good about him being a likely target. The Saints had dinner with him following the LSU pro day.
12. (LNA) Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan: If he fell to 27 the Saints would have to seriously consider it.
13. **Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Also a player the Saints have looked at that could possibly be there at 27. He’s got lots of potential, I just like Cooks and Beckham better.
14. (LNA) C. J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: I only take him if all the guys above here are taken at 27. But if he’s available he could push for playing time and become a tackling machine. Only concern is durability.
15. (LNA) Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: With Jimmy Graham on the team he doesn’t make much sense, but man, that would be a tasty tandem for Drew Brees.
16. **Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: I could see him being the pick at 27. He should be available and he’s a good player. Size is the only concern.
17. **Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State: He’s moving up a lot of boards. Seems to be a complete player that can do it all. The Saints could stand to get younger and more athletic at linebacker.
18. **Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville: I had him much higher before the Saints got Jairus Byrd. Now he’s just not needed. But the Saints still visited with him anyway and we know Rob Ryan loves safeties.
19. (LNA) Zack Martin, T, Notre Dame: Someone will reach for him before 27, I think, because teams are so desperate for tackles. Worth considering if he’s there, though.
20. **Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State: Don’t rule him out as the pick at 27. I wouldn’t complain. If the Saints don’t go receiver in round 1 and he’s still there at 58 I’d be ecstatic. He has fantastic hands and he’s a great leaper, making him good in traffic downfield. Reminds me of a taller Lance Moore.
21. **Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: Similar in style to Mike Evans. I’d prefer a more explosive receiver because the Saints already have Graham and Colston, but he’ll be a good pro.
22. **Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: I’m tempted with this guy at 27, very much so. Character questions may be the dealbreaker though. He has the size, toughness and playmaking style though.
23. **Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: A slightly more versatile but less explosive Junior Galette type player. I wouldn’t be a big fan of this guy at 27. Everyone listed above would have to be taken. If by some miracle he’s still available at 58 I’d like the value.
24. **Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: Like Early I just don’t love this pick for the Saints. I could see him dropping much lower than the mocks that have him at 27 to the Saints.
25. (LNA) Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame: Mammoth player. I’d love this pick if Brodrick Bunkley had left or if the Saints didn’t draft John Jenkins a year ago. But given depth he’s much lower in need.
26. **Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame: Reminds me a lot of Akiem Hicks. The D-line is so deep I think receiver and corner are higher priorities, but he’d be a nice interior rotation guy.
27. **Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: The size is perfect, but I don’t see him at the pick unless the guys above here are gone. He’ll almost certainly be available.
28. (LNA) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama: Not a ball hawk guy and I question his character fit.
29. **Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU: Like both Ford and Ealy, I just wonder if he’ll ever put it together and he’s less explosive than both. At 58 I would consider him.
30. (LNA) Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: Good player, I just don’t think he fits with the mock 3-4 Rob Ryan runs. Not big enough inside, not versatile enough outside.
31. *Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: I realize he didn’t pass the measurables with flying colors but just look at his production in college. The guy is a play maker
32. *Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida: I’d strongly consider him at 58 if the Saints don’t pick a corner first. He is loaded with potential and may just need Rob Ryan’s magic touch.
33. *Rashaad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State: A complete player that has good ball skills, can play the run, is smart, dependable, durable and high character. He’s just not that fast or strong. But on paper he’s a good fit for the Saints. I’d be happy with him at 58.
34. *Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee: I worry this guy is a bust in the making but I have a feeling he’ll be gone by early in the 2nd round.
35. *David Yankey, G, Stanford: Versatile player. A lot of mocks have him going to Seattle at 32.
36. *Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU: He’s tough as nails and has the best hands out there. He raised his stock with a good bounce back pro day.
37. *Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA: Many argue he’s the best guard in the draft. If he falls to 58 he’s a strong contender to provide interior line depth.
38. (ALR) Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas: Likely won’t be versatile enough to attract Saints. Seems like a center only. If he falls to 4th round, though, the value might be too good to pass up.
39. (ALR) Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama: He’s huge but his knee is a red flag. If he’s available at 58 he may be too good to pass up, but rumor is some teams won’t draft him period due to injury concerns.
40. (ALR) Marcus Martin, C, USC: Can play guard or center and has nice size. May not move well enough to fit in the Saints’ screen game though.
41. (ALR) Keith McGill, CB, Utah: A 6’3″ corner? Yes please.
42. (ALR) Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: Despite the hype I wouldn’t take him until the 3rd round. Reminds me too much of Nick Toon.
43. (ALR) Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska: Another good player that’s 6’3″. His agility and quickness is a concern though.
44. (ALR) Dri Archer, RB, Kent State: The next Darren Sproles? If he’s still out there in the 4th-5th round I’d happily take him to compete with Travaris Cadet.
45. (ALR) Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State: Most people will tell you I have him way too low on this board. He has potential but with both guards older and the center situation unresolved the Saints should have him as a lower priority since he’ll likely be taken in the 2nd round.
46. (ALR) Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State: Has the movement and versatility to fit well in the Saints offense. Good pass blocker too. Would be a great 4th round pick.
47. (ALR) Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State: I don’t think he’s a great fit for the Saints but if he’s available in the 3rd round or later, he may be too good to pass up. He probably goes earlier than that though.
48. (ALR) Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi: I highly doubt he’ll end up in New Orleans. Another guy you look at only if he falls.
49. (ALR) Cairo Santos, K, Tulane: He just makes so much sense. I would take him in the 6th round.
50. (ALR) Bryan Stork, C, Florida State: A player the Saints have looked at. Seems like a good fit later in draft.