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Saints Nation Mailbag 4/20/17 – Most overrated and underrated Saints draft prospects

From Facebook:

Phillip Lazaro Which player on our roster is prime for a breakthrough year in 2017?

Gotta say it’s cool to see Phillip send in a question and support the blog. I went to high school with him at St. Paul’s in Covington and always really enjoy his comments/support.  Glad you’ve stayed a diehard Saints fan all these years, man. As far as primed for a breakthrough, I’m going with Vonn Bell. He had impressive moments last year without every really doing anything eye popping statistically. I think the Saints were partially comfortable letting Jairus Byrd walk because they really felt they had their heir apparent at that position in Bell and I think Bell played better as the year progressed. With Byrd gone the free safety job is entirely Bell’s. Bell’s write up out of college really touted his quickness, read on the ball, ball skills and coverage ability. We saw some of that but I think he’ll be a lot more comfortable in year two being the clear starter and getting all those primary reps in camp. Expect him to make a lot more plays this year, in my opinion.

Ryan Dodd How much improvement do you foresee Von Bell making? Do you think he is the answer at free safety?

See my answer above! Yeah, I’m expecting big things. I think he’s going to make a major jump this year.

Asher Joseph Silbermann Who is the one player the saints are counting on heavily this year that you feel most uneasy about? For me its (insert banged up corner-back here).

You make a good point. I barely trust Delvin Breaux due to his inability to stay healthy for long periods… so yeah, anyone opposite him worries me even more. That’s why I’m so behind this Malcolm Butler acquisition. Coby Fleener would be my answer on offense. I just think he’ll see an uptick in targets with Brandin Cooks gone (not that they do similar things, but it’s one less high volume playmaker to keep happy) and I don’t want to see more of Fleener. After last season I just don’t trust him to show consistency.

 

From Twitter:

I think Christian McCaffery is a blend of Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles. I definitely see a lot of what they brought to the table in McCaffery. He’s a clear fit in this offense and would make a major impact if drafted. I don’t see your Haason Reddick – Rickey Jackson comparison exactly because while I think Reddick is a do it all linebacker that can incorporate pass rushing into his skillset, I don’t see him as a dominant pass rusher like Jackson who was virtually unblockable. Jackson is a tough comparison for any rookie, to be fair, we’re talking about one of the top 3 best Saints of all time. Cam Robinson of Auburn reminds me a lot of Jammal Brown – there’s a random one for you. Similar size guys that are just great athletes and powerful, I think he could be a Pro Bowler like Brown was.

Well I’m a big LSU fan so I’m very curious to see where Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Tre’Davious White, Ethan Pocic, Kendall Beckwith, Duke Riley, Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre, Dwayne Thomas, Davon Godchaux, Lewis Neal and Tashawn Bower go. Definitely paying close attention to where all those guys go, and if they’re not with the Saints I want them out of the NFC South. There was nothing worse than watching Deion Jones run back a Drew Brees pick six for the Falcons last year. The Saints haven’t taken an LSU player since Al Woods in 2010, so I’d love to see one of those guys with the Saints. Particularly Tre’ White, who I think could really help the team. Ignoring my blatant homerism for a minute I’ve made no secret how much I’ve liked Derek Barnett for years. I’ve literally been calling for the Saints to draft him since two years ago.  I’ve always respected him as a tremendous SEC pass rusher that’s fun to watch, it’s funny he’s finally in the draft and a very real possibility for the Saints at 11 now. I really like watching Budda Baker, too. Just a tough small player with a great nose for the football. He’s so much fun to watch, a total gamer. Someone will be happy to land those two guys.

Least favorite is probably Reuben Foster. First, he went to Alabama. Second, Saints fans drool all over him but I can’t get past the injury and character question marks. I don’t know the kid and I don’t judge him for what went down at the combine, but when you have a guy sent home from the combine – it’s just bad awareness on his part. You can’t show your ass in that setting. I’m just risk adverse and I don’t think you take a guy at 11 that has issues with health AND his head being on straight. No way I take that risk. I’d take him at 32 or later, for sure, but not at 11. I need to be close to certain at 11 you’ll be awesome on and off the field. I don’t like Evan Engram of Ole Miss, I think he’s massively overrated. He’s not a receiver and he’s too small to play tight end. I don’t think he translates at the NFL level.

Well the Saints can’t fill every need, so the question is which will they ignore? I just don’t see the Saints going through this draft without taking a pass rusher and corner. So I’ll say safety. I think they’ll be forced to roll with Bell, Kenny Vaccaro, Rafael Bush and Erik Harris. If they sustain an injury to either starter they could be in big trouble. But I’d be very concerned if no running back or offensive tackle was taken. Receiver would be nice too. There’s actually more needs on offense than we realize, in terms of depth.

I think O. J. Howard isn’t being talked about enough. I don’t think the Saints will take him because there’s just too many needs elsewhere, but I think he’s the next Tony Gonzalez. Honestly if someone took Howard top 5 I wouldn’t blame a team at all. I think he’ll be a Hall of Fame tight end. He’s just the most complete tight end prospect I’ve ever seen. He’s excellent in all areas and it’s truly impressive. I say this as an LSU fan. So he’s my most underrated. Most overrated? Not even a question. Mitchell Trubisky. DeShone Kizer is a close second. I feel bad for whoever takes them way too high.

Of course! This seems to happen every year. I was furious when the Panthers took Star Lotulelei one pick ahead of the Saints. I felt the same way when the Browns took Danny Shelton one pick ahead of the Saints. I was hopeful Vic Beasley, Jr. might fall to the Saints, too, but the Falcons made sure that didn’t happen. I feel good about 11, though. I think Solomon Thomas, Derek Barnett, Haason Reddick, Marshon Lattimore… at least one of those four will be there at 11 and I’d be thrilled with any of them. I’d be fine taking Christian McCaffery at 11, too.

The Saints have so many vets on the team this year I think it’ll be tougher for longshots to make it. I’ll say Jesse Schmitt, the long snapper. The Saints have not yet re-signed Justin Drescher so they seem fine rolling with Schmitt for now, maybe competing with tight end Garrett Griffin as the long snapper. Receiver Corey Fuller is one to watch as well.