This might be the last mock I do. Again, it assumes the roster and picks the Saints currently have, so the addition of Adrian Peterson and Malcolm Butler might change things slightly.
1st round, 11th overall: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
He fell, so I took him. I was hoping for more of a speedy edge guy and moving Thomas inside on 3rd downs is less appealing when you have Rankins and Fairley, but I think he’s going to be a fantastic NFL player and the value was too good to pass up. Already gone were Garrett, Watson, Hooker, Adams, Lattimore, Trubisky, Allen, Fournette, Reddick and Foster. If defense wasn’t such a need, Mike Williams and John Ross were appealing. I also considered Derek Barnett, of course, and Christian McCaffery. Thomas probably won’t make it to 11, but if he does the Saints should sprint to the podium with his name card in hand.
1st round, 32nd overall: Ryan Ramczyk, T, Wisconsin
McCaffery is gone, so stop whining about that not being the pick. Hey, I wanted him too. I can hear some Saints fans already unhappy about this pick but you have to consider the future… maybe even the present. When do the wheels fall off on Zach Strief? And if they do, who plays right tackle? Because the Saints have made it abundantly clear that’s a problem for Andrus Peat for whatever reason. He just plays better on the left side. The Saints’ primary backup tackle, that can’t really play on the right side, is their starting left guard. Jon Stinchcomb was 30 when out of nowhere his body just decided overnight he couldn’t handle being a quality NFL player anymore. Fortunately the Saints had Strief ready to come in and replace him. Ramczyk was viewed by some as the best tackle in the draft but hip issues caused him to drop here. The Saints are a situation where he could be allowed to heal and prepare for his chance. Strief is 33 and probably a cap casualty next year (his release would save the Saints $4 million). The need for a right tackle is going to come very quickly, and an injury could force it to be 2017. Ramczyk is a fantastic value pick at 32 and fills a much bigger need for the Saints than you might first see.
2nd round, 42nd overall: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
I was kicking myself for passing on him at 32, so obviously I’m trilled to see him drop 10 more spots. The value here is tremendous and I’m fortunate to land such a good player at this point in the draft. He can compete to start for the Saints.
3rd round, 76th overall: Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M
I’ve checked the major boxes at DE and CB. Now I feel like I can pick good fits. Let’s be honest, safety, quarterback, wide receiver, running back, tight end, linebacker… all positions I could address at this point. They all need help. I could even double up on corner or edge. So now I just really want to help the team have good depth. Rafael Bush mitigated the need to draft at this position but I just love Justin Evans. I think he can compete with Vonn Bell for a starting spot. He’s also very versatile. He can run, he can hit, he can cover. He offers the Saints flexibility in that 3 safety look and puts them 4 deep (5 if you count Erik Harris) at a position they like to use. This would be a really fun toy for Dennis Allen to play with.
3rd round, 103rd overall: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
This is the first time I’ve taken a quarterback in any of these mocks. But the value felt good and I also felt good about what I did prior to this pick to allow me to go QB. I’m really coming around on Kaaya. His tape is frustrating but his offensive line was a mess and it made him gun shy. No question about it. Still, his arm talent is elite. Many thought he’d be the #1 QB in this class last year. I’ve been watching more interviews and I really like his personality. He’s serious, committed, respectful and driven. I think those are all things that will help him improve with Payton and Brees as his environment. This would force the Saints to keep 3 QBs on the roster in 2017 which I don’t love, but we have to be realistic about Brees’s contract situation and age. The end is nigh.
6th round, 196th overall: K. D. Cannon, WR, Baylor
I feel like I’ve done enough to help the defense so if I can give Sean Payton toys on offense I’m going to do it. Cannon has special teams ability and blazing speed. His field stretching ability is undeniable. The downside is he’s a little undersized and unpolished. It may take him time to develop, but some guys surprise you as quick adjusters. Could he be the next Kenny Stills for this offense? This feels like a mirror pickup to Ted Ginn, Jr. – but the Saints are thin on receivers after trading Cooks.
7th round, 229th overall: T. J. Logan, RB, North Carolina
I wanted McCaffery but it’ll have to be Logan instead. Another fun toy for Sean Payton and the offense. I believe Logan would beat out Cadet and Marcus Murphy as a returner / receiving back / x factor matchup player. No disrespect to those guys, they’ve got talent too, but I really like what Logan offers in that satellite back role. Very shifty, terrific hands, tough despite his lack of size, and decisive with his cuts like Sproles was.
4.0: Marshon Lattimore, Obi Melifonwu, Carl Lawson, Carlos Henderson, Duke Riley, Donnel Pumphrey, Jerry Ugokwe
3.0: Derek Barnett, Christian McCaffery, Tre’Davious White, Marcus Maye, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Jayon Brown, Jalen Robinette
2.0: Reuben Foster, Carl Lawson, Adam Shaheen, Dwayne Thomas, Trey Hendrickson, Greg Pyke
1.0: Derek Barnett, Tre’Davious White, Gerald Everett, Ethan Pocic, Hardy Nickerson, Tyus Bowser