Let the games begin. The first installment of the New Orleans Saints mock drafts is released. This is the season of mock draft deluge from ESPN to CBS. Actually, the plethora of mock drafts come with a “buyer beware” caution sign along with it. While picking the exact trifecta of the first three picks is practically impossible. Picking all seven is about as likely as getting struck by a meteor twice in a week. Still, the talk is fun and entertaining. However, the obvious pick of quarterback for the last few years should present a bright red flag. Basically, those mock draft sites are no doubt looking for “pick for clicks.” To be clear, sifting through the mocks delivering free entertainment is harmless if it strikes your fancy.
New Orleans Saints 2022 Mock Draft 1.0
But don’t be disappointed if the Saints don’t draft a quarterback and seven wide receivers with a cornerback. Also, the draft picks after the fourth round may not show up on the ESPN big board or the Pro Football Focus top 250. Teams often go off the grid in the later rounds. The Saints, for example, got a pretty good player undrafted running back Pierre Thomas just name one. And wide receiver Marques Colston came in the seventh round, to turn out to be one of the best receivers in Saints history. The Saints have eight draft picks including three compensatory picks. Here is the first installment.
Round 1: Cornerback Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, Cincinnati
Gardner stands at 6-foot-3 weighing 200 pounds — a good size for an NFL cornerback. The Saints need another lockdown corner on the other side versus Marshon Lattimore. And Gardner is the guy possessing the athleticism, speed and change of direction to solidify the secondary. He has the physical mindset to jab wide receivers right off the line making their movements downfield quicksand-like. More than anything, he creates chaos using his instincts. Jumping routes at the right time to make plays is critical at the next level.
Round Two: Offensive Tackle Darrian Kinnard, Kentucky
Darrian Kinnard is one of my favorite players in my first Saints mock draft. He was present at the Senior Bowl and did not disappoint. Kinnard is the real deal and the total package. The only issue with Kinnard is the availability in the middle of the second round. The Saints are always moving up to get a player to crush on. Kinnard is one of those players.
Kinnard comes from the SEC playing for Kentucky at right tackle. He has nice size and proportion to be able to leverage opponents. Surely, Kinnard could play inside at guard to be able to use his power. Could use improvement on lateral movement and sliding outside for pass blocking. But make no mistake, Kinnard is an unrelenting assassin reliable to play 100% all the time.
Round Three Compensatory Pick: Running Back Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Having a new coach Dennis Allen means a different philosophy. The defensive-minded coach will look to dominate and maul offenses. And there’s no reason to believe otherwise on the offensive end. The Saints could use a young bowling ball back for the short third down plays. Getting the tough yards when the defense is stacked is more than critical down the stretch. Kenneth Walker III fits the profile. Walker is a 5-foot-10 low rider carrying 210 pounds to bulldoze defenders into submission. Nothing more enticing to an aggressive defense than a guy running over people on offense. Walker is the king of pain.
Round Four: Wide Receiver Christian Watson, North Dakota St.
Saints finally add a player to their wide receiver corps. Christian Watson stands out to be a healthy target in the NFL. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 211 pounds gives room for plenty of growth in his frame. And Watson will be much better having a filled-out frame. He’s a guy wanting to prove himself coming from an FCS school in North Dakota St. The Bisons were the only team that gave him a scholarship offer from high school. Great speed with plenty of acceleration. He’s averaged over 20 yards a catch in the last couple of years. And he can play as a kickoff returner as well. Scoring twice in the 2020 season. Also, he’s running the ball on some plays to add to his resume. He can score from anywhere. Deep threat with size provides plenty of mismatches.
Round Four Compensatory Pick: Defensive Tackle Matthew Butler, Tennessee
Matthew Butler is a guy who raised his draft stock tremendously after the East-West Shrine Bowl. Mentioned as one of the best players during the game and could be the first player from the Tennessee Volunteers to be drafted. He’s measured at 6-foot-3 with plenty of gravity at 299 pounds. He played in 53 games at Tennessee, amassing 47 tackles and five sacks. Butler proved his worth to the highest degree in one-on-one drills. Butler is another player rising so fast — may be a steal this late in the NFL Draft. Regardless, the Saints adding a guy in the middle to stuff the run and cause havoc would be welcomed. Improvement on getting on blocks is something to work on going into the NFL. A great value pick in round four.
Round Five Pick: Linebacker Quay Walker, Georgia
Walker came out of high school very highly recruited. Plenty of size at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. Solid player who has the potential to become a late value pick. great vision for the field. Walker will have to make a case on special teams to play in the NFL. Great coverage on the run. Improvement needed to be a coverage linebacker.
Round Six Compensatory Pick: Quarterback EJ Perry, Brown
It’s been a long time since a player from Brown University was called in the NFL Draft. But EJ Perry turned heads at the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas. Doubt exists because of the lack of competition at the FCS level. But Perry squashed many of the naysayers in the performance. Perry possesses the arm talent to make any throw. He can fit a football in where needed. Late round pick who can push Ian Book for a roster spot. Perhaps a practice squad player with plenty of upside.
Round Seven Pick: Offensive lineman Adrian Ealy, Oklahoma
A local guy from Louisiana played at Ascension High School. Always a plus for a potential draft pick for the Saints. He’s a guy in the developmental stage looking for a place to prove himself. Huge possibility Ealy ends up being a priority undrafted free agent. Still, Ealy flashed playing at Oklahoma. He is very tall 6-foot-6 weighing only 321 pounds. A Lengthy frame providing extra space for pass protection. Great strength for his size. Excellent character for the locker room. A long shot but may surprise you with the right team.
Embed from Getty Images