With the NFL Combine only a few days away, I think it’s time to put out my first official Saints Mock Draft. Mind you, this is pre-combine and based on current needs of the New Orleans Saints and the priority that they should be addressed. This is a straight mock draft, meaning no trades or players or picks. So without further ado, here we go:
1st Rd, 28th pick: Jason Verrett CB, TCU
With the release of Jabari Greer and the lack of production from Patrick Robinson and the lack of skill at the position from Corey White, the Saints need a shutdown corner to go alongside Keenan Lewis. It’s time to revamp the secondary and this is the first step. Don’t let Verrett’s size fool you (5’10” 176lbs), he has almost perfect technique and will cover any team’s #1 WR without fear. He’s a gritty competitor and isn’t afraid to come up and shut down the run.
2nd Rd, 56th Pick: Morgan Moses OT, Virginia
It looks unlikely that the Saints will re-sign team captain and veteran OT Zach Strief and need to continue to get younger and faster on the offensive line. Moses (6’6″ 325lbs) has the ability to play both left and right tackle and does a very good job in pass blocking situations. More than likely one of the steals of the draft if he’s available at this point.
3rd Rd, 84th pick: Adrian Hubbard OLB, Alabama
At 6’6″ 252lbs, Hubbard would be a perfect fit for Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Ryan likes big linebackers that can pass rush and stop the outside run. Normally he goes for converted DEs who are around 260lbs and 275lbs with good speed and strength, but I believe Ryan will overlook the weight in this case. There have been questions about character issues Hubbard and I don’t believe that will be a problem in NOLA. Junior Galette was recently on a local radio show saying that Rob Ryan gives his players the ability to tailor the defense to suit their abilities. That would be great for Hubbard. Look for him to be an impact player if drafted at this spot.
4th Rd, 112th pick: Josh Huff WR, Oregon
Another playmaker for the Sean Payton offense. There was a lack of production from the WRs during the regular season and it definitely showed in the playoffs. Adding a Percy Harvin type playmaker to the offense who primarily lines up at WR would fill that void to a certain degree. The losses of Lance Moore and Robert Meachem would open roster spots for Huff. Huff likes to line up in the slot a lot and run routes close to the seam. Combine that with Jimmy Graham running seam routes on the other side of the formation and that gives the Saints a nice dual threat that LBs and Safeties will have some difficulty handling. Huff is a converted RB, so he can still line up in the back field if needed and bring added packages that the Saints weren’t able to use in years prior. Albeit if the Saints make this pick and he’s productive in the first year, the writing will be on the wall for Darren Sproles. Huff would also add more youth to the WR corps along with Joe Morgan, Kenny Stills, and Nick Toon.
5th Rd, 140th pick: Deandre Coleman DL, Cal
For years Cal has run a 3-4 defensive front. Hence why Cam Jordan had so much success this past season. Bringing in another prototypical 3-4 DE with good size (6’5″ 315lbs) and strength would begin adding depth to the D-Line. Coleman would either be asked to sub in for Akiem Hicks or he would become a starter which would move Hicks to the NT position and would essentiall spell the end for Brodrick Bunkley. Coleman, a senior, was a Captain for the Cal Bears this past season and adding that maturity and leadership to the Saints defense will only make it better.
6th Rd, 168th pick: Max Bullough ILB, Michigan State
Bullough would be the perfect player to end the Saints’ draft with. He’s your prototypical ILB, he’s smart, physical, fast, a competitor, and a leader. The Spartans had one of, if not the best defense in college football the last two seasons and in the middle of all that was Bullough. A 3-year starter at ILB, and a 2-year team captain, Bullough has been on several All-American, and All-Conference lists. A Luke Kuechly type player and leader. And at 6’3″ 245lbs he’s a nice fit for the ILB position next to Curtis Lofton.
Great draft, right? Combine that with the in drafted free agents the team will pick up, most notably QB Connor Shaw from South Carolina, and the Saints will have an A+ drafting season. Couple all of this with another offseason of preparation under the belt of the Rob Ryan defense and not as many injuries as last season and the Saints will be poised for another 13 win season.