Perfect Picks: New Orleans Saints
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight four players that could help each team. This will feature picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
With Drew Brees set to retire, we are entering a period of transition for the Saints. With little cap room and only five draft picks the front office will need to get creative to keep New Orleans competitive.
Round 1 - Pick 28 - Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
The Saints could benefit from upgrading the second level of their defense. While Demario Davis had a stellar season, he is approaching 33 and a long term replacement must be found. Alex Anzalone is solid if unspectacular, while the evergreen Malcolm Jenkins plays plenty of box safety on passing downs. It’s still unknown whether Zack Baun will be a fulltime ‘backer or edge rusher. Bringing in a true middle linebacker like Mizzou’s Nick Bolton would be a nice fit.
Bolton appears at first like the prototypical squat, midfield general who hits with a thump. His goal line stops and tackling in the run game are fearsome but there is more to him than that. When you switch to running downs his range and speed are somewhat unexpected from his frame. That true all round ability make him the ideal modern day linebacker and a potential first round pick.
Round 2 - Pick 60 - Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Whoever is the quarterback in New Orleans next year, adding to the wide receiver group will be essential. Michael Thomas missed large chunks of the season with injury but projects to be the number 1 target. Emanuel Sanders is 33 on the opposite side so an injection of youth wouldn’t go amiss.
Rondale Moore is a dynamic threat and would help either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston. They would be able to thrive on short completions that get Moore into space. He excels avoiding contact after the catch. Moore’s speed and electricity would rejuvenate Sean Payton’s offense. What jumps off the tape about Moore is his lack of fear. Even when lined up in the slot and asked to attack the middle of the field he doesn’t shirk big hits. The major question mark will be his durability and size, if you are comfortable with that then Moore is a no brainer.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 98 - Joe Tryon, DE, Washington
Trey Hendrickson had a breakout season in 2020 for the Saints. His 13.5 sacks came in a contract year and makes him a high profile free agent. That price may be too high for the Saints considering the picks used to move up and select Marcus Davenport in the 2018 draft. Davenport projects to start with Cam Jordan next year but restocking with another edge rusher like Joe Tryon would add depth.
Tryon opted out of the 2020 season making his evaluation a difficult one. He only put one truly strong season together for the Huskies. In 2019, he recorded 12.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. His long frame and speed as an edge rusher make him a fascinating projection. Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently included Tryon in his first official mock draft. That suggests he could be a prospect the league is higher on than the draftniks. A seemingly useful addition to the pass rush rotation in the Big Easy.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 133 - Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest
The Quarterback situation in New Orleans is one of the more intriguing in the league. Drew Brees hasn’t formally declared retirement, Taysom Hill has flashed potential but becoming a full time starter is an entirely different proposition. Finally, Jameis Winston sits in the wings awaiting redemption. If Brees does retire then taking a late round flier on a talent like Jamie Newman would be worth a shot.
Newman was all set to take the college world by storm this year having transferred to Georgia. However, in strange circumstances he opted out after seemingly losing the QB battle to JT Daniels. After a week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, Newman boosted his stock again and turned heads. He has a big arm and is the mobile QB NFL teams are searching for. Those traits alone make him worth a pick at this point of the draft.
Draft In Full:
28. Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
60. Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
98. Joe Tryon (DE, Washington)
105. Trill Williams (CB, Syracuse)
133. Jamie Newman (QB, Wake Forest)
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.