First Mock Draft Has New Orleans Saints Filling Much Needed Holes
I know it's early and the NFL season hasn't even finished yet, but it's always fun to see what players the Saints could possibly add in this year's draft.
As it sits right now the Saints don't have a first-round pick in this year's draft. We packaged it with other picks to move up and select Chris Olave. However, everyone is expecting for Sean Payton to return to coaching and Mickey Loomis has already said that teams will have to agree upon draft pick compensation deal before they will get permission to talk to Payton (who's under contract with the Saints until 2024).
Here's my scenario: Sean Payton currently lives in Los Angeles. The word on the street is that he wants to coach near a beach and golf courses. I know Brandon Staley has done a decent job with the Chargers, but they've been "mid" under his tenure and they just blew a 27-point lead to lose a playoff game to the Jaguars. Even though that's not all his fault, it's the perfect excuse to fire him for Sean Payton. Sean gets to stay in L.A. and he gets a young superstar QB, in Justin Herbert, with tons of weapons on offense and defense.
It's a win-win situation for both teams. The Chargers get an offense genius at head coach to bring them to the promised land and the Saints receive a first-round pick (R1:24) this year and probably several picks over the next few years possibly including the Chargers' first-round pick next year.
Here's My 2023 New Orleans Saints Mock Draft:
**WARNING - Most of these highlight videos will be NSFW**
ROUND 1 - PICK 24:
With the twenty-fourth pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select, Bijan Robinson, running back, Texas University.
Robinson is 220 pounds of downhill running. We need a bruising running back to compliment Kamara and Robinson is just too hard to pass up with the 24th pick. PFF says I reached on this pick, but he's perfect for the Saints and can start day one in the backfield rotation.
In his freshman season Bijan ran for over eight yards a carry, in his sophomore season he ran for 5.8 ypc, and this last season Robinson racked up over six yards per carry.
Here's what Pro Football Focus said about Bijan Robinson:
Robinson has such an uncanny ability to stop and start for a 220-pound man. And once he reaches top speed, good luck trying to tackle him. Robinson set the PFF college record with 104 broken tackles during the 2022 season.
ROUND 2 - PICK 40:
With the fortieth pick in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select, Drew Sanders, linebacker, Arkansas University.
Sanders is an Alabama transfer that shined at Arkansas this past season totaling 103 tackles. He possesses sideline-to-sideline speed and has great instinct. He also protects the middle of the field with sheer explosive violence and punishes players for crossing paths with him. Sanders will be a great student under Demario Davis and eventually be his replacement. The perfect compliment to Werner and Ellis.
Here's what Pro Football Focus said about Drew Sanders:
Sanders started his career as an edge-rusher at Alabama before transferring to Arkansas and moving off-ball this past fall. He flourished in that role as his range and ability to take on blocks shined. He collected 11 sacks and 39 total pressures as a blitzer alone in 2022.
ROUND 3 - PICK 71:
With the seventy-first pick in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select, Hendon Hooker, quarterback, Tennessee University.
Hooker is a Virginia Tech transfer to Tennessee. He's put up monster numbers in his two seasons for the Vols and showed us he's NFL-ready.
It's no secret that the Saints need a franchise quarterback. In this mock draft, there were no QBs at the time that warranted a first-round pick, that's why I went running back.
Obviously, the big reason he slipped on so many teams' mock draft boards was his torn ACL injury. This type of injury is always a gamble on drafting a player that hasn't proven they can come back and play at the same level after being hurt. However, if Hookers slips down to the third round we have to select him. I'll point out that Joe Burrow shredded every ligament in his knee and is still playing at a very caliber.
In the last two seasons, Hooker has thrown for 58 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. His overall career total is 82 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. This guy takes care of the ball and has a big arm to make all the throws in the NFL.
My hopes are that we can sign Andy Dalton to another one-year or two-year deal and ease Hendon into the starting role.
Here's what NFL Draft Buzz had to say about Hendon Hooker:
Hooker is a quality prospect who has faced adversity during his college career. He possesses excellent athletic talent, has a strong arm, and has the power to make all the requisite throws at the next level, he also is a decent runner who is always a threat on the move.
ROUND 4 - PICK 115:
Ruke Orhorhoro is a force up the middle. With several players not being expected to be resigned on the defensive line, Ruke would be a great addition and fit for our defensive philosophy. He's tough on the run and has the speed of the snap and wiggle to get to the quarterback.
Here's what NFL Draft Buzz says about Ruke Orhorhoro:
- Shows a natural feel for setting up blockers and getting them off-balance. His hands are active and violent, and Orhorhoro quickly disengages with blockers and counters when his initial move stalls.
- Lower than offensive lineman on every short-yardage play. Good agility and the ability to change direction for his size.
- Tall, solid frame with adequate length and has done a nice job losing the bad weight and firming his body.
- Orhorhoro is strong enough in the lower body to hold up at the point of attack, and he displays a good feel as a grappler in the phone booth, consistently getting blockers off-balance before sending them to the ground.
- Played with lean and leverage against the run, tough for one man to move (sometimes double-teams, too).
- Orhorhoro has lateral agility and balance to cover two gaps, and he shows some good closing burst when moving down the line in pursuit.
ROUND 5 - PICK 147:
This is an absolute steal in the fifth round. Could Rashad Torrence II from Flordia be our new Ceedy Duece? Not only did he wear #22 at Flordia, but he just oozes swagger and confidence like Garnder-Johnson.
With an aging Honey Badger and with Marus Maye showing us he can't play a full season after coming off of an injury season with the Jets two years ago, we need young safeties to fill the void. Torrence has good coverage skills and he will be a defensive backfield enforcer in the NFL. He'll be one of those players that give slot receivers nightmares before they play the Saints.
Here's what NFL Draft Buzz says about Rashard Torrence II:
- Quicker than Torrence is fast but has a burst to close in zone coverage and plays physical at the line in man.
- Great on route recognition and has click-and-close ability
- Is an explosive mover with quickness and speed. He’s at his best attacking downhill, shooting gaps in run support, and disrupting the backfield.
- Has quick feet and excellent change-of-direction ability, capable of mirroring quickness underneath.
- Eager to come downhill as a tackler and plays with a physical edge, and he’s effective as a blitzer.
ROUND 5 - PICK 167:
The Saints need big-time help with the offensive line. Andreas Peat is forever getting hurt and several other starting linemen missed games this season. Patrick Paul from Houston University would be a great value pick-up here in the fifth round. The kid is huge standing 6 foot 7 inches tall and weighs 310 pounds.
Here's some of what NFL Draft Buzz says about Patrick Paul:
- In pass protection, Paul flashes a strong initial punch and typically has good hand placement.
- Best on the outside because of his height and athleticism, but is capable of blocking on the move.
- He’s a fluid mover in pass protection, with great coordination between his upper and lower body. Paul sets with a wide base, has the requisite core strength and plays with natural balance, capable of sitting back and handling power.
- Possesses a long, lean, athletic body with plenty of room for additional muscle mass. Long arms.
- Paul is a work in progress with high-end physical traits. He’s extremely light on his feet for a 300-pounder, a natural knee-bender who plays with balance and leverage.
- He’ll appeal to man-blocking teams, and he’s a fairly high-upside developmental pick when considering his value in the run game.
ROUND 6 - PICK 186:
I gotta admit, this was a homer pick. I know the Saints need edge rushers and I saw an LSU player and pulled the trigger. Cameron Jordan is aging and from what I hear the Saints may not resign Marcus Davenport.
Ali Gaye is a decent value pick in the sixth round. He's a player that can benefit from NFL coaching and reps. With that being said, he was a very important piece in the Tiger defense this past season and deserves a chance to make an NFL team.
Mikey O's Favorite Saints Players