Five Possible First Round Prospects for the Saints
The 2023 NFL draft is set to take place on April 27 and Who Dat nation is fired up to add some promising young prospects to what many consider to be the best team in the NFC South. That’s why I'm going to give five prospects that I think the Saints should consider drafting in the first round. Now this list is based on who will be available at the 29th pick, positions that need to be addressed, and several insider projections. With Derek Carr now cemented as our starting quarterback for the next four years, the Saints can focus their first-round pick on other positions. This list is in no particular order, let's get started.
- Lukas Van Ness- DL, Iowa
I really like this guy with the 29th pick in the draft. He is a 6-5 270 lbs defensive lineman who ran a 4.58 40-yard dash in the combine. Don’t let that 270 lbs fool you, Lukas is absolutely shredded and is an absolute freak athlete. He would be a great pick for the Saints considering the defensive line is the one spot where the Saints could use the most help. He racked up 6.5 sacks from the DL spot and recorded 2nd All-Big Ten honors in 2022. He would pair nicely with the newly extended Tanoh Kpassahnon. This duo would give the Saints a nice combo of strength and speed on the interior. The only downside is that his stock is quickly rising and I'm not sure if he will make it to the 29th pick.
- Michael Mayer- TE, Notre Dame.
The Saints are not particularly hurting at the tight end position but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add another physical receiving threat. With Micheal Thomas’s uncertainty, the Saints don’t have that big physical pass-catching threat that they have had in past years with Ben Watson and Jimmy Graham. Mayer stands at 6-4 249 lbs and clocked a 4.7 40-yard dash time. He recorded back-to-back 800-plus receiving seasons with the Irish and even set the school record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season. He racked up nearly 300 catches and 18 touchdowns in three seasons. He would become another young target for Derek Carr to throw to along with Chirs Olave and Rashid Shaheed.
- Siaki Ida- DL, Baylor
I went defensive line again because I believe this is where the Saints need the most improvement. Ika doesn’t have the speed or pass-rushing ability of Ven Ness but at 6-4, 358 lbs he an absolute unit in the run game. When the Saints have been at their absolute best on defense, they have always had a top-ten rushing defense. We saw that get exposed at times last season when bigger backs like Cordarrelle Patterson gashed us in week one. Ika was a first-team All-Big 12 conference selection last season and I believe he could add some much-needed muscle in the run game.
- Jahmyr Gibbs – RB, Alabama
Now hear me out on this one. I know that taking a running back in the first round is normally a big no, but this pick would have a little strategy behind it. The Saints are going to have several games without their star back, Alvin Kamara. We aren’t sure how much time he is going to miss just yet but the team needed to get a solid number 2 anyways. This draft has plenty of great options, so why not grab two? The Saints could grab Gibbs in the first round, who is a very talented back in and out of the backfield. This would allow them the opportunity to draft another back in the later rounds such as Deuce Vaughn or Tyjae Spears. While I think this is one of the least likely options, it’s a strategy nonetheless.
- O’Cyrus Torrence- G, Florida
The 6-5 330 lbs offensive lineman is quickly gaining a lot of draft stock as he made his case for the best offensive lineman in the SEC last season. It’s not a surprise that the Saints really struggled in pass protection last season. No matter if it was Winston or Dalton taking snaps, they always seemed to be under heavy pressure. Torrence didn’t allow a single sack his entire college career, let that sink in. He would give a huge boost to the Saints’ pass protection He was a 2022 first-time All-SEC pick and an All-American pick as well.
I believe any of these prospects could make solid first-round selections. Who do you think the Saints should choose with the 29th pick in the draft?