The Saints were going to pick Patrick Mahomes last year before the Chiefs jumped in front of them. They need a successor for Drew Brees, so it would make sense for them to take Lamar Jackson. Like Mahomes, Jackson has a big arm, and he's also extremely athletic. Jackson needs a lot of work, as he's very inconsistent with his accuracy and mechanics, but Sean Payton might believe that he can coach him up and have him ready to start in 2019 or 2020.
Rd. 3, Pk. 27
Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana
The Saints won't have Ted Ginn Jr. around much longer, while Willie Snead was a huge disappointment this past season. Here's another receiver to go with Michael Thomas.
Rd. 4, Pk. 27
Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State
The Saints could stand to add another edge rusher across from Cameron Jordan, as Alex Okafor is a free agent coming off a torn Achilles.
Rd. 5, Pk. 10
Tray Matthews, S, Auburn
The Saints might lose Kenny Vaccaro this offseason, so here's a possible replacement for the injury-prone safety.
Rd. 5, Pk. 27
Kendrick Norton, DT/NT, Miami
The Saints cut ties with Nick Fairley because of his unfortunate heart condition, so they could be looking for some mid-round depth for the defensive interior.
Rd. 6, Pk. 15
Josey Jewell, OLB/ILB, Iowa
Alex Anzalone is a talented player, but has an extensive injury history. The Saints should add some insurance.
Rd. 6, Pk. 27
Jamarcus King, CB, South Carolina
Teams are always looking for cornerback and edge-rushing depth. The Saints have yet to address the former position in this mock.
I know that Sean Payton likes the top-four quarterback prospects and a signal-caller is in play for New Orleans in the first or second round. Thus, don't be surprised if the Saints take Deshaun Watson or Pat Mahomes here. They also could target Davis Webb in the second round. However, the Saints could use a few cornerback upgrades and a true No. 1. I think New Orleans will target Marshon Lattimore or Marlon Humphrey as that No. 1 corner.
Humphrey has height, length and athleticism. The 6-foot, 197-pounder is a very good cover corner with size, quick feet, loose hips to turn and run, and physicality. He is very good at running the route and preventing separation. The one flaw that Humphrey has is playing the ball as there were receptions he allowed when he was in good position but didn't play the ball well over him. That could be corrected with good coaching. Surveying teams across the league, Humphrey and Marcus Lattimore are the consensus top corners.
Humphrey totaled 33 tackles with two tackles for a loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups in 2016. To open the year, Humphrey put together an excellent game against USC as he shut down wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, holding him to one catch for nine yards. Humphrey also had an interception returned 18 yards for a touchdown and a tackle for a loss in the contest. Aside from one mistake, Humphrey was very good at defending Washington speedster John Ross in their playoff matchup. Against Clemson and Mike Williams, Humphrey did well covering Williams overall but did allow some receptions over him.
After redshirting in 2014, Humphrey had an excellent debut to help Alabama win the 2015 season's National Championship. He earned a starting job across from Cyrus Jones and was the Crimson Tide's top corner. In 2015, Humphrey totaled 45 tackles with three interceptions and eight passes broken up. He was an Alabama legacy as the son of Bobby Humphrey, a former first-rounder who played for the Dolphins and Broncos.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Taco Charlton, DE/3-4OLB, Michigan
If Obi Melifonwu is available I think the Saints would be ecstatic and run the card up there. There is a good chance, however, that Melifonwu will be off the board. The Saints could use another edge rusher upgrade. Here's an end to pair with Cam Jordan. From what I've heard the Saints love Charlton, so I don't think they would pass on him. That being said, you can't rule out a quarterback.
Entering the 2016 season, Charlton flashed for Michigan but was mainly a backup and also was used inside at tackle. In 2016 though, he racked up 9.5 sacks, 43 tackles and 13 tackles for a loss as the bookend defensive end with the stout Chris Wormley. The 6-foot-6, 277-pounder Charlton is athletic with versatile size and length to be a base end in a 4-3 defense or a standup linebacker in a 3-4.
Charlton is fast, explosive and has serious upside to develop in the NFL. Teams feel he could go top-10 and should go in the top half of the first round.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The Saints could use multiple cornerback upgrades. This pick could also be Davis Webb as they are looking hard at getting a young quarterback.
Jones would have been a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft if it weren't for a torn Achilles suffered at his pro day. That injury could cost him his rookie season and drop him a few rounds this week.
In 2016, Jones recorded 39 tackles with six passes broken up, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was superb as a cover corner for the Huskies. The 6-foot, 186-pounder finished the year by shutting down Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Jones has excellent feet, quickness, and fluid athleticism to run with receivers and prevent separation.
Jones had an excellent 2015 season as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation. For the year, he recorded 10 passes broken up, four interceptions, 45 tackles and three forced fumbles. He also showed coverage skills as a freshman with five pass breakups and two picks.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Duke Riley, OLB/ILB, LSU
The Saints grab some linebacker competiton.
Riley (6-0, 232) was a backup before coming on as a senior. He had an impressive game against Alabama in 2016 and got better as the year progressed. Riley totaled 93 tackles with nine for a loss, 1.5 sacks, one pass batted and one interception for the season.
Riley is a fast and physical linebacker who would fit as a Will - weakside - linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama
The Saints grab a receiver to help replace Brandin Cooks.
Stewart (5-11, 204) is a sleeper receiver who could be a nice value pick. He totaled 54 receptions for 864 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. Stewart is tough recevier with functional speed. Teams are grading Stewart as a late second-round to early third-round pick.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Javarius Leamon, OT, South Carolina State
The Saints grab some offensive line depth. Leamon is a great athlete who could be another Terron Armstead.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan
The Saints get more secondary competition and hosted Stribling.
I thought Stephone Anthony had major bust potential, and unfortunately for the Saints, that feeling was proven right. The Saints could use an upgrade at Will linebacker, and Evans would form a talented tandem if Alex Anzalone can finally avoid injury. Given Anzalone's fragile health, drafting a linebacker makes even more sense for New Orleans. <br> <br>
In 2017, Evans totaled 74 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one forced fumble and three passes broken up. The 6-foot-3, 231-pounder possesses an impressive skill set with size and speed. The senior did well rushing off the edge for Alabama in 2017. Evans was a backup in 2014 and 2015 before rotating onto the field during the 2016 season. As a junior, he totaled 53 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two passes broken up and one forced fumble. Some teams have medical concerns with Evans.
the saints probably had the most exciting and shocking season in the whole league. after going 7-9 the past three season they shocked the world finishing 11-5 after starting off 0-2. the defense made remarkable strides as lattimore and Williams made huge rookie impacts proving themselves of po bowl potential (even though lattimore made it this year already) the only thing lacking was speed and yoputh in the linebacking corps as Alex anzalone was taken out early in the season. and what do you now thats exactly what Jefferson brings. why he may not be polished he has the best potential out of all the linebackers and is also probably the most athletic. put him in that uprising saints defense and we should be looking at a future superstar.
The Saints could easily have taken Pat Mahomes last year if he hadn't been taken one selection ahead of them. Drew Brees is expected back, but they are also keeping an eye on the future. Jackson has a lot of similarities to Mahomes, so Jackson could be a fit for New Orleans late in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.<br> <br>
In 2017, Jackson completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also averaged 6.9 yards per carry on the ground on his way to 1,443 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Some team sources think that Jackson is worthy of being a top-10 pick and will rise in the leadup to the 2018 NFL Draft, similar to Pat Mahomes last year. One general manager told me they think Jackson could be deserving of going high in the first round because he's a taller and better version of Michael Vick. In speaking to multiple league sources including a few general managers, they think Jackson is being undervalued right now similar to Deshaun Watson a year ago. <br> <br>
Jackson has a great athletic skill set, including a powerful arm that can make all throws the NFL requires and some rare passes. While his tremendous running ability gets a lot of attention, Jackson is better passing from the pocket than he is given credit for. Jackson will take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. He also handled Bobby Petrino's scheme well. Jackson can be inconsistent with his accuracy, and he needs to add weight to his frame for the NFL. He also needs to develop maturity in his leadership skills as he can be of one of the guys too much. <br> <br>
Jackson (6-2, 216) set college football on fire in 2016 while winning the Heisman Trophy. He was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.
The Saints expressed interest in drafting an edge rusher with one of their early picks in last years draft, but that opportunity did not seem to come to them with some players falling to them. Late round rookie Trey Hendrickson may turn into a difference maker, but I suspect he is more of a rotational piece. They could still use a dominant pass rusher to pair up with Cam Jordan since former 2nd rounder Hau'oli Kikaha has yet to really flash. Landry could have been a borderline first rounder last year, but being a smart kid from Boston College he probably realized he needs more seasoning. He is a big powerful edge rusher who can stop the run while also using terrific bend to get around the edge. I think he would be a great compliment to Jordan who is more of a speed rusher.
Last Weeks Selection: Malik Jefferson LB Texas at Pick # 11
The Saints have to be grateful with how loyal Drew Brees is with resigning with them. If he really wanted to he could have them in an iron fist asking for a huge pay day since they have no secession plan in place. They should try to find a possible developmental quarterback for the future. Mason Rudolph is a love/hate prospect from the offense he is coming out of. However, he does have good arm talent, and mobility that can be molded into a solid starter over time.
Last Mock Pick: Mike White QB Western Kentucky