What will the New Orleans Saints do in the 2014 NFL draft? Keep track of all the predictions made in our mock drafts leading up to Round 1 on May 8.
Round 1, pick 27: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
We said: The Saints clearly showed that when their primary cornerbacks were out of the game for any reason, the backups didn’t have what it takes to match up. They spent a pretty penny on Keenan Lewis in free agency last year and got good results, but when Jabari Greer went on injured reserve and was recently released, a clear opening was established. Fuller dealt with a sports hernia through his senior campaign, but clearly displayed at the combine that he’s recovered and ready to make any defense better.
Round 1, pick 27: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
We said: Last year, the Saints scored with Kenny Vaccaro. This year, they might receive just as much of a boost in the secondary. Roby displayed his sensational athleticism at the combine, topping out with a 4.39 40 time. Although he should have been better in 2013, he was not as bad as the buzz around him may have led everyone to believe.
O-line or wide receiver could be intriguing options for the Saints here, too. But the tackle value simply is not there to reach given how Terron Armstead played late last season.
Round 2, pick 58: Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
We said: It’s absurd to think a player with Bryant’s upside could slip to 58, yet it’s perfectly feasible.
Round 1, pick 27: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
We said: Unless the Saints are zeroing in on a defensive lineman they love, getting another option at offensive tackle seems like the smart play. Right tackle Zach Strief is eligible for free agency, and rookie left tackle Terron Armstead didn't remove the doubts regarding his future at the position in 2013. Moses has the athleticism and size to handle left tackle, and is thought pro-ready enough for the assignment of protecting Drew Brees' blindside. Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson could move into the late-round discussion with a strong showing at the combine.
Round 1, pick 27: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
We said: Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan knows how to bring the best out of pass rushers with all different dimensions, and in Ford he could have a new pass-rush presence to add to a defense that already brings pressure from several angles. Ford could play a Von Miller or Bruce Irvin role, excelling in various Sam linebacker concepts.
Round 1, pick 27: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
We said: Kouandjio has the potential and the pedigree — he was a multi-year starter at Alabama — to be a top-15 pick. This is just the way the board fell. (Arizona, at 20, was a rather clear possible landing spot for Kouandjio as well.)
The Saints benefit from the first 26 picks. Their 2013 third-round pick, Terron Armstead, still has some maturing to do at left tackle; Zach Strief’s set to become a free agent. Kouandjio may be a better fit, at first glance, for a team wanting to really grind the ball down the field. But New Orleans runs more than enough to take advantage of him there, while his strength as a pass-blocker would aid Drew Brees. The downside we’ve seen — Kouandjio slipping into unbalanced position to allow rushers to beat him — would be negated some by Brees’ ability to set and fire quickly.
Round 1, pick 30: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tenneessee
We said: Considered really going for broke with someone like Oregon RB DeAnthony Thomas here — he’d be the eventual replacement for Darren Sproles, who has one year left on his contract and has battled injuries in 2013. But the line, particularly in relation to RT Zach Strief, needs a boost. Richardson, though a tad raw, does his best work as a pass-blocker — no small note, given Drew Brees’ presence in New Orleans.
Round 1, pick 30: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
We said: The Saints have learned the rather painful lesson that you never can have enough linebacker depth, especially in a 3-4 formation. Van Noy probably needs to fill out to really thrive on the outside as a 3-4 guy, but his knack for finding the ballcarrier in the backfield would play well in Rob Ryan’s aggressive defense.
Round 1, pick 22: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
We said: Ziggy Ansah