Saints Mock Draft 2021: Deciding on a First Round Option

The great debate ensues on what the Saints will do in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.
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Mock Draft madness tends to run rampant at this time of the NFL season, as there's a pretty big lull in the league year leading up to the schedule release and draft. There's going to be a ton of rumors and nuggets that fly leading up until then, and we can only anticipate what the Saints do with their 28th overall pick. Naturally, seeing them stay put seems unsettling, as past draft tendencies have suggested.

We'll assume that things stay the way they are as we get through the first round only in this opening mock. Here's how the picks went before New Orleans got to the podium.

The Picks Before

  1. Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
  2. Jets - Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
  3. 49ers - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
  4. Falcons - Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
  5. Bengals - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
  6. Dolphins - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
  7. Lions - Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
  8. Panthers - Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
  9. Broncos - Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
  10. Cowboys - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
  11. Giants - De'Vonta Smith, WR, Alabama
  12. Eagles - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
  13. Chargers - Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
  14. Vikings - Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
  15. Patriots - Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
  16. Cardinals - Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
  17. Raiders - Caleb Fairley, CB, Virginia Tech
  18. Dolphins - Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
  19. Washington Football Team - Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
  20. Bears - Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
  21. Colts - Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
  22. Titans - Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
  23. Jets - Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
  24. Steelers - Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
  25. Jaguars - Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
  26. Browns - Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
  27. Ravens - Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

Saints - On the Clock

Here's the full list of top ranked prospects who were on the board with the Saints up at 28th overall.

  • Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
  • Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
  • Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
  • Walker Little, OT, Stanford
  • Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
  • Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

With the exception of offensive tackle, you could make an argument for any position here as being a prominent need, but defensively feels like the greater area to add. Two cornerbacks are available here, and both would be really appealing. We're going to have to look at this Saints draft with a crystal ball in the sense that they could fill either linebacker or cornerback with an available free agent.

The Case for Linebacker - Aside Demario Davis, there's not a ton of confidence that spills out on what the Saints have there. There's been some buzz about Chase Hansen, while Zack Baun could also make a big progression into next season. There's also still a chance that Kwon Alexander could return, but that's not certain. Although, seeing him work out with Dr. Reef was an encouraging sign. Owusu-Koramoah being available here may not be realistic, as he is arguably the best linebacking prospect in the draft.

The Case for Wide Receiver - There's some promise on the roster regarding some of the younger players who could make a leap in 2021, and Michael Thomas should have a huge bounce back season. If a prospect like Moore is there, it might be hard not to pull the trigger. He could be a real terror opposite of Thomas and thrive in the Saints offense as a playmaker. Whether it's Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, New Orleans will be able to stretch the field a lot more this year.

The Case for Cornerback - Nothing on the roster really feels like a realistic option to go pair opposite of Marshon Lattimore. There's been reported interest in a couple of veterans during free agency, but of those, Richard Sherman seems to be the one to keep an eye on. New defensive backs coach Kris Richard has developed some talent in his time in the league, and both Newsome II and Samuel Jr. would be good picks, but the tip would go to the Northwestern corner. Over 60 percent of voters in our recent poll thought cornerback was where the team goes at 28th.

The Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

If you watch any film on Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, then you'll instantly see that he's the type of player who's been shot out of a cannon. He checks a ton of boxes, being able to cover, hit, close fast with speed, and rush the passer. You see how he plays and get excited about what he can do on the next level. The difference between Alex Anzalone and Kwon Alexander was great last season. Owusu-Koramoah would be a strong compliment to Demario Davis.

Of course, he's not without flaw, and that's something you can say about any prospect that gets drafted. However, the good tends to outweigh the bad here, and New Orleans feels like a team that can figure out where he fits best. While it could be on the table to bring back Alexander, something to think about are the potential complications coming off an Achilles injury. Every player is different, but I recall Sheldon Rankins talking about how difficult it was for him to have proper push off the ball.

The thought process to me is that they land a remaining cornerback option in free agency (see some thoughts here), although someone like Sherman has said that it'll probably be post-draft when he signs with a team. As always, we'll just have to see how things play out between now and the draft.