Saints Simulation Mock Draft Tuesday has us running models for the New Orleans Saints based on draft needs through three simulators - Pro Football Network, Draft Network, and NFL Mock Draft Database.
New Orleans Saints Needs: CB, LB, OT, WR, TE, DT, EDGE, QB, RB
The New Orleans Saints must address their highest priorities with the highest commodity players in the first and second rounds. In the past, the Saints have chosen players according to the current state of the team. It's about the situation and how the organization helps a rookie position themselves for success. The evidence it works for New Orleans was in 2006, and 2017 draft classes - Bush, Colston, Kamara, Lattimore, Ramcyck, and Williams are a few names to mention.
BATMAN (DEMARIO) NEEDS A ROBIN
I believe New Orleans should draft on a linebacker based on speed, instincts, and coverage skills. It's a rare commodity and has become a "must need" in today's NFL to have linebackers possessing these talents. Demario Davis needs a running buddy since Kwon Alexander (released) and Alex Anzalone (Lions) will not be on the Saints' roster in 2021.
Even if New Orleans re-signs Alexander, his total recovery from a torn Achilles injury may not be until mid-season.
I recall how former DT Sheldon Rankins saying "pushing off" was limited and less than 100% after tearing his Achilles in 2019. Alexander has very good change of direction speed and needs to be comfortable pushing off in coverage.
Second-year linebacker Zack Baun could fill the role and showed flashes of ability in 2020. If New Orleans plays three linebackers, he becomes the WILL. Davis' versatility has him at the MIKE or SAM. Dennis Allen employed the two linebacker scheme most of 2020. Why? Malcolm Jenkins, 33, can be a hybrid safety/linebacker at times, supporting the defense's second level. Yet, the team needs an infusion of youth at linebacker.
Baun or the next linebacker complementing Davis will need to demonstrate the ability to cover tight ends, running backs, and receivers crossing the intermediate zones.
Who would be available at No. 28 for the Saints? I have two surprise favorites which I believe fit New Orleans' needs at linebacker. Who? Jabril Cox from LSU. Next is Jamin Davis from Kentucky. Tulsa's Zaven Collins is third, and Bama's Dylan Moses, in fourth-place. I watched videos of Collins. Excellent tackler, but he appears heavy-footed in his Pro Day workout. Cox is a coverage wiz, versatile, instinctive, and plays bigger than his frame (NFL nutrition, strength, and conditioning can help in this area).
After leaving North Dakota State and playing for the Bengal Tigers in 2020, Cox had three interceptions, five passes defended, 58 tackles, and one sack. Cox has nine career interceptions, and three returned for touchdowns.
Both Cox and Davis are ball-hawking linebackers which bode well in the NFC South these days. Cox's height and speed could be beneficial as a hybrid safety/linebacker in Allen's defensive schemes and disguises. Cox is nursing an injury and did not participate in LSU's Pro Day.
Check out this Pro Day numbers: 4.37 second in the 40; 42-inch vertical jump; 11-foot broad jump. Was it Collins or Moses? No. Zamin Davis. Remember a guy named Darius Leonard in Indy? Yes, Davis has Leonard-like qualities.
Many will not recognize Cox and Davis as big-name players in this year's draft, but they fit the mold Kwon Alexander cast opposite Demario Davis last season. Both fill the zones well and are instinctive playmakers with speed and above-average coverage ability. There will be a rookie learning curve for each player. But with Demario Davis anchoring the linebacking corps, each holds the essential talent, and character New Orleans desires.
OTHER POSSIBILITIES IN THE DRAFT
The Saints could target a speedy wide receiver like Terrace Marshall (LSU), Jr, Elijah Moore (Ole Miss), or Roshad Bateman (Minnesota). New Orleans' EVP/GM Mickey Loomis could decide to fall back, gather additional picks, and select either Cox, Davis, or Moses in the second round.
OUR MOCK DRAFT SIMULATIONS
Well, let's take a look at what the simulations gave me for the Saints in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Simulations from Pro Football Network
- 28 Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
- 60 Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
- 98 Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
- 109 Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington (Trade with Texans: Saints received Pick 109 and Pick 147 from Texans; Texans received Pick 105 and Pick 255 from Saints)
- 133 Demetric Felton, WR, UCLA
- 147 Adrian Ealy, OT, Oklahoma (Trade with Texans: See above)
- 218 K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn
- 229 Lorenzo Neal, DT, Purdue
- 28 Terrace Marshall, Jr, WR, LSU
- 60 Asante Samuel, Jr, CB, FSU
- 98 Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
- 105 Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
- 133 Tre' McKitty, TE, Georgia
- 218 Lorenzo Neal, IDL, Purdue
- 229 Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa
- 255 Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh
NFL Mock Draft Database
- 28 Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
- 60 Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
- 98 Trey Sermon, RB, OSU
- 105 Noah Gray, TE, Duke
- 133 Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska
- 218 Grant Stuard, LB, Houston
- 229 Sam Ehlinger, QB, UT
- 255 Mustafa Johnson, DL, Colorado