In just a few short hours from now, the New Orleans Saints will be picking 27th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Saints put themselves in a position to pick the BPA ("best player available") on their draft board due to an outstanding off-season thus far of free-agent signings a key positions such as linebacker, slot corner, tight end and wide receiver.
There could be a great flexibility for the Saints tonight in the 27th spot. The Saints won’t be looking to fill a need at #27, Instead, their focus presumably will be picking the best player on their board.
However, a short while ago, NFL.com insider Ian Rappaport reported that the Saints organization has made plenty of calls about making a big leap up from pick No. 27. He added that New Orleans will be "well-prepared to move tonight" if it comes down to it.
With this latest rumor in mind, here's my quick thoughts on the two names that have been burning up Social Media speculation within the last few hours.....
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Harold Landry is one of the top edge rushers in the draft, but a long shot since many pieces would have to fall the Saints way for him to make it to the 27th pick.
The Saints don’t have a pass rusher like Landry on their roster right now that can "dip and bend", and beat tackles off the edge with a speed-rush.
He also has an incredible first step at the snap of the football, which is just one of the reasons why he's been compared to former Saints living legend and "Dome Patrol" linebacker Pat Swiling (when he came out of Georgia Tech University in the 1986 NFL Draft) by well-respected and long-time WWL New Orleans TV & 870 AM Radio Draft Analyst Mike Detillier.
The Saints are built around “power rushers” like Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor who use brute strength to wreak havoc. Sean Payton called pass rusher a 'need' and is yet to be filled.
There are two players in this year's draft class that I personally can see the Saints trading up to go after: one of course is Baker Mayfield, and the other.... is Harold Landry.
He could come in on passing downs and speed rush across Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins and Alex Okafor at tackles which Dennis Allen liked to run on passing downs last season. That’s a scary pass rush unit that would leave offensive coordinators on edge.
If Landry isn’t there, then there is a huge drop off in pure edge rusher talent after that (like a Sam Hubbard). From my own perspective, I think the Saints should try to snag Landry if he falls down into the late teens (picks 16-19), even if it means having to give up something (maybe even a #1 in next year's 2019 NFL Draft), in order to move up and get him.
There's been a lot of talk recently about the Saints' interest in taking Landry, so this is one scenario that could definitely play out, if Rappaport's Tweet turns out to be accurate.
Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Louisville
39-year old future Hall of Famer Drew Brees has two more years (potentially) on his last NFL contract, and that leaves us wondering: given Rappaport's Tweet: is Lamar Jackson who the Saints be looking to trade up for?
As the draft draws closer, there has been more talk about "LJ" by NFL media, and his potential "fit" with the Saints. Previously, the Saints have met with Jackson and were reported to have “interest”. Sean Payton stated he doesn’t see an “Andrew Luck or Carson Wentz” in this year’s draft and only could see Sam Darnold lasting past his rookie deal.
Is that Sean Payton’s vintage smoke screen to help a quarterback drop and he trade up, or sit and hope Lamar Jackson makes it to 27?
It's not out of the realm of possibility that if Jackson somehow does get taken by New Orleans, he could sit behind Drew Brees for two seasons. Pete Carmichael could plug him in, with a few offensive changes taking advantage of his strengths to fit the offense. He has great athleticism and can zip the ball.
Sure — his throwing mechanics need some more work, but what better teacher than Drew Brees himself ?????
And that's not even mentioning his jaw-dropping athleticism. As far as the criticism that he's too small?
Jackson is almost identical in size to none other than Bengals QB Andy Dalton, a certified starting-caliber NFL quarterback
Presumably, IF the Saints are really intending to move up for Jackson, they would have to trade up at least to #14 with Green Bay, to get ahead of the Arizona Cardinals at #15 — who reportedly are "smitten" with Jackson as their next QB of the future in the Desert Southwest.
And as with Landry: it would likely cost the Saints giving up a #1 pick (and possibly even more, assuming they were to actually go through with it) in next year's 2019 NFL Draft.....