NFL Draft Day feels a lot like Christmas. You never know what you're going to get, and there's sure to be some surprises to go along with the lumps of coal that are draft picks. The Saints enter Thursday evening with the 28th overall selection, and all of the past couple of months have been spent predicting what the team will do. Ahead of that, we'll look at a final mock draft for New Orleans.
We're going to only do four rounds, and trust me, it was difficult to do anything past three just because it's really difficult to project anything in the late rounds, and it honestly serves more of a purpose to get to know a prospect at that point. Also, we'll operate under the assumption that the Saints won't have all of those picks. Here's how things went.
Round One, 28th Overall: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Previous Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The rumor mill has heated up surrounding Caleb Farley being tied to the Saints. Of course, they may have to trade up to get him, but running several simulations, he was there and couldn't be passed up. His medical background is a huge concern, but the upside with Farley would give New Orleans a very potent one-two youthful combo at cornerback alongside Marshon Lattimore. Farley's tape easily supports him as a top option, as he offers good run support, closing speed, and strong press coverage to go along with the other top elements to his game. Paired up with secondary coach Kris Richard, the risk/reward for him is certainly evident.
Will he actually be there? It remains to be seen. All the talk could be a smoke screen, but all the talk could be valid. The Saints may have to trade up to get him, if that's who they truly covet. Greg Newsome II would be an alternate pick.
Round Two, 60th Overall: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
Instantly, you are probably dismissing the notion of a LSU player going to the Saints, especially with their track history. Bob Rose profiled Cox the other day, and transferring to LSU from North Dakota State really put him in the spotlight. The coverage and speed you get with him fits the mold of what New Orleans likes to do defensively, and Cox could be that guy who finally makes believers of Saints fans and the team's ability to draft and develop a linebacker. Cox is still somewhat raw, but linebacker coach Michael Hodges should be able to help there along with Demario Davis.
Round Three, 98th Overall: James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati
It's difficult to envision the Saints having eight picks and not coming away with some type of offensive lineman in the process. Of course, it's also hard seeing them actually making all these picks and not trading up. James Hudson is intriguing, and has some traits to his game to be very successful at the next level. Hudson could convert to the interior to start his career out and provide some much-needed depth at guard behind Cesar Ruiz and Andrus Peat while also being a potential future staple at left tackle. No one is suggesting Terron Armstead isn't capable of playing anymore, but at some point the Saints will have to address that.
Round Three, 105th Overall: Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
Josh Palmer is one of my personal favorite wide receivers in the draft. At Tennessee, quarterback play was very inconsistent, but he still led the Vols after being behind Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway. Some have projected him in the fourth round, but what makes him appealing is his natural instincts and ball-tracking abilities. The Senior Bowl is what helped his cause, but the bottom line is that he's a good athlete who can be polished with some strong coaching. His route-running would be the biggest area to develop. If you're still in doubt, be sure to check out his 1-on-1 work.
Round Four, 133rd Overall: Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri
Let's say that Marcus Williams or Malcolm Jenkins isn't in the mix for 2022 for a moment, then it's really not hard to envision drafting a safety. There's some C.J. Gardner-Johnson traits you see when watching Tyree Gillespie's film. Some of the things he did on tape against Alabama were what stood out most with him. His way onto the team starts with special teams, an area where the Saints could use him and need with a void left behind by Justin Hardee. Gillespie checks a lot of boxes on what New Orleans could use.