The 2021 NFL Draft is just two days away. The 32 selections of the first round will be on Thursday, April 29 at 8 PM ET. Rounds 2 and 3 will be on Friday, April 30 at 7 PM ET. The draft will conclude with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, May 1 at noon EST.
The New Orleans Saints are scheduled to have eight selections in this year's event. Barring trades, they have the 28th overall pick of the first round, one selection in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, one in the sixth, and two picks in the seventh round.
Last month I published my first mock draft. Now, with the official picks just days away, here is my final mock draft for the New Orleans Saints.
1ST ROUND (28TH OVERALL)
GREG NEWSOME II, CORNERBACK (NORTHWESTERN)
Jaycee Horn, CB (South Carolina)
The Saints biggest need to fill this offseason, by far, is the cornerback position. They still have one of the league's best in Marshon Lattimore, but created a huge void with the offseason release of Janoris Jenkins. In my first mock I had South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn in this spot, while acknowledging that they’d likely have to trade up.
I still expect the Saints will trade up in the first round, probably giving up one of this year's third rounders and a 2022 1st or 2nd round choice. Horn and Alabama's Patrick Surtain Jr. will probably be off the board too early for New Orleans to realistically move up to, but Newsome or Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech would be a terrific consolation.
Newsome has the size (6’0” 192-Lbs) and the speed to stay with any receiver. A fluid athlete with excellent man coverage skills, Newsome has the ability to flourish in any scheme. He’ll step into the number two spot opposite Lattimore immediately and has the potential to develop into a top cover corner.
2ND ROUND (60TH OVERALL)
RONDALE MOORE, WIDE RECEIVER (PURDUE)
Chase Surratt, LB (North Carolina)
I wouldn't be surprised if New Orleans went for a top defensive tackle like North Carolina State's Alim McNeill if he falls here. Or perhaps they fill their need at linebacker if Kentucky's Jamin Davis, Missouri's Nick Bolton, or Jabril Cox of LSU are still available.
Quarterback Drew Brees retired this offseason, likely leaving Jameis Winston to take over the starting job. The Saints have the best wideout in the league in Michael Thomas and high hopes for the development of young wideouts Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway. Brees' incomparable accuracy covered for a lot of shortcomings at wideout over the years. They may want to give Winston another weapon to work with.
Don't be surprised if Western Michigan's D'Wayne Eskridge ends up in New Orleans with a 2nd or 3rd round pick. The choice here is Rondale Moore, from Brees' alma mater of Purdue. Moore has the same kind of gamebreaking speed as Eskridge, but is a more polished route runner. A small receiver at 5’7” and 181-Lbs with an injury history, Moore will have to show he can handle bigger corners. He's a combative wideout who plays with a physical edge and can be a matchup nightmare from all around an offensive formation.
3RD ROUND (98TH OVERALL)
CHAZZ SURRATT, LINEBACKER (NORTH CAROLINA)
Kellen Mond, QB (Texas A&M)
When the Saints added linebacker Kwon Alexander to team with Demario Davis at the position last year, it helped elevate their unit to an elite level. Alexander was released during the offseason, and they also lost LB Alex Anzalone in free agency.
Surratt gives the team the same kind of speed and coverage ability that they got with Alexander at the position. A former quarterback that moved to linebacker two years ago for the Tar Heels, Surratt is still a little inexperienced at the position. He’s a heat-seeking missile as a run defender with excellent sideline-to-sideline pursuit and burst to the football.
Surratt has terrific lateral quickness in zone coverage and possesses natural man coverage ability. He’s still developing at the position, but has the instincts and physical ability to be an immediate contributor at any of the linebacker spots.
3RD ROUND (105TH OVERALL)
OSA ODIGHIZUWA, DEFENSIVE TACKLE (UCLA)
Brevin Jordan, TE (Miami, FL)
New Orleans lost tackles Malcom Brown and Sheldon Rankins this offseason, thinning their outstanding depth at the position. A player like Alim McNeill would be a great fit with an earlier pick, but the Saints take advantage of some underrated depth this position offers through the middle rounds.
Odighizuwa has an excellent blend of size, athleticism, and strength. That combination gives him the versatility to play inside and on the edge. He doesn't have the mass to be a space eater inside and can get pushed around at the point of attack.
Odighizuwa has outstanding initial explosion at the snap. He maintains effective leverage and pad level to give him the advantage against blockers and consistently splits double-team blocking. His non-stop motor, along with underrated strength and tremendous burst could make him a consistent disruptive presence up front.
4TH ROUND (133RD OVERALL)
KARY VINCENT JR., CORNERBACK (LSU)
Milton Williams, DT (La. Tech)
Marshon Lattimore has not yet signed a contract extension and could be a free agent at the end of the season. After the release of Jenkins, they have questionable depth even with the addition of an early round pick. Patrick Robinson and P.J. Williams have been erratic at best, and 2020 UDFA Keith Washington is unproven.
New Orleans takes advantage of a deep cornerback class and adds a local talent. Kary Vincent's father, Kary Sr., was a sixth-round pick by the Saints in 1992 that spent two years on the team's practice squad as a receiver.
Kary Jr. was an important defensive contributor for two seasons and a standout sprinter for the LSU track team. He opted out of the 2020 season but had 6 interceptions and broke up 16 passes in his career with the Tigers. He’s still a bit undisciplined in coverage, but has the top-end speed and fluid athleticism to stay with any wideout and adds some safety experience.
6TH ROUND (218TH OVERALL)
DAMAR HAMLIN, SAFETY (PITT)
Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR (Illinois)
New Orleans avoided a huge need at safety when they applied the franchise tag to S Marcus Williams. However, Williams has not signed a long-term extension and could be a free agent after this year. Strong safety Malcolm Jenkins will turn 34 before the end of the season and struggled in coverage last year.
Hamlin is the less heralded of a pair of talented Panthers defensive backs that included Paris Ford. He has a nice size and speed combination but missed significant time with injuries earlier in his career. Doesn't have the foot speed to keep pace with some faster slot receivers in man coverage, but can capably lock up tight ends.
A solid run defender who's a fundamentally sound tackler, Hamlin's instincts and anticipation give him excellent range as a deep safety. He could flourish in a two-high safety scheme like the Saints employed often in the second half of 2020.
7TH ROUND (229TH OVERALL)
TREY RAGAS, RUNNING BACK (LOUISIANA)
Tony Fields II, LB (West Virginia)
New Orleans coach Sean Payton can't help himself from adding another skill position on Day 3 and probably adding several more as undrafted signees. Who could blame him. The Saints have had great success at finding overlooked talent at the receiver and running back spots.
An explosive athletic project like WR Josh Imatorbhebhe would also be an intriguing addition, if still available. I can see them adding running back competition here, especially if they address receiver with an earlier pick. An underrated but talented duo of Ragas and Elijah Mitchell from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette might both be available late on Day 3.
Ragas is a powerfully built, downhill runner who had consistent production for the Ragin Cajuns. He has great vision to find the crease in a defense and impressive leg drive for extra yardage after contact. Ragas isn't an explosive outside threat and must improve his receiving skills, but can be a productive between the tackles option.
7TH ROUND (255TH OVERALL)
LORENZO NEAL JR., DEFENSIVE TACKLE (PURDUE)
Tommy Doyle, T/G (Miami, OH)
Son of former New Orleans Saints FB Lorenzo Neal, a 4th round choice in the 1993 draft, Lorenzo Jr. missed the 2019 season because of an ACL injury. He is a powerful presence at 6’3” 315-Lbs. that has tremendous strength inside. Combined with excellent quickness off the snap, Neal is a handful for even double-team blocking despite low statistical production.
Losing DT Malcom Brown this offseason created an understated need, especially for the run defense. If Neal can strengthen his base to complement his raw abilities, he could be the latest defensive line gem for a New Orleans team that added undrafted defensive tackles Shy Tuttle and Malcolm Roach over the last two seasons.