Draft clouds: Sorting out who could make sense for the Saints in the first 3 rounds

Draft clouds: Sorting out who could make sense for the Saints in the first 3 rounds
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Twenty-eight selections will (probably) come and go in Thursday’s NFL draft before the New Orleans Saints logo pops up with a countdown clock on the TV feed.

That means the draft can go a lot of different ways before the Saints’ turn comes around at the back end of the first round, and they have to be prepared for any number of outcomes — expected or otherwise.

Maybe there’s a run on edge rushers, or quarterbacks, or tight ends, and maybe that pushes someone toward the back of the first round whom New Orleans did not anticipate being available.

Until draft day, nobody outside of the Carolina Panthers with the No. 1 pick knows exactly who is going to be available when their turn comes around — but that doesn’t stop teams from preparing a group of players that it anticipates could be available.

With that in mind, let’s assemble a cloud of players that might make some sense for the Saints at their respective draft positions in the first three rounds. Almost all of these players fit the Saints’ usual size/athletic testing parameters, and they fit potential needs on the current saints roster.

First-round cloud

  • Texas RB Bijan Robinson
  • Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer
  • Utah TE Dalton Kincaid
  • Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave
  • Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness
  • Clemson DE Myles Murphy
  • Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey
  • Northwestern DE Adetomiwa Adebawore
  • Clemson DT Bryan Bresee
  • Maryland CB Deonte Banks

We’re going to keep including Robinson on these lists because he’s a bit of a mystery coming into the draft. There’s no doubting his talent — many consider him one of the five best overall players in the draft — but questions of positional value remain.

The past four NFL drafts saw four running backs go in the first round but none higher than 24th overall. Robinson is probably considered a better pro prospect than all of Josh Jacobs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Travis Etienne and Najee Harris were in their draft years, but how high does that push him? And if he’s available in the early-to-mid 20s, would a team like the Saints make an aggressive move to go get him?

It’s an interesting thought, at least. But depending on how the draft shakes out, New Orleans should have at least some interesting options at No. 29.

New Orleans felt it was lacking a physical pass-catcher all last season after Michael Thomas went on the shelf, and this draft class is loaded with big-bodied, pass-catching tight ends. Players like Mayer, Kincaid and Musgrave could all be gone by the time No. 29 comes around, or they could all be there.

It also would not be a surprise to see New Orleans continue to use its highest-level draft assets to beef up the trenches. Van Ness and Murphy are two names that many have projected in the teens, but it would not be a complete shock to see one of them available in the 20s. If not, New Orleans could take another swing on a player with high-level physical traits, like Adebawore or Foskey.

Of all those players, though, the one who has been most often connected to the Saints is Bresee. The Clemson defensive tackle has explosive physical traits that he was not always able to show in college because of injury. New Orleans could use a playmaker on the defensive interior.

Second-round cloud

  • Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs
  • Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman
  • Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave
  • Georgia TE Darnell Washington
  • South Dakota State TE Tucker Kraft
  • Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence
  • Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey
  • Northwestern DE Adetomiwa Adebawore
  • Georgia Tech DE Keion White
  • Michigan DT Mazi Smith
  • Iowa LB Jack Campbell
  • Arkansas LB Drew Sanders
  • South Carolina DB Darius Rush
  • Illinois S Quan Martin

The second and third rounds could be a good spot for the Saints to pivot toward building their offense around new quarterback Derek Carr.

New Orleans could target someone like Alabama’s Gibbs, whom many have compared to Saints star Alvin Kamara. Or maybe the Saints would want to wait out the first wave of tight ends in the draft knowing they could add a big pass-catcher with similar upside with the 40th pick.

But this is also a spot where the Saints could continue to fortify their defensive ranks. There aren’t any consensus first-rounders in this year’s linebacker class, but Iowa’s Jack Campbell and Arkansas’ Drew Sanders could make sense in this range.

This could also be the last, best chance for New Orleans to add an instant-impact player on the defensive edge.

Third round cloud

  • UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet
  • Pittsburgh RB Israel Abanikanda
  • TCU RB Kendre Miller
  • Ole Miss WR Jonathan Mingo
  • SMU WR Rashee Rice
  • Iowa TE Sam LaPorta
  • LSU OG Anthony Bradford
  • N.C. State OG Chandler Zavala
  • Ohio State DE Zach Harrison
  • Missouri DE Isaiah McGuire
  • South Carolina DT Zacch Pickens
  • Wisconsin DT Keeanu Benton
  • Kansas State CB Julius Brents
  • Purdue CB Cory Trice
  • Illinois S Quan Martin

The third round feels like a sweet spot to snag a running back if the Saints either don’t get a chance to draft one of the top two, or don’t like that spot in terms of value. Any of UCLA’s Charbonnet, Pittsburgh’s Abanikanda or TCU’s Miller feels like a solid fit next to Kamara and Jamaal Williams.

But this could also present a solid opportunity for the Saints to add to their already impressive cornerback depth. Last year was proof a team can never have too many good options there, and both Brents (6-2, 198) and Trice (6-3, 206) offer the length New Orleans covets.


About Marc Lemoine 1340 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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