The New Orleans Saints are coming off a Super Bowl-worthy season. Quality starters are present at every position group, so where should the Saints look to add value in the 2019 NFL Draft?
The Saints are in a tough spot with the lack of draft capital and the uncertainty of waiting until pick 62. Will the front office reach for a specific position? Are they comfortable taking whoever is atop their big board at the time of selection? Needs have changed since our first Saints mock before free agency. Let’s take a quick look at some needs before making the selections.
It’s hard to say that the Saints have pressing needs at any starting position. But further down the depth chart, there are areas lacking depth. The biggest of these areas is at offensive line. The priority to protect their 40-year-old quarterback should be higher than ever.
The New England Patriots displayed a perfect example of the importance of offensive line play with an aging QB. Tom Brady did not look as sharp as his old self throughout the 2018 season, but great pass protection allowed him to still “be Brady” and win another Super Bowl.
The Saints are in a very similar situation. Your quarterback can lead you to a Lombardi Trophy. Give him the proper resources to do so, and ensure them with depth.
We can apply similar logic at wide receiver. The Saints could look to add a pass-catching weapon behind Michael Thomas and Jared Cook. They could add a bigger receiver for a target in the red zone, or get an explosive athlete that could play the slot and offer mismatch problems opposite Jared Cook.
It’s never wrong to stockpile depth along the defensive line. But with Sheldon Rankins still recovering, defensive line depth becomes a priority. On the outside, Alex Okafor was a casualty in free agency. Another rotational pass rusher would be a nice asset behind Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport.
I went through several simulations using The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator. The following picks were the most common available while staying realistic. After a long wait through 61 picks, the New Orleans Saints are on the clock.
Round 2, Pick 62: Dru Samia, IOL, Oklahoma
The Saints add much-needed depth to the interior line with a tenacious and versatile prospect in Dru Samia. There are some quality pass-catching and secondary talent on the board in this spot, but it’s IOL that’s a higher value for the Saints. Samia offers some versatility having played tackle and guard in college. He finished his career being named first-team All-Big 12 as part of the core of the best offensive line in college football at Oklahoma.
Round 5, Pick 168: Derrick Baity Jr., CB, Kentucky
The Saints could use better competition down the depth chart at cornerback. Baity Jr. is solid value at pick number 168. At 6-foot-2 he has excellent size for a corner. The Saints reportedly recently had a private dinner meeting with Baity Jr. signaling some interest from the front office.
Round 6, Pick 177: Chris Slayton, IDL, Syracuse
Slayton fills the need for IDL depth as Rankins recovers from a torn Achilles. Slayton is a powerful interior presence that stylistically fits the New Orleans front. He could contribute snaps in his rookie season in a rotational role as the team awaits the return of Rankins. The Saints have some interest as they visited Slayton’s Pro Day, per WalterFootball.com.
Other possible targets: WR David Sills V, WR Damarkus Lodge, OT Max Scharping
Round 6, Pick 202: David Sills V, WR, West Virginia
Sean Payton loves receivers with vertical ability, and that makes Sills a perfect fit for the Saints. At 6-foot-4, Sills is a high upside boundary receiver that can win in the red zone and at the catch point. The former Mountaineer has a wide draft range from as early as the 3rd round to as late as the 7th. I especially like this fit and could see Payton finding a way for Sills to make an impact in his rookie season.
Round 7, Pick 231: Hjalte Froholdt, IOL, Arkansas
Froholdt is one of the best available prospects and fills the need for more interior depth. He can play guard or center and can be moved around in training camp as needed.
Round 7, Pick 244: Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
Hurd is a super intriguing prospect because of his raw athleticism and high ceiling. Sean Payton loves utilizing explosive, versatile athletes (i.e., Taysom Hill) and Hurd seems like a great fit on this offense. Payton’s creativity can make up for Hurd’s lack of development as a pure receiver as he played running back for Tennessee previously.