There’s nothing saintly about New Orleans’ current roster situation. Strapped for cap and devoid of talent at several important positions, the NFL Draft will be especially important if the Saints want to compete in 2022. In this New Orleans Saints 7-Round NFL Mock Draft, we aim to set a new path forward for Sean Payton.
New Orleans Saints 7-Round NFL Mock Draft
According to the Mock Draft Simulator order, the Saints have nine picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, including two each in Rounds 4 and 6.
Using those selections, we put together a Saints 2022 NFL Mock Draft using PFN’s free Mock Draft Simulator. For now, trades are not being included. The finalized draft order after Week 18 will remain the framework for this mock.
Round 1, Pick 18: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
There’s an argument to be made that Jameis Winston should be brought back, but the Saints have -$61.6 million in projected cap space. New Orleans has found workarounds before, but a rookie QB contract is likely much more prudent this time around.
Kenny Pickett makes sense at pick No. 18. He provides the mobility, off-platform ability, and arm elasticity to flourish off-script. But he also processes fairly well, can manipulate safeties, and can work through his progressions in the pocket. Plus, Pickett to New Orleans is just a solid vibe.
Round 2, Pick 49: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Pickett gives the Saints a chance to stay competitive while gradually working through their cap situation. But the Pitt QB needs more talent at wide receiver. In some ways, Jahan Dotson provides a lot of the value that Jordan Addison — a potential first-rounder in 2023 — provided to Pickett this year.
Dotson is explosive and smooth as a route runner, but he also has enough speed to separate downfield. Furthermore, he has the spider-like hands and vertical athleticism to be a steady contested-catch threat. For the Saints in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, he’s a crucial addition on Day 2.
Round 3, Pick 102: Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
With Terron Armstead likely to leave in free agency, the Saints will need to revamp the protection unit for Pickett. Even if they pass up tackle with their first two picks, there are still options available on the board, including Tulsa’s Tyler Smith.
As of writing this Saints 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft, Smith hasn’t declared yet. There’s a chance he goes back to school to try and develop into a first-round pick in 2023. But therein lies the appeal for the Golden Hurricane mauler. He has all the physical tools — athleticism, size, and power. He still needs to iron out some parts of his game, but with the right development, he can be an impact starter.
Round 4, Pick 117: Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Paulson Adebo flashed plenty in his first year with the Saints, but New Orleans could still use more depth at the CB position behind him and Marshon Lattimore. The optimal path forward may be to cut Bradley Roby, save almost $10 million, and then take a chance on another tools-rich CB in the middle-round range.
Tariq Woolen is a candidate to fill the Saints’ need at cornerback. The 6’4″, 205-pound defender is still raw, having recently switched over from wide receiver. But he’s a wicked athlete with a near-4.3 40-yard dash and a projected vertical over 40 inches. Woolen has top-end explosiveness and natural ball skills. He’s also fairly fluid for his size. Get the traits, and develop them later — that’s the move for the Saints in Round 4.
Round 4, Pick 139: Micheal Clemons, EDGE, Texas A&M
When Payton Turner went down with an injury in 2021, the shoddy depth of New Orleans’ pass-rushing corps was put on full display. Especially with Carl Granderson on track to leave in March, adding a new rotational edge rusher with inside-outside versatility could be vital. In this Saints 2022 NFL Mock Draft, Micheal Clemons is a great fit in that regard.
Standing at 6’5″, 270 pounds, Clemons has a superimposing frame with elite length. He carries a torrid first step off the line and can generate lots of power with his burst and length. He’s not super bendy, but with his tools, he can be a versatile spark plug as a pass rusher. That’s emphasized by his 7 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2021.
Other alternatives at No. 139: Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah; Cole Strange, G, Chattanooga
Round 5, Pick 160: JT Woods, S, Baylor
Remember the contract talk for Terron Armstead? Ditto for Marcus Williams. The Saints would no doubt love to keep him, but it might be difficult to do so. If Williams leaves, the Saints should use this deep safety class to their advantage.
JT Woods could be a steal on Day 3. The 6’2″ defensive back had 5 interceptions in 2021, but also frequently came downhill and laid the wood. He’s a long, rangy cover man with the explosiveness to cover lots of ground. Not only can he use that range to hawk in front of passes, but he can also use it to secure tackles preventing big plays.
Other alternatives at No. 160: Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA; James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech; Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama
Round 6, Pick 196: Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma
When Alvin Kamara was lost to injury for part of the 2021 season, the depth of New Orleans’ running back room suffered. With a few late-round picks in tow in this Saints 2022 NFL Mock Draft, it feels right to take a swing on a ball carrier. Kennedy Brooks is a great high-floor option this late. He’s not elite in any one area, but he has the vision, balance, and modest burst to be a valuable rotational back.
Other alternatives at No. 196: Jeremiah Gemmel, LB, North Carolina; Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
Round 6, Pick 214: Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers
With so many picks, it would be almost criminal for New Orleans to not double-up at the wide receiver position. Here in Round 6, Rutgers receiver Bo Melton could be a potential value deal. The Scarlet Knights playmaker is a former track star who provides great run-after-catch ability with his 5’11”, 195-pound frame. However, he also showcases body control and ball tracking ability.
Other alternatives at No. 214: Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA; Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State
Round 7, Pick 236: Chance Campbell, LB, Ole Miss
Demario Davis isn’t planning on leaving the Saints anytime soon. But he’s getting older, and a regression in 2022 could lead to him being a cap casualty down the road.
Chance Campbell provides value as high-upside insurance. He’s a freak athlete at 6’3″, 235 pounds, who broke out with Ole Miss this year, logging 109 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 2 deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries.
Other alternatives at No. 236: Danny Gray, WR, SMU; Dylan Parham, OL, Memphis