With Robert Griffin III announcing he was declaring himself eligible for this year's draft Wednesday, the top of the first round is starting to figure itself out a bit. Of course, the more underclassmen to declare, the better players who will be available come the time the Saints make their first selection—the final pick of the second round (yes, I am counting on the Saints winning out, culminating with a victory on the first Sunday of February in Indianapolis).
Who will they take with their seven total picks?
Probably the most exciting player—Robert Griffin III—will be selected either second or third depending on the possibility of a trade with the St. Louis Rams or Indianapolis Colts from some team below.
My personal opinion is that Griffin is the second best player in this draft—and truthfully, I think it’s a basic tie between him and Luck. However, if the Rams decide to keep their selection at No. 2 overall, they will not select Griffin but should select Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon to combine with their young quarterback.
In the NFC South, look for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select the best running back in this draft—Alabama’s Trent Richardson. And for the Carolina Panthers, they will try to acquire a dual-threat defensive lineman—right now, that player looks like Penn State’s Devon Still.
Remember, Atlanta has no first-round pick, just like the Saints. The Falcons gave up half of last year’s draft and this one to acquire Julio Jones with the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft.
Orson Charles officially declared himself eligible for the draft Wednesday. If he were to somehow last until the final selection of the second round, he'd be a no-brainer for the New Orleans Saints. Of course, your objection is going to be that the Saints already have a great young tight end in Jimmy Graham.
This pick is even more necessary given the Saints' inability to field a second player at the position with any kind of consistency on the season.
Charles is a wonderful athlete who figures to be an elite pass-catching threat, who also needs to improve his blocking (sound familiar?). With Charles, the Saints would go from unstoppable to unbeatable.
The linebacker position has surprisingly been a strength for New Orleans. This week, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh called them the best group of linebackers his team has faced all season.
Yet, it was a group that had a hard time finding a consistent starting unit. And it's a group that wants to continue to get younger. Audie Cole would present great value with the final selection of the third round.
Cole has an opportunity to play both inside and outside, kind of like Jo-Lonn Dunbar.
The Saints could do a lot worse than Cole at this selection.
First, I am taking the luxury of assuming the Reggie Bush draft pick will come in Round 4.
Next, I am saying the Saints need to find some competition for RT Zach Strief. Bergstrom in the fourth round makes a lot of sense given the Saints' ability to develop offensive linemen.
With the second pick of the fourth round, Malik Jackson provides another young development pass-rusher and run-stopper. He's been a productive player at Tennessee whose best football is likely ahead of him.
The Saints are never going to stop bringing in defensive talent—especially with guys who play in the secondary. The Saints have to stay young and find some able backups.
Robert Blanton was a productive player at Notre Dame who shows an ability to move to safety if necessary. His insertion to the lineup could allow Malcolm Jenkins to go back to more of a hybrid role, which would make this entire defense better.
Most college football fans remember the game TCU's Tank Carder had against Wisconsin in the 2011 Rose Bowl. That game was the finale of his junior season.
In 2011, Carder cooled off a bit and saw his draft stock fall. But he remains the instinctive player he was in that bowl game. His smarts and tenaciousness are traits that separate him from some of the more talented linebackers in this draft. I see him as a steal at this point.
As for Moss, he's almost the opposite of Carder. Paige-Moss is a talented individual who has struggled at times in his Tar Heel career. But scouts know the talent exists. In fact, Paige-Moss is very similar to the Saints' 2011 seventh-round selection, Greg Romeus.
The Saints would be fortunate to have two guys with such talent compete against each other for time in the lineup at defensive end.
I'm of the belief that an organization should select one quarterback in every draft (undrafted free agents would count also) until they are absolutely certain they have three quarterbacks they trust enough to go win them a football game.
Right now, I think the Saints are at about one and a half.
In steps Boise State's Kellen Moore—the winningest quarterback in college football history. What Moore lacks in prototypical passing traits, he makes up for with mental aptitude and leadership skills. Moore is just the kind of player Sean Payton made a point of bringing into New Orleans six seasons ago, and for the most part that formula has not changed.
Payton and this Saints team love left-handed quarterbacks as backups, and of course Moore fits that mold. Also, the addition of Moore could create an opportunity to trade Chase Daniel away if he’s able to blow away some scouts and personnel people—a la Matt Schaub or Matt Flynn.
Getting value for a backup is always a good practice for an organization. The Saints are learning how to do all these things successfully.