The perfect 2013 New Orleans Saints mock draft is a nearly impossible task to complete. As with any mock draft, there is great difficulty in assessing who will be available when each pick is made.
Ideally for the Saints, quarterbacks would climb draft boards and leave at least one of the following players available at No. 15 of the first round: Barkevious Mingo, Desmond Trufant, Kenny Vaccaro or Eric Fisher. Of those four, Trufant is the only one likely to be available at No. 15.
Any of those four players are the perfect fit for the Saints in the first round. If none of them are available at 15, the team should try to trade back and pick up an extra pick or two in this draft—or a future one. Of course, that is much more difficult to do than it sounds.
The first round is also a time to secure players who fill a need in the present. First-round players are supposed to start from day one. Players picked in the second and third rounds are expected to make an immediate impact on a starting unit, too.
In other words, with a first- and third-round pick, the Saints must come out of the 2013 NFL Draft with two 2013 starters—players who start on day one of the regular season. Rounds four through seven are meant to find projects and excellent special teams players.
With all that in mind, here is the perfect 2013 New Orleans Saints mock draft.
After signing four-year veteran Keenan Lewis three days into free agency, the New Orleans Saints have been aggressive in pursuing Nnamdi Asomugha—once known as the best cover corner in the entire NFL.
In other words, the team is serious about upgrading the cornerback position. Lewis is the assumed No. 1 at this point in the offseason. Asomugha and Lewis would be 1a and 1b if the former Raider and Eagle signs on to join his former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in the Crescent City.
But the San Francisco 49ers are also hot on his trail and have shown legitimate interest in obtaining Asomugha’s services as well.
Contrary to what Knox Bardeen wrote yesterday, if the Saints do not land Asomugha, the team should simply move on to the draft for another possible starting corner. Desmond Trufant is the preeminent cornerback in this draft on the Saints’ board.
Though I believe Trufant is the best corner, period, it is especially true that he is the best fit for the Saints based on the type of scheme the team will use on the back end under Ryan—which will consist of mostly man-to-man principles mixed with some weak-side bracket and zone coverages.
Trufant excels in man-to-man because, just like Lewis, he is extremely physical and will knock receivers around at the line of scrimmage. He’ll clutch and grab if that is what it takes to keep a receiver from getting open or making a catch. It may not be pretty, but it is the same formula the Seahawks used this season to establish themselves as the best secondary in football.
Analysts and the media have soured a bit on Stanford’s defensive star from the past two seasons, Chase Thomas. A player once thought to be a certain second-round pick, Thomas is now considered a third- or fourth-rounder by most draft services.
The film doesn’t lie, though. Thomas is exceptional as a run defender. He can hold the point of attack, which he’ll need to do in Rob Ryan’s defense. His motor is also exceptional. It will allow him to make plays that no one else on the defense is able to make.
Those two factors are most important, since the Saints were the worst run defense in the league a season ago. A 3-4 defense, however, relies on a pass rush from the outside ‘backers. Thomas appears to be a player who will be able to create significant pressure on the quarterback simply due to his nonstop motor.
He also shows good power and explosion to find ways to get in the offensive backfield. Some may consider him a two-down player. In Ryan’s defense, and with the assortment of pass-rushing talent available at his disposal—namely Junior Galette—it is quite possible the Saints would elect to use Thomas only on base downs.
Still, finding a two-down starter at a position of need in the third round is a good deal for any team.
Oday Aboushi is another player who has fallen down draft boards. With Sean Payton reportedly losing sleep over his left tackle situation, it seems that adding at least another player to the mix is important.
The Saints still may attempt to fix the position through free agency. The draft, though, provides options as well. In the fourth round, Aboushi provides great value.
He is not a super physical player. But the Saints do not require a physical freak or aggressive player at the left tackle spot. As Payton says, the team desires a smart player who works hard and stays on the field.
Aboushi appears to fit that mold when viewing Virginia film. He loves to take a quick drop step, get his hands on a pass-rusher and then quickly release to mirror the defender. That is actually textbook for an offensive tackle.
He is agile and athletic enough to make effective blocks in space when the team elects to use the swing screen game. In other words, he is a nice fit for New Orleans.
Character questions—arising from his forced departure from the University of Tennessee—will likely cause NFL teams to pause on Montori Hughes. The result could be a tumble to the fifth round for a player who possesses second- or third-round talent.
At 6’4” and 329 pounds, Hughes is the epitome of ginormous. Yet he is athletic enough to slip some gaps and create penetration in the backfield against the running game.
Surprisingly enough, it is even possible that Hughes could become a decent pass-rusher from the nose tackle spot. He is that freakishly gifted.
His strength and character will be questioned. His production and football-playing acumen should not.
Some may not like using two of only five draft picks on outside linebackers. After all, the team still has notable needs at the quarterback and tight end positions.
Then again, Tourek Williams is an undervalued player who promises to become a better-than-average pass-rusher at the NFL level. With an incredible motor, natural pass-rushing skills and great hand usage and body leverage, Williams has little to learn at the NFL level in terms of development.
With his size—6’3”, 260 pounds—he is ideal for a 3-4 outside linebacker. That frame will allow him to excel in the run game. And his ability to get skinny and rip his shoulder through will make him an elite edge-rusher.
It’s hard to understand why Williams is not being thought of more fondly by NFL teams. It’s okay, though; the Saints will gladly take him and give him a chance to become a starter in a year or two.