For that reason, and the fact the team is looking to rebound from its first season of missing the playoffs since 2008, hitting on each of the five picks is crucial.
There is no such thing as a perfect mock draft. In fact, none of the picks listed here are the ideal selections for the team. All of these are prospects, though, that make sense for the Saints.
As the draft draws ever nearer, it seems unlikely that the slightly more heralded LSU product, Barkevious Mingo, will be available when the Saints’ selection at No. 15 pops up next Thursday. The Saints will, or should, then turn to this draft’s 1b pass-rusher, Alex Okafor.
Rob Ryan played two true defensive ends—Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer—at outside linebacker the past two seasons. Don’t think the thick Okafor won’t be asked to do the same. At 6’5”, 264 pounds, Okafor may seem like a better fit as a 4-3 DE. Don’t believe that lie. He is more than capable of excelling in a 3-4.
He is more than capable of holding the point of attack against the run—which is a major requirement in Ryan’s defense. He’ll be able to cover running back and tight ends just well enough—which frankly, Ryan would never ask of him anyway.
Most importantly, he’s the most complete pass-rusher in this draft. That’s what the Saints need. If Mingo is unavailable, Okafor is the obvious selection.
Dallas Thomas is climbing up draft boards as the draft nears ever closer. Teams and analysts are realizing he was not the problem in Tennessee’s epic collapse over the past few seasons.
In fact, Thomas was one of the few bright spots coming from Derek Dooley’s difficult three-year tenure in Knoxville. The fifth-year senior provides ideal size for an agile offensive tackle—6’5”, 306 pounds. Thomas shows great strength on film.
He has a strong upper body, which he uses to maul defenders. He doesn’t appear to be a great athlete, but may be adequate enough in that realm to do the things the Saints need their tackles to do. He has potential. That’s all Sean Payton wants in an offensive tackle.
Washington’s Desmond Trufant is an aggressive man-to-man corner who has caused me to lose myself in desirous covetousness. It’s not only the physicality but the borderline cockiness and attitude that inspire observers of Trufant’s game.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson is a similar player, who will likely be available in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Wreh-Wilson has smooth hips, physicality at the line of scrimmage and an attitude that will not allow him to get beat by his opponent.
Like Trufant, Wreh-Wilson will lose his balance due to his physicality. It will sometimes cause each player to get burned. But when each one hits his target in press coverage, receivers are shut down. I’ll take a few burnt crisps if the usual result is shutting down physical receivers—especially in a division that includes Roddy White, Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
The Saints seem content with the combination of Akiem Hicks and Brodrick Bunkley splitting snaps at the nose tackle spot in 2013. If not, the team would surely have signed someone—Alan Branch and Sione Pouha are two elite nose tackles who have been available on the free-agent market.
Montori Hughes, though, is potentially a gem of a prospect to be found in the fifth round. His game is far from perfect, but it’s also not as underdeveloped as one would presume of a fifth-round prospect. Hughes is an absolute monster (6’4”, 329 lbs) who figures to hold the point of attack with regularity.
Yet he is athletic enough to slip his way through tiny cracks and crevices left by the interior units of opposing offensive lines. He possesses every skill set Rob Ryan wants in a 3-4 nose tackle.
After Tavon Austin, who is the most explosive player in this draft? Some say Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee. Ace Sanders seems the better answer to that question.
Sanders is tiny, especially compared to Patterson. He stands 5’7”, 173 pounds. He plays larger than that, though.
More importantly, Sanders has amazing vision in the open field which allows him to run to freedom in the return game. He can stop on a dime too. And eventually he will develop into an awesome slot receiver and deep threat.
He is already a better pass-catcher than most returner types. He seems like a steal in the sixth round.