Saints 2013 Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Projections for New Orleans
The NFL draft begins tonight at 7 PM CT. The New Orleans Saints are slated to select 15th overall. The team then does not possess a draft pick until the 13th pick of the third round, which will be the 75th pick overall (the Saints and Cleveland each forfeited second-round picks).
With those first two picks, the Saints are hoping to find players who can contribute from day one in black and gold. Ideally those players would be starters (starters include nickel corner, slot receiver, third-down pass-rusher, etc.).
While many mock drafts this week are trying to slot players where they will be selected, this one is going to take the opposite approach by slotting players who should be selected.
First Round, Pick No. 15: Alex Okafor, DE/OLB, Texas
Barkevious Mingo will be long gone by the time the Saints' first-round selection is on the clock. Jarvis Jones is overrated. Kenny Vaccaro may be gone, and even if he's not, he's not the playmaker the Saints need in the secondary.
The only other realistic option at this pick would be Desmond Trufant. But a pass-rusher is a more pertinent need than another corner.
Thus it is Alex Okafor, the best pass-rusher, based on advanced metrics, in the entire 2013 draft. Of course it would be ideal for the Saints to trade down, acquire an extra pick or two, and make Okafor the selection later in the round.
That may or may not be realistic. That notion is also based on the idea that there's such thing as reaching for a player. In my estimation, there is not. I would rather get my guy than take a chance he is not there at 25-ish.
Whether the Saints trade down or stay put at 15, it is clear Okafor should be the Saints' initial pick of the 2013 draft.
Third Round, Pick No. 13: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
Markus Wheaton is pretty much a Devery Henderson clone. The Saints elected not to re-sign the native New Orleanian, who has only played for the Saints, this offseason.
Instead, the team has loaded up on former Oregon State Beavers. Why not add another?
Wheaton ran a 4.4 40-yard dash. Scouts shouldn't put too much stock into that measurement. But it proves one thing: Wheaton has straight-line speed. In a year or two, Wheaton can become an effective deep threat for the Saints.
In the interim, he can probably return kicks and make a play or two in the slot in certain offensive packages (the Saints rotate their receivers as much as any team in the league).
Fourth Round, Pick No. 12: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
The Oregon State Beaver train continues. The Saints are still in the hunt to add another body to the corner spot. After releasing Johnny Patrick and not re-signing Elbert Mack this offseason, the team is still minus one in bodies at the position.
It only makes sense the team would add depth, and a potential impact player, at the position in this draft. It is a draft where depth at the corner spot is tremendous.
Poyer projects as a nice nickel corner, who can play the slot with relative ease. He has great hip swivel and ability to turn and run with receivers. He also seems to have the playmaker gene that is so desirous to find in a defensive back.
The Saints could do a lot worse with the 109th pick in the 2013 draft.
Fifth Round, Pick No. 11: Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State
Reid Fragel is pretty much a poor man's version of Menelik Watson. Both are right tackles who actually project to playing either side of the line in the NFL.
Both are great athletes who once played a different position. In Fragel's case, he was a tight end at Ohio State before being moved to tackle because of his size and natural ability.
His athleticism would allow the Saints to run a lot of the outside run concepts the team loves to use. It would also allow it continue to excel in the screen game.
And there's little doubt that Fragel has the requisite strength and change of direction to handle opposing pass-rushers.
In all, Fragel is a prospect who should be a third-rounder. He becomes incredible value in the fifth round.
Sixth Round, Pick No. 15: Lawrence Okoye, NT, Croydon, London
Lawrence Okoye (seen here) was an Olympic discuss thrower for Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Before that he was a rugby player.
In other words, Okoye has made a transition from one sport to another successfully. He is now trying to transition to football. Standing 6'5", 304 pounds, Okoye has all the traits to become a successful NFL nose tackle, especially in a defense which uses 4-3 concepts like Rob Ryan's does.
The Saints brought Okoye in for a workout Friday, April 12. Okoye has risen up draft boards due to his being a workout warrior and likely the fact he's made a successful transition from one sport to another already in his brief athletic career.
Though the Saints only possess five picks in the draft, the roster is stacked with depth. Nose tackle seems to be taken care of already with Brodrick Bunkley and Akiem Hicks. The team could also still make a play for Alan Branch or Sione Pouha if they leave the 2013 draft without a player they deem better than those two, right now.
Make no mistake, Okoye would be considered a project. For that reason, the San Francisco 49ers seem the better fit. San Francisco is the other team who has worked out Okoye and shown genuine interest, as reported by Pro Football Talk.
Still, it is possible the Saints could make this pick, since the team took a chance on Jimmy Graham after he played just one season of college football after playing basketball his first three years at Miami.