2010 FC NFL Mock Draft: The Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints Select...
If winning the Super Bowl means being the last team to make a selection in the draft, then I hope the New Orleans Saints pick last every year.
With a deep draft class, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, there is no better year to get a good bargain.
Despite hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and having an opportunistic defense help lead them to victory, a defense that ranked in the 20s last year in both points and yards allowed needs to draft at least a couple of defensive starters if it hopes to repeat as world champions.
Gone is defensive end Charles Grant, who grossly underachieved in each of the past five seasons, and linebacker Scott Fujita, who signed an offer with the Cleveland Browns that the Saints couldn't afford to match.
Safety Darren Sharper remains unsigned but my money (and hopefully the Saints money) says that Sharper returns to the black and gold for one more season.
Today's NFL is primarily based on passing the ball and stopping the pass. Just look at the quarterbacks the Saints faced in the postseason: Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning. Favre and Manning are locks for the HOF, Warner appears to be at least a borderline candidate, and the Saints' Drew Brees is no slouch himself.
New Orleans can pass with the best of them but has trouble stopping the pass.
Enter TCU linebacker Daryl Washington.
Washington is the kind of athlete that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can get the most out of. His strengths as a player lie in his speed, quickness, and football intelligence.
Washington ran well at the combine and reportedly improved his 40 time at his pro day by more than one-tenth of a second to get in the low 4.5 range.
He plays the run very well sideline to sideline and displays an excellent ability to cover a running back or a tight end. Other than Jonathan Vilma, Saints' linebackers have struggled to consistently make plays in pass coverage.
Starting outside linebackers Fujita and Scott Shanle combined for the just three sacks over the past two seasons because they lack the speed necessary to get to the quarterback.
Washington's athleticism will add a new dimension to the Saints' defense and Williams will often utilize his speed and quickness to blitz the quarterback. As a Saint, Washington would be able to at least match Fujita's and Shanle's sack total as a rookie.
I also considered taking USC defensive end Everson Griffen at No. 32 because of the importance of rushing the quarterback and the Saints' meager depth at the position. However, after corresponding with fellow Saints featured columnist Will Osgood and some pondering of my own, I decided against it.
Griffen's talent and athleticism screams first round but there are too many questions about his motor and competitiveness to warrant a first round selection. New Orleans just got rid of one underachieving defensive end and don't want to waste a pick on another.
New Orleans must select the best available defensive front seven player, and in this mock draft, Daryl Washington fits the bill.
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