How much fun is this?
Have you ever tried to write up a mock draft? Really tried, knowing that tens of thousands of monthly readers will be viewing it?
Fun? Challenging? An entertaining exercise in NFL fandom, this is not.
Frustrating? Sapping of volition? Emasculating? That's more like it. The annual NFL Draft, our second favorite time of year here at NOPF (behind only training camp) is a bittersweet season. No team can really lose. All the real work is done by team-paid professionals, whose job this is.
Well, mock draft prestidigitation isn't our job. It's a time-sapping, cerebrally-draining effort that will invariably find disagreement, dissension and disembowelment coming down from every angle of public NFL fandom.
That being said, here's our fourth attempt. Each version has a different take on the Saints' thoughts with the board as it is, be sure to read up.
For our final attempt, we are projecting one trade: the Falcons give up a bounty of picks, current year and future, and possibly a player to move up to #2. The Lions move down from #8.
1 Oakland QB Jamarcus Russell LSU
2 Atlanta (from Detroit) WR Calvin Johnson Georgia Tech
3 Cleveland QB Brady Quinn Notre Dame
4 Tampa Bay DE Gaines Adams Clemson
5 Arizona T Joe Thomas Wisconsin
6 Washington DT Amobi Okoye Louisville
7 Minnesota S Laron Landry LSU
8 Detroit (from Atlanta from Houston) T Levi Brown Penn State
9 Miami LB Patrick Willis Ole Miss
10 Houston (from Atlanta) CB Darrelle Revis Pittsburgh
11 San Francisco DE Adam Carriker Nebraska
12 Buffalo RB Adrian Peterson Oklahoma
13 St. Louis DE Jamaal Anderson Arkansas
14 Carolina TE Greg Olsen Miami
15 Pittsburgh LB Paul Posluszny Penn State
16 Green Bay RB Marshawn Lynch Cal
17 Jacksonville S Reggie Nelson Florida
18 Cincinnatti LB Lawrence Timmons Florida State
19 Tennessee WR Robert Meachem Tennessee
20 New York Giants WR Ted Ginn, Jr. Ohio State
21 Denver DT Alan Branch Michigan
22 Dallas CB Leon Hall Michigan
23 Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe LSU
24 New England (from Seattle) LB David Harris Michigan
25 New York Jets DT Justin Harrell Tennessee
26 Philadelphia CB Aaron Ross Texas
27 New Orleans WR Dwayne Jarrett USC
A week ago, before stealing Jason David and re-upping with Charles Grant, this would have been a nightmare of a decision. One of the top pass rushers is available, Florida DE Jarvis Moss, but it just doesn't make sense. Some of the top offensive lineman are also available. UNLV CB Eric Wright is here too, waiting for somebody to cap off his recovery from off-field issues. Instead, the Saints can just take the highest rated player on the board and since their depth chart has no quenchable hunger pains. The only player in the first round that could force the Saints' hand is TE Greg Olsen, who would satisfy the only real need.
Other possible picks: Wright, Moss, Auburn G Ben Grubbs, Arkansas CB Chris Houston, Ohio State WR Anthony Gonzales, Miami LB Jon Beason, and Purdue DE Anthony Spencer. Your guess is as good as ours.
What we're essentially saying here is that Jarrett is the top prospect on the board. Lets also assume that the Saints at some point called up Reggie Bush in California and asked him his opinion of his former teammate. Maybe Bush even handed the phone to Jarrett. Even with a glaring need, Loomis would insist on taking the top prospect (see: Deuce McAllister, Will Smith).
A huge target at 6'4, 220 with an amazing range of catchability, Jarrett has the typical receiver mentality and attitude, which can be good if handle properly. He really made Leinart and Booty look good, catching passes between his ankles and the goalposts and everywhere inbetween. Is fast for college but only quick in the NFL and unless he improves his foot speed is probably going to be limited to a red zone and possession guy. More like Marques Colston than Keyshawn Johnson, and would make a Saint offense even more unstoppable.
28 New England T Joe Staley C. Michigan
29 Baltimore G Ben Grubbs Auburn
30 San Diego S Michael Griffin Texas
31 Chicago LB Jon Beason Miami
32 Indianapolis S Brandon Meriweather Miami
Saints seven-round projection:
2nd Round: LB Tim Shaw Penn State
Poz's runningmate at Penn State, Shaw is a blue-collar type of linebacker that Bill Parcells, and thus Sean Payton, would like. The fact that he was clocked at 4.47 by at least one clock in the 40 and played a number of positions for the Lions helps push him into the late second. Shaw should be able to challenge Scott Shanle, new contract and all, for playing time.
3rd Round: TE Matt Spaeth Minnesota
Saints rescue/banish Spaeth from the frigid land of 10000 lakes to the balmy land of one big lake. Towering at over seven feet tall, Spaeth is one of the better blocking tight ends and has experience as a receiving weapon.
4th Round: QB Troy Smith Ohio State
Smith carries some off-field baggage and entitlement baggage, but otherwise sounds a lot like Brees did when he was coming out of college. It took Brees years of coaching, veteran influence and extra effort to overcome his physical limitations. Smith is in store for the same, and Payton's quarterback development history might be one of the better places for Smith to land in the NFL. The Saints and Ohio State's football coaching staff spent time together this offseason, and you can bet Smith came up more than once.
4th Round: DT Jay Alford Penn State
Bit of a tweener between end and tackle is in the Brian Young mold. More quick than strong and very coachable, but limited by size and like Young, will have to master his technique and physical training to start in the NFL. Saints saw a lot of film on Alford as he blocked for Shaw and Posluszny.
5th Round: CB Corey Graham New Hampshire
Raw and untested at New Hampshire despite being a fifth-year senior and a four-year starter. But will that experience translate to the NFL? Solid measurables and great size at six feet and change.
7th Round: G Ryan Keenan Northwestern
Played next to Zach Strief at Northwestern and like Strief is a fine athletic prospect with great smarts and a mean streak, but needs to really improve his functional strength and develop football instinct. In a year or two could challenge Jamar Nesbit for the left guard job, given expected improvement.