This mock draft is a departure for us, as the Saints travel the long road to the 32nd pick and watch their prized prospects fall off the board. Weatherspoon, Kindle, Odrick, Hughes fall off the board as the second half of the first round rolls along.
NOPF's Mock Draft version 2.0
(1) St. Louis Rams - Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford
(2) Detroit Lions - Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
(3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
(4) Washington Redskins - Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
(5) Kansas City Chiefs - Tennessee S Eric Berry
(6) Seattle Seahawks - Oklahoma T Trent Williams
(7) Cleveland Browns - Clemson RB CJ Spiller
(8) Oakland Raiders -Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan
(9) Buffalo Bills - Iowa T Bryan Bulaga
(10) Jacksonville Jaguars - Florida CB Joe Haden
(11) Denver Broncos (from Chicago) - Michigan DE/LB Brandon Graham
(12) Miami Dolphins - Tennessee DT Dan Williams
(13) San Francisco 49ers - Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant
(14) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) - Texas S Earl Thomas
(15) New York Giants - Alabama CB Kareem Jackson
(16) Tennessee Titans - South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul
(17) San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina) - Alabama LB Ronaldo McClain
(18) Pittsburgh Steelers - Boise State CB Kyle Wilson
(19) Atlanta Falcons - Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
(20) Houston Texans - Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews
(21) Cincinnati Bengals - Idaho G/T Mike Iupati
(22) New England Patriots - Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski
(23) Green Bay Packers - Rutgers T Anthony Davis
(24) Philadelphia Eagles - Texas LB Sergio Kindle
(25) Baltimore Ravens - Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham
(26) Arizona Cardinals - Penn State DT Jared Odrick
(27) Dallas Cowboys - Florida C Maurkice Pouncey
(28) San Diego Chargers - Cal RB Jahvid Best
(29) New York Jets - TCU LB/DE Jerry Hughes
(30) Minnesota Vikings -Rutgers CB Devin McCourty
(31) Indianapolis Colts - Indiana G/T Rodger Saffold
(32) New Orleans Saints - Here's the best of what's left: Cal DT Tyson Alualu (AH-loo AH-loo), Florida DE Carlos Dunlap, USC DE Everson Griffen, USC S Taylor Mays, UCLA DT Brian Price, TCU LB Daryl Washington.
This scenario isn't ideal for the Saints, targets like Odrick, Hughes, Kindle and Weatherspoon are off the board. Alualu is very tempting because of his great intangibles and deceptive strength, but he doesn't have the kind of bulky athleticism that the Saints need next to Sedrick Ellis. Dunlap is physically rare but has red flags on his off-field character. Griffen is a phenomenal athlete and a good character player, but tape reveals too many plays where his effort vanished. Mays is a superior athlete who has significant issues with pass coverage - not exactly the investment to be usurp to replace Darren Sharper as safety alongside Roman Harper. Price is a solid space-eating defensive tackle with significant questions about his conditioning level. Washington played inside linebacker at TCU and is likely only a fit at the weakside linebacker job in the pros, not a position of need for the Saints.
In this unfavorable scenario, without a slam-dunk easy decision, the Saints will likely trade back, hoping to strike a deal with a team looking for a falling prospect like Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas, UMass T Vladimir Ducasse, or USC T Charles Brown. Or, to a team looking to assure they get Texas QB Colt McCoy.
What if the Saints cannot trade down?
Of the five prospects listed above, our guess would be that the Saints would give a splashy pass-rushing gift to Gregg Williams, rewarding him for a huge season. The Saints have two Trojans on the roster and have been scouting the program heavily every season. They have a lot of data on Everson Griffen, and if it all checks out, he'll be the pick in this scenario. Working him in a rotation with Bobby McCray will be an ideal situation for Griffen.
The Saints probably should have taken Price with that first pick, considering their lack of run stuffing interior defensive line personnel. Don't doubt that Loomis is still haunted by the ghosts of Norman Hand, Grady Jackson and Jonathan Sullivan. He'll avoid defensive tackles that can't control their weight, and that's Price's biggest issue.
The pick: LSU DT Al Woods
Al Woods' draft stock is dragged down by the boat anchor career he had before his senior season. But as a senior, Woods solved his weight issues. His offseason workouts were phenomenal, such as a 37" vertical leap that is unheard of in a 300+ man. Woods is drawing a lot of attention because he's going to be a better pro than college player. His ascent lands him at the bottom of the second round.
Round Three: Texas LB Roddrick Muckelroy
Supremely heady linebacker with a pro pedigree who graduated over a year ago. Very tough and a coach's dream.
Round Four: Wisconsin TE Garrett Graham
Round Six: East Carolina C/G Sean Allen
Round Seven: Pittsburgh QB Bill Stull