The Saints' lack of first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft has us in a peculiar position - for the first time since 2000, this Saints site has no first round pick to project for the home team.
While we will do a full 32-pick mock draft later in the offseason, we'll kick off our 2012 Draft season with a Saints-only mock, starting with the teams' first pick, the 59th overall near the end of the second round.
Second round, 59th Overall Pick - New Orleans
Ben Jones, Center, Georgia - 6'2.5, 316
Potentially in need of a new starting left guard and desirous of competition at center, the Saints will be in prime position to pick who will likely be the draft's second or third best interior offensive lineman at this point. A 39-game starter at center for a top collegiate program, Jones is a tough and dependable point man with fewer durability concerns than other interior linemen and the most experience. Offensive line will likely be a position addressed in the draft for the Saints, who managed Brian da la Puente as a substitute center and could lose LG Carl Nicks to a big-money free agency deal.
Third round pick - New Orleans
Sean Spence, Outside Linebacker, Miami - 5'11, 219, 4.62
Mini-sized outside linebacker draws comparisons to Saints RB Darren Sproles at his position. Playing both sides at outside linebacker, Spence has long arms and huge hands and was a tackling machine for Miami in three years as a starter. With obvious limitations in the power run game, Spence is a coverage linebacker for zone drops with sideline to sideline speed. He was the best defender for Miami the past two seasons, despite fighitng to keep his weight above 210. At the Senior Bowl, Spence was the quickest of the linebackers by far. Still, scouts challenge his ability to be effective with much taller tight ends like Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzales, and Kellen Winslow.
Fourth round pick - New Orleans
Duke Ihenacho, Safety, San Diego State - 6'0, 203, 4.60
Named three times to the All-WAC, once as a freshman linebacker and in 2009 and 2011 as a safety. In 2010, he missed all but two games with a broken foot. Older brother Carl is currently a defensive end/linebacker for the Oakland Raiders and was undrafted out of SJSU in 2010. A good special teamer and a productive defensive back with seven forced fumbles, seven interceptions and 143 tackles in four seasons and two games of a fifth. In October, Ihenacho returned a blocked extra point all the way, despite crossing the field and outrunning the kicking team with a limping hamstring injury.
Fifth round pick - New Orleans
DeAngelo Peterson, Tight End, LSU - 6'3, 230, 4.60
A terrific athlete more suited for the passing game, Peterson instead fought in the trenches of the Les Miles run-focused attack. Early in his senior season and at times as a junior, Peterson showed the downfield explosiveness he is capable of. With good speed and a powerful top frame, the New Orleans native should develop into a starting tight end with time.
Sixth round pick (from Miami) - New Orleans
Chris Owusu, Wide Receiver, Stanford - 5-11 3/4, 195, 4.50
The athletic Owusu was a star basketball and track runner in college, recovered from an serious knee injuries as a senior in high school and a freshman at Stanford. Limited by injuries the past two seasons as well, including knee and hand injuries and a three, possibly four, concussions in a 12-month span. Having faced all of that adversity, Owusu remains talented physically and sharp mentally - an excellent route runner with great hands and a skilled kick returner. A inspirational close friend of QB Andrew Luck, Owusu had to watch as his teammates lost to Oklahoma State in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.
Seventh round pick - New Orleans
Michael Cosgrove, Defensive Tackle, Idaho - 6'3 1/2, 300
Constantly absorbed double teams as a disruptive threat for the Vandal defense. Played in 49 of 50 possible games and started 38 games after a redshirt freshman season.