With free agency opening on the afternoon of March 13, mock drafts will be shaken and stirred, especially those surrounding the Saints franchise, where a host of premiere free agents will hit the open market.
After the combine, we update our seven-round Saints-only prediction for the Saints' decapitated 2012 draft class. Without a first round pick in the draft, and standing to lose more draft picks because of the bounty scandal, we begin our mock draft in the tenuous second round.
We wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints forced to wait until Day Three to make a selection in 2012.
We have intentionally avoided repeating any players picked in v1.0.
Second round, 59th Overall Pick - New Orleans
LB Mychal Kendricks, California, 5'11, 240, 4.47 40
The faster linebacker at the Scouting Combine was already on the Saints' radar when they scouted 2011 first round pick DE Cameron Jordan at Cal. Like Jordan, Kendrick's father played in the league, briefly with the Eagles after an outstanding career as a runningback at UCLA in 1970-71. Fiery, intense Kendricks played inside in the 3-4 at Cal but has motor and speed to make up for being undersized. Could play inside or outside in the NFL. Despite being regarded as quicker than fast, he torched the 40 yard dash. Played in all 13 games as a sophomore despite a shoulder injury which he fought through, started full time as a junior and senior and is the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year with 96 tackles and 13 TFL as a senior. Was suspended for the first series of a game early in the season for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Third round pick - New Orleans
OL Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State (Texas), 6'3, 311, 5.43 40
Formed from the old mold of offensive linemen, Silatolu went the juco route, didn't academically qualify for the University of Nevada and ended up at Division II Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, TX. With the departure of Carl Nicks imminent, the Saints are likely to target Silatolu in the early rounds of this draft. A tackle at the collegiate level like Jermon Bushrod and Nicks before him, Silatolu could follow a similar route to the interior of the Saints' offensive line. Silatolu ran poorly at the combine and pressed 225 pounds 28 times, a middling number for linemen.
Fourth round pick - New Orleans
DE Jake Bequette, Arkansas, 6'4, 274, 4.82 40
High football intelligence, high effort Bequette is an textbook-sized edge rusher with an edgy attitude. Was a force of nature vs. South Carolina, sacking QB Connor Shaw three times and handing the young QB his only loss of the season. 23.5 sacks in his career including 10 as a senior. Recorded the tackle for loss on Arkansas' controversial safety against Ohio State in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Not a great athlete but with a good frame, Bequette needs to increase functional strength in a pro locker room. Bequette ran a fantastic 6.90s three-cone drill at the Combine, third fastest of d-linemen, and faster than all but three of the runningbacks present. With both backups Jeff Charleston and Turk McBride set to hit free agency, the Saints will need rotational players at the position.
Fifth round pick - New Orleans
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, 5'10, 192, 4.50e 40
Incredibly productive, Broyles is recovering from a torn ACL suffered on November 5, 2011. The all-time receptions (349) leader in FBS and second in yardage (4,568), the All-American Broyles is a great story- pinched for stealing gas in 2007 but matured into a team leader by his senior season. Despite his historic productivity, Broyles will need to become a professional run blocker and route runner before starting in the NFL. Dangerous as a punt returner as well before his injury, Broyles would find himself on a team that has proven it can be patient and wait for receivers to emerge. Broyles pressed 225 pounds up a solid 21 times at the Combine - the only drill he could participate in with his knee injury. Not all the Saints' receiving corps was a rookie success like Marques Colston - Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and Adrian Arrington have all been given multiple seasons of development. Broyles would have few better than Moore to learn from as a receiver of his style.
Sixth round pick (from Miami) - New Orleans
TE Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern, 6'2, 241, 4.64 40
Versatile receiver fullback with tight end size and speed. Scored from 66 yards out on a spinning, tackle-busting, sideline-stepping run against Auburn in the Outback Bowl in 2010. An All-Big 10 tight end Dunsmore, he's the son of former Chicago Bears TE Pat Dunsmore, part of Ditka's 1985 championship team. Of all tight ends at the draft, Drake's 4.03 20-yard shuttle run was tops, better than all but three of the wide receivers present.
Seventh round pick - New Orleans
TE Nick Provo, Syracuse, 6'3, 237, 4.8 40
Former Saints assistant Doug Marrone sends an intelligent, hard-working workman back to New Orleans. An experienced outlet pass receiver in Marrone's pro style schema, Provo made the All-Big East team. Caught three touchdowns against West Virginia and is one of the most prolific tight ends in school history. Should be able to pick up special teams work immediately.