In our penultimate Mock Draft of 2012, we consider the impact that looming defensive suspensions will have on the Saints. Should the suspensions carry less than full-season suspensions, the Saints will need to staff up enough players to host two defenses - a depth chart for before the core of their defense is ripped away by suspensions, and one for after they return.
It may be easier for the Saints to manage with players like Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Shanle and Roman Harper suspended for the entire season. That would likely also mean that the Saints' hopes of a home-game Super Bowl are shot, if they aren't already.
Regardless of the suspension outcome, the Saints' decapitated 2012 draft class will be more valuable than ever to the team's 2012 defensive depth.
We have intentionally avoided repeating any players picked in v1.0, v2.0 or v3.0. Our final mock, before the draft, will consider all players.
First round, 27th Overall Pick - traded to New England
Second round, 59th Overall Pick - forfeited
Third round pick, 89th Overall Pick - New Orleans
Alabama DT Josh Chapman, 6'0 5/8, 316, 5.04 40
Tough as nails worker on the inside of the line was a rotational nose tackle for the National Champion Alabama defense. Played through a torn ACL in 2012 - no joke - and had surgery to repair it in January, missing the draft offseason. As a result, this stout but remarkably nimble defensive tackle should be there at the end of Friday night, when the Saints would be happy to add him to the rotation behind Sedrick Ellis and Broderick Bunkley. In the NFL, Chapman will be a quiet clogger and wouldn't be expected much to rush the passer.
Fourth round pick, 122nd Overall Pick - New Orleans
S Justin Bethel, Presbyterian, 5'11 5/8, 200, 4.56 40
Reigning Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year stunned Cal this past season by scoring two touchdowns - one on a blocked punt return touchdown and another on a gorgeous pick-six interception return. Cal won that game 63-12, with Bethel scoring all 12 points for the Blue Hose. Played cornerback at 1200-student Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, and became the first player ever from the school to go to the combine. He was invited as a safety and ran a pedestrian 4.58 40. Bethel has immediate special teams ability but as a four year starter was limited by inferior weight training and competition. Could quickly transform into a solid player, and may have to as a rookie in New Orleans.
Fifth round pick, 162nd Overall - New Orleans
CB Coty Sensabaugh, Clemson, 5'11 1/4, 189, 4.37 40
Super-quick team captain for a terrible Clemson defense that allowed 29+ points per game and surrendered a whopping 70 points to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Sensabaugh played more snaps than another other defender for the Tigers in 2011. Absolutely blazed the agility drills at the combine, running a 6.60 in the three-cone drill and a 4.37 40 yard dash. Nearly shut down South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffrey this season. But Sensabaugh never took the next step up in instincts and has only three career interceptions and one full season as a starter. Seems best suited for man-up, island work, but doesn't have a great tackling history. Needs coaching to put it all together but has smarts and character to work in the NFL. Cousin Gerald Sensabaugh, who was very close to becoming a Saint in 2009, is the starting safety for the Cowboys.
Sixth round pick (from Miami), 179th Overall - New Orleans
LB D.J. Holt, Cal, 6'0 3/8, 249, 4.85 40
Despite great size and power at inside linebacker, Holt was throughout his career overshadowed by teammates. Despite back-to-back 80-tackles seasons, he lacked speed and ability to break blocks. Played a lot of outside linebacker and played a lot outside the box despite being an inside linebacker. Solid from a character and intelligence standpoint, Holt probably does not have the speed to ever start in the NFL, but could be a contributor in goal line packages and special teams. Even in college he was much better against the run than the pass, and did not intercept a pass in 50 games over two and a half seasons as a starter. The Saints will have seen a lot of Holt on film next to 2011 first-round pick Cam Jordan and 2012 prospects DT Trevor Guyton and LB Mychal Kendricks, both of whom are hopeful targets for the Saints in the third round.
Seventh round pick, 234th Overall - New Orleans
DE/LB Matt Broha, Louisiana Tech, 6'4, 255, 4.84 40
Has 26 career sacks and as a senior was an All-WAC selection as a pass rusher. Had two sacks in the regular season finale as the Bulldogs shut out New Mexico State to win the WAC championship. Collected one of only five sacks on Boise State QB Kellen Moore in 2010. Has huge 10' 5/8" hands but 77" arms are too short to play end in the NFL, so Broha will make the transition to an edge pass rushing specialist if anything. Picked off and returned a pass 40 yards as a freshman, his only career interception. The Baton Rouge native has a top-notch character and work ethic and a history as a quarterback harasser. Louisiana Tech defense improved greatly in 2011 with Broha a senior - ranking 41st in the NCAA and tops in the WAC.