April 24, 2013

Final NOPF 2013 NFL Mock Draft - Alternate Universe

We'll follow up our final mock draft with another project based on two projected trades, including a complete projected seven-pick draft class for the Saints.

The Saints trade with Jets.

  • Jets get: RB Chris Ivory.
  • Saints get: 5th round pick (141st overall)

The Saints trade down with the 49ers.
  • 49ers get: 1st round pick (15th overall)
  • Saints get: 1st round pick (31st overall), 2nd round pick (34th overall) (from Kansas City) 
Why?  The Saints at 15 are in prime position at 16 to trade down to a team looking to steal WR Tavon Austin from the St. Louis Rams, who covet the top wide receiver in the draft.

In other words, on Thursday night, watch for Tavon Austin.  He could be the most important player to the Saints in this draft.

For sake of sanity, we will not project any other trades, though there were 19 trades in the first round last year, and we could see even more in 2013.  

Here's how it could go...

(For complete pick text, see our Final Mock Draft.)

1. Kansas City Chiefs - Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel*

2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher*

3. Oakland Raiders - Florida DT Sharrif Floyd*

4. Philadelphia Eagles - Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson*

5. Detroit Lions - Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan

6. Cleveland Browns - Alabama G Chance Warmack

7. Arizona Cardinals - North Carolina G Jonathan Cooper

8. Buffalo Bills - BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah

9. New York Jets - Alabama CB Dee Milliner*

10. Tennessee Titans - Houston CB DJ Hayden

11. San Diego Chargers - LSU DE Barkevious Mingo*

12. Miami Dolphins - Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes*

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson*

14. Carolina Panthers - Utah DT Star Lotulelei

15. San Francisco 49ers (from New Orleans Saints) - West Virginia WR Tavon Austin

The Saints want to see the wide receivers and quarterbacks drop.  It will draw teams to trade up.

16. St. Louis Rams - Texas S Kenny Vaccaro - Without Austin on the board, Rams are heartbroken.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Alabama RT DJ Fluker

18. Dallas Cowboys - North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams

19. NY Giants - Georgia LB Alec Ogletree*

20. Chicago Bears - Kansas State LB Arthur Brown

21. Cincinnati Bengals - LSU S Eric Reid

22. St. Louis Rams (from Redskins) - Tennessee WR Justin Hunter*

23. Minnesota Vikings - Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson*

24. Indianapolis Colts - Georgia LB Jarvis Jones

25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks) - Georgia DT Johnathan Jenkins

26. Green Bay Packers - Florida State DE Bjoern Werner

27. Houston Texans - Washington CB Desmond Trufant

28. Denver Broncos - Boise State CB Jamar Taylor

29. New England Patriots - UCLA DE Datone Jones

30. Atlanta Falcons - UConn CB Blidi Wreh-wilson

31. New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco 49ers) - 

Saints emerge at the bottom of the first round to see the top flight of pass rushers and safeties gone, both Georgia linebackers off the board and a wave of cornerbacks passed as well.  We would guess that Geno Smith is off the board by this point via a trade back into the second half of the first round.

Given the talent around at the bottom of the first round, it is quite telling of the popularity of today's sport that we will highlight three international products.

Top players remaining on the board include raw Florida State OT Menelik Watson, a British export turned left tackle.  Watson has just one year of junior college and one year at Florida State as his only American football experience, with rugby and basketball as his sports experience before that.  Watson has high upside as a pass blocker, but would have to earn the Saints trust in a big way and in a short amount of time in order to see the field as a rookie.  On the other hand, the argument could be made, could he be any more unready than Jason Smith or Charles Brown?

Native Estonian Margus Hunt is a 6'8, 277 pound athletic freak, with an enormous wingspan, strength and speed. A junior Olympics gold medalist thrower in track in 2006, he joined the SMU football team in 2009 when the track and field program was cut.  A better athlete than football player right now, he owns the NCAA blocked field goals record.  He plays hard and pursues like a linebacker, but is unrefined and at his height, doesn't have the technician's hands yet to disengage from blockers who can easily take his leverage away underneath his skyscraping frame.  The Saints have been scouting Hunt since they drafted Thomas Morstead out of SMU.

Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks is the next cornerback on the board, a big 6'2 safety excelling in the press coverage that Rob Ryan wants to employ.  Banks, a Bulldogs team captain, might be remembered for pick-sixing Florida's Tim Tebow twice, or for winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back.  He isn't the most physical, and his deep range isn't elite like some of the players drafted before him, but Banks has the perfect skillset for Ryan's scheme.

This second-to-last first round pick has an advantage numbers-wise - players sign four year deals with an affordable fifth year team option, whereas second round picks just get the four year deal.  Locking a critical position like left tackle down with a late first rounder is an affordable way to find a key player at a bargain, so the Saints can't miss.  We'll predict Florida State OT Menelik Watson here, as the Saints add more competition at a critical spot.

32. Baltimore Ravens - Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o

33. Kansas City - Purdue DT Kawann Short

34. New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco 49ers) - Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks

Saints get the big, tall cornerback they want in Banks, who will immediately put pressure on Patrick Robinson for the starting job.

2nd round (14th pick) forfeited as punishment for the bounty scandal and coverup

3rd round (13th pick, 75th overall) - Samford DT Nicholas Williams
Big, physical defensive tackle was scouted by the Saints along with teammate and Saints 2012 draft pick Corey White. 6'4, 310 former basketballer has a fantastic motor and worked 75 pounds of muscle onto his frame during college.  Raw and playing against lesser competition, Williams isn't a developed trenches player yet but commands attention with big-time promise. He'll learn while in rotation with Brodrick Bunkley.

4th round (12th pick, 109th overall) - USC S T.J. McDonald
A pick from our sixth mock draft, McDonald is the son of USC and 49er great Tim McDonald, T.J. (Tim Jr.) has all the pedigree that the Saints want. And the Saints do value pedigree want (see: Jordan, Ingram, Toon).  Like his father, was a USC team captain and an All-American.  A free safety with great size at 6'2, 219, McDonald is a big hitter who better as a center-fielding safety as a junior than a close-in-the-box enforcer as a senior, and his stock is dropping.  Can jump out the roof and has fantastic intangibles.  Experience and willingness on special teams.  Not one of the elite safeties in the draft because film is full of mediocre tackling, inconsistent coverage and a lack of killshots.  Safeties who go higher in this draft have the knack for devastation that McDonald does not.

5th round (8th pick, 141th overall) (from New York Jets) - Oklahoma QB Landry Jones 
A pick from our fifth mock draft, don't be surprised to see the Saints move on a developmental quarterback on the third day of the draft.  A pure pocket passer, 6'4 Jones not dissimilar Drew Brees in college - a student of the game, a tough, intense competitor, smallish hands, and passed over in the draft because of a gimmicky offense. Saints want to challenge Seneca Wallace and Luke McCown with a third day draft pick.

5th round (11th pick, 144th overall) - Purdue CB Josh Johnson
A pick from our first mock draft, Johnson is a very productive tackling cornerback at 5'11, 195 who collected 10 tackles in a game vs Penn State, and 9 tackles and four passes defensed in a game vs Notre Dame as a senior. Started for three seasons for the Boilermakers, 36 consecutive games.

6th round (15th pick, 183rd overall) - Southern Methodist OLB Ja'Gared Davis
A pick from our second mock draft, Davis is an experienced linebacker who started as a freshman and was making plays when the Saints were scouting Thomas Morstead at SMU.  Veteran special teamer and linebacker who recorded two touchdowns, four sacks, two interceptions, seven passes defensed, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 77 tackles, a blocked punt and eleven tackles for loss as a senior. Four year contributor had nine sacks as a sophomore. Has five career touchdowns as a linebacker. Helped SMU whup Fresno in the Hawaii Bowl in December.

7th round (14th pick, 200th overall) - traded to Seattle for LB Barrett Ruud

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