OFFSIDES BLOG: WDSU Saints/NFL Mock Draft (version 2.0)

The Saints have the 15th selection in the 1st round of the NFL Draft this April.
Because the Saints defense allowed a record-setting 7,042 yards in 2012 it's
expected the franchise will use its first pick to find a playmaker on the
defensive side of the ball.
Two players projected to be selected in the top of the draft are University of
Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones and University of Utah NT Star Lotulelei.
Unfortunately, both Jones and Lotulelei have been red-flagged due to medical
conditions.
Jones (spinal stenosis) and Lotulelei (heart condition) will spend the next
month trying to convince NFL franchises they're okay to play.
Both could end up being selected with one of the top ten selections or they
could both fall out of the first round completely. Because of the uncertainty
surrounding those two guys most mock drafts are all over the place right now.
Below is or WDSU NFL mock draft through the Saints pick at #15.

#1 - Kansas City
Luke Joeckel/OT/Texas A&M
The Chiefs traded for quarterback Alex Smith so drafting a franchise tackle to
protect his blindside makes sense.

#2 - Jacksonville
Bjoern Werner/DE/Florida State
I'd love to send Dion Jordan or Kiki Mingo to the Jags but because the team runs
a 4-3 front those guys really don't fit. Werner is the best 4-3 defender on the
board and a safe pick. I still think Jacksonville could reach for Jordan or
Mingo and use him the way Seattle uses Bruce Irvin.

#3 - Oakland
Geno Smith/QB/West Virginia
This is one of the hardest picks in the draft. I think the Raiders land on Smith
because he's too good to pass up. The comparisons to RGIII will prompt Oakland
to draft Smith and hope he can turn the franchise around. The Raiders have other
needs and University of Florida DT Sharrif Floyd makes better sense for Oakland,
but Smith is the sexier pick.

#4 - Philadelphia
Eric Fisher/OT/Central Michigan
Saints fans remember how bad the Eagles offensive line was last season. The
Philly game may be the only time the Saints defense dominated a team.

#5 - Detroit
Ziggy Ansah/DE-OLB/BYU
A native of Ghana who's made a meteoric rise up draft boards after strong
workouts at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. I had Ansah going to the Saints
at #15 in my first mock draft back in December, no way he falls to #15 now. The
Lions staff coached Ansah at the Senior Bowl and reportedly love him.

#6 - Cleveland
Dee Milliner/CB/Aabama
Milliner ran a scorching time at the combine and is the best player on the board
for the Browns.

#7 - Arizona
Matt Barkley/QB/USC
New head coach Bruce Arians gets his franchise quarterback.

#8 - Buffalo
Dion Jordan/OLB-DE/Oregon
With Geno Smith and Matt Barkley off the board look for the Bills to go with one
of the best pass rushers available and maybe pickup QB Ryan Nessib in the 2nd
round.

#9 - New York Jets
Jarvis Jones/OLB/Georgia
Jets get the best pass rusher in the draft (if he lasts this long).

#10 - Tennessee
Chance Warmack/OG/Alabama
Titans need help on the interior of the offensive line.

#11 - San Diego
Star Lotulelei/NT/Utah
Can't see the Chargers passing on Lotulelei if he's still available at #11.

#12 - Miami
Cordarrelle Patterson/WR/ Tennessee
Dolphins get the WR they need.

#13 - Tampa Bay
Xavier Rhodes/CB/Florida State
Bucs take a player who can help their woeful pass defense.

#14 - Carolina
Sheldon Richardson/DT/Missouri
Panthers get a player who seems like a perfect 4-3 DT.

#15 - New Orleans
Barkevious Mingo/OLB-DE/LSU
This is an extremely hard pick to make. I'd love for Jarvis Jones to fall to the
Saints because I think he's the best pass rusher in the draft. But, even with
his spine condition I don't think 14 teams would be foolish enough to pass on
Jones. I'm not sure Mingo gets to #15 but he seems like the obvious choice if he
gets this far. The LSU OLB/DE is destined for a 3-4 defense, which the Saints
are implementing, had amazing workouts at the NFL combine and is a good kid and
a smart player who'd be a fan favorite from day one.
Mingo draws comparisons to 49ers OLB Aldon Smith.
Mingo's stats at LSU last season and his lack of production against the best
offensive lineman in the SEC worry me, but I feel like playing a different role
that better utilizes his skill set will help him.
All that said, I don't think Mingo is a "slam dunk" pick for New Orleans.
I think the Saints will give strong consideration to the following players at
#15:

Alex Okafor/OLB-DE/Texas
I think Okafor would be a tremendous sleeper for the Saints at #15.

Jesse Williams/NT/Alabama
Williams could compete immediately with Broderick Bunkley to be the Saints
starting Nose tackle.

Margus Hunt/DE/SMU
Flying up draft boards, so much size, speed and upside as a 3-4 DE.

Chase Thomas/OLB/Stanford
Forget his bad 40-yard dash time at the combine, Thomas was the leader of a very
good Stanford defense. He can blitz and drop into coverage. I think Thomas will
be a very good player and would assume former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh is
ready to take him in the late first or early second round.

Manti Te'o/ILB/Notre Dame
The Saints are set at one of the two middle linebacker positions with Curtis
Lofton. I liked Te'o in college and still like him now.

Saints 2nd Round:
Saints have no 2nd round draft pick. The franchise lost this selection as part
of the bounty punishment.

Saints 3rd Round:
Jordan Mills/OT/Louisiana Tech

I expect Jermon Bushrod will be back with the Saints but the team still lacks
depth at the position. Mills should be available in the 3rd round.

Saints 4th Round:
B.W. Webb/CB/The College of William & Mary

I had Southeastern Louisiana CB Robert Alford slated for this pick but I think
he'll be gone. Webb has also moved up draft boards after strong weeks at the
Senior Bowl and NFL Combine but I think he'll get to the Saints with this pick.

Saints 5th Round:
Travis Klece/TE/Cincinnati

Saints released Dave Thomas so finding a guy who can compete with Michael
Higgins for the second tight end spot (behind Jimmy Graham) makes sense.

Saints 6th Round
Cooper Taylor/S/Richmond

A small school star with great size and speed. Taylor could seemingly push
Rafael Bush and Isa Abdul Quaddus for a job.

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