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The 2017 Sure-To-Be Wrong NFL Mock Draft (And Some Saints Thoughts)

*cue the Eminem* Guess who’s back…back again…

After a long winter of hibernation, I arise once again. And what, praytell, has made me dust the cobwebs, sweep the rat droppings and cast out the demons from this here old blog? Why it’s the NFL’s annual meat market! Better known as the “Draft” for those who aren’t aware, it’s the mechanism through which young, talented, collegiate football players can enter the professional ranks of a team.

Many people dismiss the Draft or think of it as silly that it’s become such a big deal. Me? I love it. I find that it’s the one time of the year — outside of the first weekend of the season — when all possibilities exist. All teams could unearth a gem in the 4th Round that would have their team dancing into the playoffs next season.  There are no busts on Draft weekend. Every CB will be a Pro Bowler. Every QB a star. (Truth is that, at best, it’s a 50-50 crapshoot buuuuuttt that doesn’t matter right now).

With that said, I hereby submit my own version of everyone’s favorite game: the mock draft. Picking which players will be taken by which team is always an interesting if futile endeavor. You can probably pick who goes #1 but the more you move down, the tougher it gets. Trades are impossible to predict and they will happen as teams fall in love with a player and become desperate to not lose him to a rival.  And teams may hint they love a player as a smokescreen to keep others off the scent of their true target.

OK, so all that said, here you go:

1. CLE:    Myles Garrett, DE Texas A&M
2. SF:    Mitchell Trubisky, QB North Carolina
3. CHI:    Jonathan Allen, DT Alabama
4. JAC:    Leonard Fournette, RB Louisiana State
5. TEN:    Malik Hooker, S Ohio State (f/LAR)
6. NYJ:    Marshon Lattimore, CB Ohio State
7. LAC:    Jamal Adams, S Louisiana State
8. CAR:    Christian McCaffrey, RB Stanford
9. CIN:    Solomon Thomas, DE Stanford
10.BUF:   Mike Williams, WR Clemson
11.NO:    Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee
12.CLE:    Patrick Mahomes II, QB Texas Tech (f/PHI)
13.ARI:    Reuben Foster, ILB Alabama
14.PHI:    Marlon Humphrey, CB Alabama
15.IND:    O.J. Howard, TE Alabama
16.BAL:    Haason Reddick, OLB Temple
17.WAS:    Obi Melifonwu, S Connecticut
18.TEN:    Corey Davis, WR Western Kentucky
19.TB:    David Njoku, TE Miami (FL)
20.DEN:    Garett Bolles, OT Utah
21.DET:    Taco Charlton, DE Michigan
22.MIA:    Jarrad Davis, ILB Florida
23.NYG:    Ryan Ramczyk, OT Wisconsin
24.OAK:    Dalvin Cook, RB Florida State
25.HOU:   Adoree Jackson, CB/KR Southern Cal
26.SEA:    Cam Robinson, OT Alabama
27.KC:    Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson
28.DAL:    Charles Harris, DE/OLB Missouri
29.GB:    Kevin King, CB Washington
30.PIT:    T.J. Watt, OLB Wisconsin
31.ATL:    Forrest Lamp, OG Western Kentucky
32.NO:    Tre’Davious White, CB Louisiana State

A few explanations? Sure. Why not?

  • This draft feels the most volatile of the last few years. Teams at the top have so many needs and no clear ranking of prospects (meaning a guy who’s #2 in one team’s board may be #11 in another). This also leads to teams willing to trade down in the hopes of snatching more of a bunch of similarly-ranked players. If there’s a draft to have multiple picks, this one might be it.
  • Things get even harder to predict when players have red flags like injuries (Jonathan Allen, Malik Hooker) or failed drugs tests (Jabrill Peppers, Reuben Foster) or worse (Gareon Conley, Joe Mixon).  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but, suffice it to say, there’s going to be teams letting really talented players get away from them for fear of past concerns rearing their ugly heads again.
  • Everyone’s said it: this draft is deep in defensive talent; namely CBs and Safeties. What isn’t it deep in? Offensive linemen (offensive tackles specifically) and Quarterbacks. That means if you want one of those, you may have to reach in order to get your guy. Unlike CB, where a 3rd-round prospect could become a starter, there’s likely a floor for other positions beyond which taking a player isn’t worth it. That brings those better prospects at those positions up on draft boards.

With that said, here’s a few thoughts on what my Saints will do:

  • Trade up, trade up, trade up.  (KIDDING! Or am I? This is Mickey Loomis.)
  • With 7 picks and none in rounds 4 or 5, it increases the importance of nailing those picks in rounds 1 through 3. Good thing is that’s 5 picks in the first 103 players taken.
  • With holes at DE and CB as well as depth questions at OT, S, WR, LB and QB, the Saints may not be able to meet all their needs with what they have unless they take a trade down with one of their first picks. I’d love for that to happen, but as we said earlier, many teams are looking to trade down. That means there may not be much in the way of a return for a big drop down the draft. (Plus, it’s not the Loomis way to trade down).
  • It would be crazy if Loomis lets 2 entire Rounds on Saturday pass him by and he doesn’t make any attempts to get back in. Maybe offering a conditional 3rd gets him into Rd 4 or something like that.
  • Would the Saints still draft Christian McCaffrey even though they just signed Adrian Peterson? Different RBs, I know, but there’s only one ball and having that crowded a backfield may mean less touches for all involved.
  • Given the low number of picks and high needs elsewhere, can the Saints afford to take another QB in this Draft? Some people have them taking Deshaun Watson at #32. Others have a Brad Kaaya or a Nathan Peterman in Round 3. While I don’t want to point to the failings of Garrett Grayson to develop, I’d say there’s more prescient needs and it’s not like any QB drafted this year could replace Drew Brees come the fall or even next year. Simply put, the Saints are gonna suck whenever Andrew Christopher Brees departs Airline Drive.  Worry about 2017 first!

 

So who would I take? If no trades:

11. Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee
32. Tre’Davious White, CB Louisiana State
42. Zach Cunningham, ILB Vanderbilt
76. Carlos Henderson, WR Louisiana Tech
103.Justin Evans, S Texas A&M
196. Will Holden, OT Vanderbilt
229.Channing Stribling, CB Michigan

My hope though is that the Saints are able to parlay one of those first round picks into a bevy of picks in Rounds 2-5. They need more talent and, with injuries always a play away, we cannot count on one guy to be the solution.

In any case, have fun, drink lots and hope your team lands that glorious prospect!

 

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