Saints mock draft 1.0: These 2 guys from schools in Midwest could quickly enhance Saints' offense |  Saints

Saints mock draft 1.0: These 2 guys from schools in Midwest could quickly enhance Saints’ offense | Saints

We’re officially one week away from the start of the 2022 NFL draft, and to commemorate the occasion, the Times-Picayune staff is putting on its General Manager hats to make the New Orleans Saints selections for them.

The Saints currently hold seven picks in the 2022 NFL draft, including Nos. 16 and 19 in the first round. There’s always a chance there will be a different number on the screen when the Saints are on the clock, but for the purpose of this exercise, we had them hold firm with their pair of first-rounders.

We ran through a number of simulated drafts using The Draft Network’s mock draft machine to come up with a pool of players who could potentially be available when the Saints make their selection, and then we asked members of our Saints coverage team to play General Manager for an afternoon.

Here’s how the top-15 shaped up in that simulation:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: OF Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

2. Detroit Lions: DE Travon Walker, Georgia

3. Houston Texans: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

4. New York Jets: CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati

5. New York Giants: OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State

6. Carolina Panthers: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

7. New York Giants: OF Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

8. Atlanta Falcons: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

9. Seattle Seahawks: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

10. New York Jets: OF Jermaine Johnson, FSU

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11. Washington Commanders: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

12. Minnesota Vikings: BC Derek Stingley, LSU

13. Houston Texans: OF George Karlaftis, Purdue

14. Baltimore Ravens: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia

15. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Drake London, USC

Rod Walker’s pick: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

Yes, I know Saints’ fans. You don’t want to see this team draft another lineman (on either side of the ball) in the first round. You’re looking for something at one of the sexier positions. But tackle is too big of a need to ignore now that Terron Armstead is down on South Beach with the Dolphins. Ideally, I’d trade these two first round picks and move up and grab one of the high profile tackles like Evan Neal (Alabama) or Charles Cross (Mississippi State). But since that wasn’t allowed here, I’m going with the best tackle left on the board in Penning. He’s big (two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Armstead). He’s strong. He’s athletic. And most important of all, he’s durable. Scouts also rave about his competitiveness and his mean streak. The Saints’ offensive line has been a strength in recent years and they will need a player like Penning to keep it that way.

With that said, back to the mock draft simulator for the Saints’ second pick of the first round.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: DT Devante Wyatt, Georgia

18. Philadelphia Eagles: IOL Zion Johnson, Boston College

Rod Walker’s pick: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

The Saints drafting an Ohio State player? Imagine that. The fact this simulation still has Olave around at 19 has to have Dennis Allen grinning from ear to ear. Getting a chance to fill the tackle need at 16 and still getting a quality receiver like Olava three picks later is a win-win. The Saints land a big-time receiver in Olave who gets to learn under the wings of fellow Buckeye Michael Thomas. With Olave, you greatly enhance the often-criticized receiver room. He brings speed (ran a 4.39 at the combine) that would give the Saints a big-play downfield threat, a perfect complement for Jameis’ Winston’s strong arm. Olave caught 65 passes for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns this past season, an average of 14.4 yards per catch. He had a catch of at least 35 yards or longer in 7 of 11 games, showing the type of big-play ability the Saints could use. If that’s not enough to sell you on him, he can also help on special teams if needed. In a deep class of receivers, Saints can grab one of the best ones here.

Luke Johnson’s picks: Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett, Alabama WR Jameson Williams (READ MORE HERE)

Amie Just”s picks: Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning, Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett (READ MORE HERE)

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