Adam Forsythe / April 20, 2022
Throughout this NFL offseason, the New Orleans Saints have been highly involved in the quarterback market. They have been connected to almost every available option from former Houston Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson to, most recently, former Mississippi QB Matt Corral as the team met with Corral on Tuesday. The Saints are certainly doing their homework on this year’s prospects, despite resigning Jameis Winston to a two-year contract.
This mock draft explores what it could look like if the Saints decide to add another quarterback to their roster when the NFL Draft starts on April 28.
Round 1, Pick 16: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
When the Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles completed a blockbuster trade that provided the Saints with two first round picks this year, many people thought the Saints made the move so they would have ammunition to trade up and select a QB in this year’s draft. However, in this mock draft, the Saints are able to stay put at 16th overall and select Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett.
Pickett spent five years with the Pittsburgh Panthers with four years of starting experience. The 6’3″ QB skyrocketed up draft boards after his 2021 season. Pickett completed 67.2% of his passes for 4,319 yards and a whopping 42 touchdowns, more than the previous four years of his collegiate career combined.
Pickett is an extremely talented QB who many consider to be the most pro-ready QB prospect in this year’s NFL draft. While Jameis Winston played well as the starter last season before tearing his ACL, the Saints may still be unsure if he can return to that form. Pickett could be the franchise QB that the Saints have searched for in the post-Drew Brees era.
Round 1, Pick 19: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
At 19th overall, the Saints give their new QB an electrifying weapon by selecting Jameson Williams.
Jameson Williams is a player I have previously mocked to the Saints in the first round. He is an explosively fast wide receiver, the likes of which the Saints desperately need. Although he suffered a torn ACL in the College Football Playoff National Championship, his rehab has progressed much faster than anticipated. When Williams can return to the field, he will provide the Saints with a dynamic wide receiver duo, pairing with star Michael Thomas.
Round 2, Pick 49: S Jalen Pitre, Baylor
After taking two offensive prospects in the first round, the Saints flip to the defensive side to select Baylor’s Jalen Pitre at 49th overall.
Pitre is a highly versatile player that would fit right into the Saints defense. The safety position was hit hard this offseason as the Saints lost both Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins. While they added three safeties this offseason, only former New York Jets safety Marcus Maye is expected to be a starter for the Saints with Daniel Sorensen and Justin Evans likely serving as depth pieces.
The former Baylor Bear enjoyed a Senior campaign in 2021 that earned him the honor of being named the BIG 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Pitre showed off his versatility by racking up 75 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and seven passes defended.
Pitre’s play style has been compared to free agent Tyrann Mathieu, who the Saints have been heavily connected to this offseason. If the Saints miss out on signing Mathieu, Pitre could still serve as an excellent addition to a stellar defense.
Round 3, Pick 98: OT Rasheed Walker, Penn State
The Saints fill the void left by Terron Armstead by selecting Penn State’s Rasheed Walker in the third round.
After Armstead’s departure via free agency, the Saints have options for how they want to replace him. The Saints could look to transition current starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk over to the left side of the line. That would then place a hole at the right tackle position, but that’s where Walker could step in. While Walker could develop into a solid left tackle in the NFL, he projects better as a right tackle at the next level.
Round 4, Pick 120: RB Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama
In the fourth round, the Saints add another Alabama running back to their backfield by selecting Brian Robinson Jr.
Running back is a sneaky need for the Saints. The Alvin Kamara situation is still unclear, though some form of suspension is almost certain. Behind Kamara, the Saints have former Alabama running back Mark Ingram II, but he is entering his 12th NFL season, and the Saints may be looking to add his eventual replacement.
Robinson Jr. is a violent, downhill runner who is very reminiscent of Ingram. Robinson Jr. gained over 1,300 yards on the ground and scored 14 touchdowns in the 2021 season. He also added 296 yards and two touchdowns through the air. While the passing game isn’t his specialty, he still offers value to the Saints backfield.
Round 5, Pick 161: LB Damone Clark, LSU
After selecting two Alabama players in this mock draft, the Saints dip into their own backyard and select LSU’s Damone Clark in the fifth round.
Clark is an athletic linebacker that fits the mold of former LSU linebackers like Patrick Queen and Devin White. The former LSU Tiger ranked first in the SEC in total tackles (135) in 2021 while logging 15.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Clark earned First-Team All-SEC honors and, at the Senior Bowl, was named best linebacker.
Clark’s skillset would likely have him ranked much higher on draft boards, however, there are medical concerns. In March, he underwent spinal fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk; a surgery that is likely to cause him to miss his entire rookie season in the NFL. This will cause him to fall into the later rounds, however, the Saints are in a position where they wouldn’t need Clark to step in immediately in 2021. Having this level of talent waiting in the wings to eventually step into the linebacker rotation is a luxury the Saints can’t pass up.
Round 6, Pick 194: WR Justyn Ross
This mock draft follows the same formula as my previous two versions, as the Saints double down on receiver with their sixth-round selection of Justyn Ross.
Ross missed the entire 2020 collegiate season due to spinal surgery, and when he returned in 2021, he dealt with inconsistent quarterback play. However, when going back to his tape in 2018 and 2019, it is easy to see the potential that Ross has. Over those two seasons, he gained over 1,800 yards through the air and scored 17 times. If Ross can return to that form, he could provide the Saints with another contributor in an upgraded offense.
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