Exactly one week away from the NFL Draft, anticipation among Football fans is at an all-time high. The New Orleans Saints,poised to make the first of their 7 picks next Thursday night in New York, are just as eager to add a fresh injection of young talent to the cupboard as any team across the league. While moves could certainly be made over the course of the draft's 7 rounds, here is how things shape up for the Saints in terms of their picks as of today...
New Orleans Saints 2014 draft choices
- 1st round- 27th overall
- 2nd round- 58th overall
- 3rd round- 91st overall
- 4th round- 126th overall
- 5th round- 167th overall
- 5th round- 169th overall*
- 6th round- 202nd overall
*- From New England via Philadelphia
Assuming things stand pat, and the Saints make their selections at each one of these picks, let's get our mock draft underway.
1st Round (27th overall) Jason Verrett-CB-TCU
The Saints have upgraded their personnel at both Safety and corner this offseason. They brought in former Bills Safety Jairus Byrd, while also agreeing to terms with future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey in free agency. In addition, the Saints have run the rule over several defensive back prospects over the last several weeks. TCU Cornerback Jason Verrett
Despite the signing of Bailey, the team still has a need and a want for a corner that could eventually be groomed into a long-term starter opposite Keenan Lewis. Verrett, a 5'9 189 cover man possesses essential skills to excel at the Cornerback position. A great quick-twitch athlete with tremendous ball and coverage skills, the former Horned Frog could be a nice fit on the defensive side of the ball for New Orleans. With great speed (4.38 forty, 10 ft 8 in broad jump) and gobs of potential, Verrett could be the kind of prospect to develop behind Lewis and Bailey, while competing with the likes of Corey White and Patrick Robinson for snaps in the team's nickel and 4-2-5 packages. He may be undersized, but Verrett plays bigger than he is, and is willing and able to help in run support.
2nd Round (58th overall) Davante Adams-WR-Fresno State
One of the most productive receivers in College Football last year, Adams teamed with Derek Carr to provide an exceptionally potent pass/catch duo that produced 131 catches for 1,718 yards and a whopping 24 touchdowns. The 6-1 212 Adams would fill another high ranking need for the Saints, who would like to add talent at the receiver position. Lance Moore is now in Pittsburgh, and although the team has brought back former 2007 first-rounder Robert Meachem, New Orleans would like to add another playmaker behind Marques Colston. Kenny Stills is primed for a big 2nd season, and a player like Adams could have a chance to make a notable impact as a rookie next year.
Adams has a terrific pair of hands, and possesses great ball skills for a receiver. Able to use his strong build to snatch the ball out of the air, Adams has upside as an athletic red zone target. His knowledge of the game and route running must improve, but there may not be a better system to grow in than one that involves Sean Payton calling plays with Drew Brees at the controls.
3rd Round(91st overall) Jordan Zumwalt-LB-UCLA
The Saints will likely look to add an outside Linebacker at some point, and the former Bruins standout could be their man if he is still available late in round 3. Zumwalt played in a 3-4 alignment at UCLA, which is Rob Ryan's base scheme. The 6'4 235 'backer has the size to play in the 3-4, as well as plenty of energy and intensity. He hits hard, moves well within the defense, and has plenty of experience in both coverage and as a blitzer out of the 3-4. He will need to get stronger to produce and play consistently at the next level, but could be a nice value get at this point in the draft based on his body of work in Westwood.
4th round (126th overall) James Gayle-DE-Virginia Tech
The former Hokie would provide more depth in the front 7. Able to rush off the edge as a down lineman or blitz from a stand-up position, Gayle may be gone by this point, but would be another valuable pick for the Saints if still on the board.
An explosive athlete with developmental upside and a natural pass rush skill set, Gayle projects as a player who can provide pressure in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. That kind of versatility coupled with his high Football awareness would make him a nice selection late in round 4.
5th round(167th overall) Bryan Stork - C - Florida State
Having already visited with the Saints, Stork is regarded as one of the top Centers in this year's draft. The Saints have a need with last year's starter Brian de la Puente now a member of the Chicago Bears. The team has considered bringing back former starter Jonathan Goodwin, and is high on the potential of Tim Lelito, but Stork would be a great choice if available.
Florida State's Bryan Stork has already met with the Saints.
The 6-4 315 former Seminole helped lead his team to the BCS national title, blocking for Heisman winner Jameis Winston while reeling in the Rimington Award, given to the nation's best Center. Stork also garnered first team All-ACC honors, and has experience blocking in a pro-style offense. Stork would be another pick that could satisfy both need and want for New Orleans, and his potential selection could make for an interesting training camp battle for the Center position.
5th round (169th overall)
The Saints acquired this pick in the trade that sent Running Back Darren Sproles to the Philadelphia Eagles. The 6'1 326 Kerr would provide depth behind Brodrick Bunkley and John Jenkins at the nose. Though he agreed to a pay cut last month, Bunkley could still find his playing time and possibly roster spot in flux, given the development of Jenkins and potential depth and competition that a rookie like Kerr would bring to the table.
Kerr began his collegiate career at Maryland before landing with the Fighting Blue Hens. He has a wide body and uses his hands to his strength. Kerr developed both on and off the field during his time at Delaware, and should attract plenty of attention from teams like the Saints who are looking to add depth, talent and competition at the nose.
6th round (202nd overall) George Atkinson III-RB-Notre Dame
Even after the Sproles trade, the Saints still have a capable stable of backs. Pierre Thomas agreed to a contract extension earlier in the offseason while the team is high on the futures of both Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. Travaris Cadet should get a look to help fill the shoes of Sproles, but the Saints could take a luxury flyer with this pick, and Atkinson III is a player who could catch their eye.
At 6'1 218, Atkinson has a great combination of size and speed (4.40) and excels in the open field with great acceleration and change of direction. He comes from a great bloodline, as his father, George Jr. played for the Oakland Raiders, where he helped the team win Super Bowl XI. The former Irish standout could also help out in the return game, where his speed would be invaluable. Like a lot of young backs, he often looks to hit the home run too often, breaking runs to the outside and trying to beat defenders with his speed instead of trusting the play and exploiting the holes. George Atkinson III
Atkinson will have to prove himself, having seen his role reduced towards the end of the year. He would certainly have to earn his touches in a backfield that returns 3 capable backs who helped the Saints make the postseason in 2013. The Saints could certainly look to the undrafted free agent pool for another talent at the position, having plucked both Thomas and Robinson from there in the past. Atkinson, however, may appeal to them as a player that could contribute in multiple fashions.
That is how we see things panning out for the Saints, would the draft order stay as is. This, of course, is a highly unlikely scenario, but most of these players should be available when the Saints are scheduled to be on the clock, and should draw interest from New Orleans. The team will spend the next seven days finalizing their draft plans, big boards, and preparing their list of coveted players that could potentially go undrafted. As fans, all we have to do over the course of the next seven days is wait patiently with bated breath. Good luck.
See also- Saints' Draft Needs Post-Free Agent Frenzy