Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential draft-day solutions.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
Saints Team Need No. 1: Defensive Line
The Saints’ defense took a big step forward as a unit last year, but they still ranked a below-par 22nd in QB hits (83) and 23rd in Football Outsiders’ run-defense DVOA. Hau’oli Kikaha is better suited for a situational role than starting defensive end, and depth is needed on the interior line.
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Saints Team Need No. 2: Pass Catcher
Cameron Meredith’s acquisition theoretically lessened this need, but he is coming off a torn ACL and MCL and is new to the Saints’ complex offense. No. 2 WR Ted Ginn is 33, and No. 1 TE Ben Watson turns 38 later this year. Willie Snead seems to have fallen out of favor. New Orleans needs more talent at wideout and a potential long-term solution at tight end.
Saints Team Need No. 3: Linebacker
The Saints paid big money to MLB Demario Davis after his career year with the Jets. Weak- and strong-side linebacker are up for grabs to a mishmash of Craig Robertson, A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone, none of whom deserve to enter training camp with a secure starting job. Beyond these more-glaring needs, the Saints will likely draft another cornerback and a quarterback at some point.
Norris’ Mock Draft
Round 1 (27): TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State - Whether in the first round or in a trade down (no second-round pick), Gesicki just makes sense with the Saints. As Evan mentioned, they’ve been searching for a tight end and have yet to find one. Gesicki would be an outstanding vertical threat and red zone option. I wonder if Saints coaches see Jimmy Graham in him.
Round 3 (91): LB Darius Leonard, South Carolina State - I reported the Saints brought Leonard in for a visit. I know they signed Davis. I know they drafted Anzalone. I know they paid Klein. However, finding a consistent piece (outside of Davis, who is locked in) seems to be a priority based on the prospects the Saints brought in for a visit. Leonard generated so much pre-draft interest that he had to turn down visits due to time constraints.
Round 4 (127): DL Bilal Nichols, Delaware - Cameron Jordan can’t carry the pass rush forever. Enter Nichols, who is explosive and disruptive from the interior, even in a situational role.
Round 5 (147): EDGE Justin Lawler, SMU - The Saints brought in Lawler for a visit, as did the Rams and other teams. He might be one of the NFL’s favorite day three pass rushers, a position that is difficult to find in that area of the draft.
Round 5 (164): WR Cedrick Wilson, Boise State - A team visit. Wilson was used on underneath crossing routes and vertical routes at Boise State, a similar role to what Ted Ginn was asked to play at points during his career.
Round 6 (189): OL Gerhard de Beer, Arizona - An athletic offensive line prospect to develop.
Round 6 (201): DB Josh Kalu, Nebraska - I’m a big fan of Kalu’s. He’s a press corner with length and athleticism. As a safety he was out of position in 2017.
Round 7 (245): DL Dee Liner, Arkansas State - A big bodied nose tackle. As a seventh round pick he might wind up on the practice squad.