We have now learned that the New Orleans Saints will be awarded two compensatory third round selections in the 2022 NFL draft. They will be receiving the 98th overall pick for losing Trey Hendrickson to the Cincinnati Bengals as well as the 101st selection for Terry Fontenot’s departure to the Atlanta Falcons. That gives New Orleans five picks in the first four rounds, four of them inside the top 101.
Let’s take a look at what a four-round Saints mock draft would look like up to this point in what has a fairly quiet free agency period for the team, in terms of official moves. There are some assumptions to be made about how the rest of free agency plays out over the next couple of days, and I’m working through this thinking that the Saints will sign a quarterback, a wide receiver, and a safety before the draft. That’s going to impact our draft needs:
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I simply selected the best wide receiver available, who just happened to also be the best deep threat in the draft, in my opinion. Jameson Williams was there, so I took the opportunity and ran. Where medicine and doctors are at in this point, an ACL tear isn’t nearly as scary as it used to be. Especially not frightening for someone who is “ahead of schedule” as Williams was reported to be by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Outside of just running down the field, he has also shown the ability to run routes extremely well and has the moves to work himself open wherever the quarterback needs him to be. He would be the playmaker that people have been begging the Saints’ front office to draft for years.NFL Draft: What position will Saints draft first? - Powered By PickUp
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Now, the possibilities are endless for the Saints, as there are great options at every position of need. I could grab a young quarterback that has a ton of upside, take a freak athlete anywhere on the field, stock up at wideout, maybe even select an exciting young running back. Instead, I’ll do the most Saints thing possible and choose to draft one of the big uglies.
The selection in the second round was the defensive tackle out of Connecticut, Travis Jones. People forget that defensive lineman can be crazy athletes as well, and Jones is exactly that. He posted a 9.64 Relative Athletic Score at the NFL combine, running a 4.92-second 40 yard dash at 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds. He won’t be asked to run that far that fast during a game, but it goes to show how impressive an all-around athlete he is. Jones is also strong and brings in a solid set of moves to contribute early in New Orleans.
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I have had a feeling that offensive tackle isn’t the first spot on the line that the Saints will want to address in the off-season. A Ryan Ramczyk and James Hurst duo wouldn’t be abysmal next season. I saw an opportunity to add a big and mean player on the interior here, so I did that.
Ed Ingram was my selection. Ingram is coming off of a great Senior Bowl, and college career with experience at both guard spots and even solid appearances as a tackle. The talent and just natural ability is there for Ingram, he just needs to find consistency. At points in college, he was considered a lock for the first round. Could end up as a huge steal for someone around this spot.
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The Saints need to add another running back, and they could do a lot worse than James Cook. Cook shared a backfield with Zamir White this season at Georgia, and while both seem like NFL players, Cook was always the standout for me.
Cook is known for his receiving ability, and for very good reason, but his skill as a runner should not be understated. He is a smart and efficient runner behind the offensive line, waiting to make the best cut available to him, and once he does that he is usually running past whatever linebacker is in his way.
Sep 7, 2019; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo (9) runs with the ball as Syracuse Orange defensive back Eric Coley (34) tackles during the first quarter at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
If the Saints go an entire off-season without bringing in a new tight end, the fandom may have a collective meltdown. I’ll take care of that here and select one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire draft in Chigoziem Okonkwo out of Maryland. Okonkwo was the fastest tight end at the combine, and would slide into that receiving role at the position that the Saints have made room in the playbook for.
Okonkwo was underutilized in college, to the surprise of no one, but would immediately have a role in the Saints offense, which is the most important motif of this draft.