Merry 2020 NFL Draft! Due to these trying times, this may be the most anticipated NFL Draft in recent memory. It is also a pivotal draft for the New Orleans Saints. I attempted to break down some possible picks that the Saints could make throughout the draft.
Round 1, Pick 24: Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU
Patrick Queen has been a pretty consensus pick for New Orleans at this spot if Queen is, in fact, still on the board. Dianna Russini reported late last night that the Saints are not targeting a quarterback this early in the draft. Theoretically, this eliminates the possibility of them selecting Utah State QB Jordan Love at this spot. Everything seems to be lining up for New Orleans to address their biggest need, linebacker, at this spot with most likely Queen or Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray. Wide receiver is also being discussed as a possibility at this spot, but the board may sort all of this out by the time their pick comes around.
Queen is an exceptional athlete and shows legit coverage ability. At LSU, he seemed to be a captain of the defense and very aware before the snap. These traits are what separate him from much of the rest of this linebacker class. He would be the perfect complement to Demario Davis, one of the best run-stopping linebackers in the league. The league is only getting faster, so defenses must continue to adapt. Not to mention, Rob Gronkowski just joined the division so having a trio of Malcolm Jenkins, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and Patrick Queen will possibly be more valuable than ever before.
Round 3, Pick 88: Troy Pride Jr., Cornerback, Notre Dame
The Saints retained Janoris Jenkins, Patrick Robinson, and P.J. Williams in the offseason while letting Eli Apple walk. Although Apple’s game was criticized often, especially in the second half of his 2019 campaign with the Saints, his departure does thin out the corner position. New Orleans also liked how P.J. Williams performed at times in 2019 at safety, so he may get more reps there in 2020.
In this mock, New Orleans snags a sticky man coverage corner who loves to battle here late in the third round. Troy was an outside corner for the Irish but can certainly move inside if needed for the Saints alongside Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore. The Saints are one of the most man coverage/press-heavy teams in the NFL, and Pride Jr. has a lot of experience in that department. The fit makes a lot of sense for both sides.
Round 4, Pick 130: Tyler Johnson, Wide Receiver, Minnesota
This would be a sneaky-good grab for the Saints at this spot in the draft. Tyler Johnson is one of the most polished route runners in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was highly regarded as a top 7 receiver in the class before this season. Johnson didn’t have the best season in terms of his draft outlook, but the traits remain there.
He will most likely succeed in a slot role with New Orleans that allows him to use his length to win contested catch opportunities. In this role, he would also get a more crisp release of the line of scrimmage as well. He has good burst at the start of routes and fairly fluid hips for a bigger built pass catcher. These aspects of his game allow him to make some big plays, which New Orleans could certainly use to bolster an already-dangerous passing attack.
Round 5, Pick 169: Kevin Dotson, Interior Offensive Lineman, Louisiana
New Orleans keeps a powerful interior lineman in his college state. Dotson projects as a depth piece on the offensive line for the Saints, but Larry Warford and Andrus Peat have seen injuries plague them at times. This pick provides the team with another solid backup in case the unfortunate does happen to any of the starters. The Louisiana product would join Will Clapp and Nick Easton as the notable interior guys on the depth chart.
Round 6, Pick 203: Jacob Breeland, Tight End, Oregon
The Saints round out their 2020 NFL Draft with presumably another depth piece for the offense. Jacob Breeland out of Oregon provides some solid upside as a balanced TE3 on the depth chart for New Orleans. Jared Cook and Josh Hill have their roles cemented, but its cloudy past those two. Breeland got a good amount of experience with Ducks as a blocker and a pass-catcher. This something that Sean Payton has been known to prefer in his tight ends. Breeland had his 2019 season slashed in half due to injury. Alas, in only six games, he accumulated 405 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 26 receptions.
No one knows for sure how the Saints will attack their needs during this year’s draft because as per usual, they are keeping things fairly close to the vest. This mock draft lays out some possibilities to fill holes on a very talented roster. The time to win it all again is now for New Orleans, so it’s time to sit back and watch how they use the draft to help them get to the finish line.
As Michael Thomas loves to quote from the late rapper, Nipsey Hussle, “The Marathon Continues”.
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