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Charles Cross
NFL Draft

New Orleans Saints 7-Round Mock Draft: January Edition

  • Damian Parson
  • January 11, 2022
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The New Orleans Saints were a San Francisco 49ers loss away from securing a playoff berth. 2021 was not kind to the Saints, but they continued to battle to the very end. They lost their starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, to a torn ACL during a Week 8 victory over the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Star wide receiver Michael Thomas never graced the field after battling a lower-body injury. Sean Payton trotted out Taysom Hill, Ian Book, and Trevor Siemian at quarterback to close the season. Yet, despite all that, New Orleans was as close as it gets to making the playoffs. When healthy, this remains to be one of the best rosters and teams in football. I would be surprised if Winston does not return with a chance to start the 2022 season. Regardless of who lines up under center, the Saints have needs to fill to increase their chances of being a playoff contender again. With that being said, let’s explore how the Saints can retool this roster through the 2022 NFL Draft.

ROUND 1 (NO. 18 OVERALL): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Long-time starting left tackle Terron Armstead will be a free agent this spring. The Saints are projected to have a league-worst -$60 million in cap space. Potentially losing Armstead to the free-agent market creates a void at the left tackle position. Charles Cross is one of the best pass protectors in this class. His quickness off the ball allows him to get into his pass sets early. He is a good athlete that can get out in space in the screen game and as a puller in the run game. Cross would provide a potential long-term starter for Payton’s offense.

ROUND 2 (NO. 49 OVERALL): John Metchie III, WR, Alabama

The Saints’ leading receiver is Marquez Calloway with less than 700 yards receiving. Will Thomas return healthy and ready to commit to the Saints? That remains to be seen. Adding an explosive and nuanced receiver only helps this offense.  John Metchie III is recovering from a torn ACL from the SEC Championship Game. When healthy, he is explosive at the release point and runs well-paced routes. He plays with the cornerback's mind by altering his pacing during his stems. He offers a potential WR2 to complement Thomas if he returns.

ROUND 3 (NO. 98 OVERALL): Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois

Starting safety Marcus Williams is another potential free agent preparing to hit the open market, barring a franchise tag. It is not easy finding a reliable, athletic, and versatile safety. A good start to replacing Williams is by drafting Kerby Joseph.  Joseph boasts a nice frame with great range. Joseph is a true single-high safety prospect that can flip his hips and cover ground. The Saints have a No. 1 corner that travels with top receivers in Marshon Lattimore. A safety with Joseph’s range can help bracket the offense's secondary receivers. The Saints must continue to improve this secondary. 

ROUND 3 (NO. 99 OVERALL): Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati

Double-dipping at wide receiver? Yes, why not? Again, Thomas was not happy with the organization at one point and battled injuries. I believe in preparing for the worst. Even if he returns, adding another big body X-receiver with dynamic passing-catching ability is never a bad idea. Pierce has the dynamism and speed to attack defenses vertically. Also, he plays above the rim and attacks the football at its highest point. Winston’s ability to push the ball downfield fits Peirce’s skill set. A potential receiver room with Thomas, Calloway, Metchie III, and Pierce is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.

ROUND 4 (NO. 117 OVERALL): Haskell Garrett, IDL, Ohio State

The interior defensive line can benefit from adding another strong presence. Shy Tuttle and David Onyemata are good starters, but the depth behind them is lacking. Haskell Garrett is a strong interior defensive lineman that can play one gap in the run game. He can also create pressure with penetration from the middle of the front. Garrett can be a part of the rotation instead of playing every down early on. His power and strength will fit the play style of this defense.

ROUND 5 (NO. 159 OVERALL): Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota

This selection is more of a luxury than a need. Their two starting rushers, Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, are one of the better pass-rushing duos in the league. Boye Mafe is an athletic and easy-moving edge rusher. He is a developmental prospect, but he would learn from two of the best in the NFL. Mafe allows the Saints to kick Jordan inside and create the best pass-rushing scenario possible. 

ROUND 7 (NO. 233 OVERALL): Stewart Reese, IOL, Florida

Adding more versatile offensive linemen to develop is always a good idea. Also, veteran guard James Carpenter will be a free agent this spring. With the current state of this team’s potential cap space, Carpenter could be a cap casualty. Stewart Reese is a former RT turned RG at Mississippi State. He offers versatility as a developmental guard and swing tackle. Reese plays with core strength and quickness. He adds power and physicality to duo block and climb to the second level. He helps depth and that is necessary.

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Damian Parson