There’s no consensus on what the New Orleans Saints will do with their first-round pick as the 2021 NFL draft quickly approaches. Unprecedented salary cap constraints precluded them from retaining key talent; those vacant roster spots are now glaring positions of need. And there are so many holes that everyone has a different take on where to start first.
New Orleans may have eyes on an early target, but it’s about finding the best player available for the Saints — not best player on the board or at a position of need. It’s a tough balancing act, but New Orleans is particularly adept at striking it. The main factors are prototype guidelines per position with exceptions for special traits, football intelligence, and character.
A look back at the team’s 2020 draft might help forecast this year’s strategy. The loss of minicamps and preseason games saw New Orleans hone in on mentally sharp rookies, valuing quality over quantity; they can’t fully ignore positional need, but shouldn’t . Particularly with sparse film, if any, from the 2020 season; just as last year, they are hindered by the loss of the scouting combine to assess certain measurables.
Weighing this all together, the positional needs rank as follows: cornerback, linebacker, and wide receiver. How players rank within those positions will be the deciding factor at No. 28 (unless the Saints choose to trade up, of course). Let’s survey players in the Saints first-round cloud and rank prospects accordingly. To get an idea of who may be available, I ran 20 mock draft simulators on several sites, tallying each prospect’s availability below. And then I filtered our options down even further.
- Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech (9)
- Greg Newsome, Northwestern (6)
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame (3)
- Zaven Collins, Tulsa (9)
- Jabril Cox, LSU (20)
- Terrace Marshall Jr., Purdue (17)
- Rondale Moore, Purdue (17)
- Elijah Moore, Mississippi (17)
- Kadarius Toney, Florida (16)
- S Trevon Moehrig, TCU (8)
- RB Travis Ettienne, Clemson (14)
- OT Teven Jenkins (13)