The New Orleans Saints are like a sitcom that has run too long. Everyone knows the show should have been off the air by now but the rating is still decent. After the retirement of Drew Brees and the “retirement” of Sean Payton, they have continued to kick the can down the road. Constant restructuring of contracts, selling off future draft capital, and silly disbelief that they were just 1-2 players away are just many ways GM Mickey Loomis has fought off the reality of the situation.
Last year, prior to the 2022 NFL Draft, they traded their 2023 1st-round pick to get two in the 2022 draft. That second pick turned into OT Trevor Penning. The pick they traded ended up being a top-ten selection for the Super Bowl runner-up Eagles. The Saints were able to recoup a first-rounder this year when Payton left the FOX studios to be the head man of the Broncos.
So, what will Mickey Loomis do this year? Let’s take a stab at it.
New Orleans Saints Mock Draft (2023)
1-29: Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh
The Saints struck early in free agency by signing former Chiefs DT Khalen Saunders and former Jets DT Nathan Shepherd. However, neither of those offers the interior pass rush ability that Calijah Kancey does. Kancey has 16.5 career sacks with 34.5 tackles-for-loss. He has a quick first step that easily beats guards. Kancey can be an immediate 3rd-down nightmare for New Orleans.
2-40: Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech
Cam Jordan is still playing at a high level entering his 13th NFL season. it is finding someone opposite to him that has been the challenge. They traded a first-round pick to select Marcus Davenport. He is now in Minnesota. They drafted Payton Turner two years ago in round one. So far, that hasn’t worked out. I am not giving up hope just yet on my 9th overall player in the 2021 class.
Keion White was a late bloomer after starting his career at Old Dominion as a tight end. However, he exploded in 2022. He led the Yellow Jackets with 7.5 sacks this fall and 14 TFLs. The North Carolina game was one of the most fun game tapes I saw this year for any prospect.
3-71: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
The Saints struck gold with Chris Olave in the first round last year. But we need to find him a running mate. They keep bringing back Michael Thomas hoping for the best but getting nothing but disappointment. Cedric Tillman is a better prospect to me than his much more hyped teammate, Jalin Hyatt. Tillman is a big and physical wideout that new QB Derek Carr will love. He has a wide catch radius and succeeds on a majority of “50/50” balls. Tillman can separate from DBs. I think he will the perfect compliment for a precision route runner like Olave.
4-115: Zach Evans, RB, Mississippi
New Orleans signed RB Jamaal Williams away from Detroit. That will help but unfortunately, Alvin Kamara is facing a lengthy suspension for violating the player conduct policy. With no one else worthy on the roster, they must add another back. Evans was electric at TCU before transferring to Ole Miss. However, he got overshadowed by true freshman Quinshon Judkins. With a deep RB class, Evans should be available to NOLA here in the 4th.
5-146: Emil Ekiyor Jr, IOL, Alabama
There is always room on a roster for a player who can back up multiple offensive line positions. Ekiyor can back up both guard spots and center. His length is prohibitive from even being able to back up the outside either.
5-165: Darrell Luter Jr, CB, South Alabama
Luter would have been drafted higher in a year where the cornerback depth wasn’t so deep. He was one of the best man cover corners in CFB in the last two years. Luter also ran a 4.4 forty at the combine which eliminated questions about his long speed. He can help out immediately on special teams and work his way into a potential starter spot down the line for the Saints.
7-227: Keondre Coburn, DL, Texas
New Orleans had no contracted defensive tackles before signing Saunders and Shepherd. They will need to continue to build depth at the position. Adding Coburn this late is a solid move.
7-257: Mohamoud Diabate, LB, Utah
The Saints could add some depth to their linebacker room and help on special teams. Diabate was a productive player at Florida before transferring to Utah. He is well worth taking a flier on this late.
The odds of Mickey Loomis standing pat on any of these picks is extremely low. He is always seemingly selling a future pick to move up in a round. I would expect no less during the 2023 NFL Draft as well.
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