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USA Today Sports Media Group
John Sigler

2024 NFL mock draft roundup: Saints linked to pass rushers, OL, WR

Our latest 2024 NFL mock draft roundup found that the experts are predicting the New Orleans Saints will target pass rushers, offensive linemen, and wide receivers with their first pick in the upcoming selection event. And all of those positions make sense for a Saints team that has struggled to win at the line of scrimmage and consistently generate big plays.

Here’s a quick look at the 2024 draft prospects being linked to the Saints:

Draft Wire

AUBURN, ALABAMA – SEPTEMBER 17: Defensive end Chop Robinson #44 of the Penn State Nittany Lions causes a fumble after hitting the arm of quarterback T.J. Finley #1 of the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

Draft Wire’s Curt Popejoy has a two-round projection in which the Saints invested heavily in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

Round 1, Pick 19: EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State

We’d like to see more consistency from Chop Robinson but there’s no doubt when he’s on he is an elite pass rusher.

Robinson is a little undersized for the Saints’ standards, but they can’t afford to be so picky when they’re tied for the second-fewest sacks in the NFL (18 in 11 games).

Round 2, Pick 48 (via Denver): LT Jordan Morgan, Arizona

A new left tackle makes sense given Trevor Penning’s struggles to hold down that position, but that would be tough to swallow given everything the Saints have invested in Penning.

Sports Illustrated

Oct 22, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; Washington Huskies offensive lineman Troy Fautanu (55) prepares to block California Golden Bears linebacker Braxten Croteau (52) during the third quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

SI’s Luke Easterling also published a mock draft with multiple rounds, though the Saints don’t own a third-round pick this year after sending it to Denver to facilitate the Sean Payton trade. And he also has New Orelans adding an offensive lineman.

Round 1, Pick 19: OL Troy Fautanu, Washington

If the Saints are gonna get their money’s worth for Derek Carr (and keep him healthy), the offensive line has to get some big upgrades this offseason. Fautanu is a powerful blocker with impressive quickness and athleticism who has lined up at left tackle for the Huskies, but projects better as a dominant guard in the NFL.

Round 2, Pick 47 (via Denver): WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

The 6-foot-4, 196-pound junior receiver downfield and he could help Derek Carr do a better job airing out the football to make plays vertically. Mitchell led the Longhorns with 9 touchdown catches this season after transferring from Georgia.

CBS Sports

Sep 16, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end JT Tuimoloau (44) high fives defensive tackle Tyleik Williams (91) during the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won 63-10. Credit: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards likes the Saints to add more help off the edge. They’ve drafted a lot of early-round pass rushers in recent years, and the 6-foot-4, 270-pound J.T. Tuimoloau would continue the Ohio State pipeline running to New Orleans.

Round 1, Pick 19: DE J.T. Tuimoloau, Ohio State

J.T. Tuimoloau is a heavy-handed pass rusher who gives New Orleans desired depth in that room with Carl Granderson and Cam Jordan.

Yahoo! Sports

Sep 24, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau (44) tackles Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (1) during the first half of the NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY Sports

Yahoo! Sports’ Nate Tice is in agreement: Tuimoloau should be a Saint. Tuimoloau only had 4 sacks this season (with 11 in his career), but his pass-rush win rate (14% at Pro Football Focus) is impressive.

Round 1, Pick 19: DE J.T. Tuimoloau, Ohio State

A pretty clean player and team fit here! The Trevor Penning experience is not going well in New Orleans, so I am unsure if they will double down with another offensive tackle in the first round. Instead, I’m going with the strong-handed Tuimoloau to slot right in on the Saints’ defensive line.

Tuimoloau brings it on every snap and would bring even more youth to this thumping defensive line that extended Carl Granderson on a breakout year and added Bryan Bresee in the first round of the 2023 draft. Tuimoloau would also give Cameron Jordan a possible successor to his style on the Saints’ front.

The 33rd Team

Sep 9, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu (15) battles against San Diego State Aztecs tight end Mark Redman (81) during the first half at Snapdragon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The 33rd Team’s Connor Livesay has the Saints going with a high-risk, high-reward pick. Laitau Latu is the best pure pass rusher in the 2024 draft class but there are injury concerns stemming from a neck injury that forced him into medical retirement at Washington; he transferred to UCLA, who would let him play, and he’s developed into a star.

Round 1, Pick 12: EDGE Laiatu Latu, UCLA

The New Orleans Saints‘ dominant defense has taken a step back in 2023, but it still has plenty of pieces to build on in 2024. Adding the talent of Laiatu Latu would instantly upgrade a pass rush that has struggled in 2023.

NBC Sports Chicago

Oct 28, 2023; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) warms up during the first half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

NBC Chicago’s Glynn Morgan has an unconventional pick at wide receiver. The Saints could use a replacement for Michael Thomas if this is his last year with the team and Florida State’s Keon Coleman would be an ideal fit.

Round 1, Pick 19: WR Keon Coleman, Florida State

Coleman’s ability to create separation and leverage his wide catching radius against defenders projects favorably at the next level. Currently, Coleman is catching passes at a rate of 13.7 yards per reception while having caught 11 touchdown passes in just 10 games.

FOX Sports

Oct 8, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Oregon State Beavers offensive lineman Taliese Fuaga (75) blocks Stanford Cardinal linebacker Levani Damuni (3) during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

FOX Sports’ Jason McIntyre is incorrect about multiple Saints starting offensive linemen being free agents (Andrus Peat is the only one), but he’s right to look for help up front. Oregon State right tackle Taliese Fuaga is an impressive player but he’d have to move to the left side in New Orleans, possibly converting to guard instead of tackle.

Round 1, Pick 19: RT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

Two starting offensive linemen are free agents and one would assume a defensive coach pushes to improve the running game. Fuaga, who is soaring up draft boards with an awesome season, could be the guy here.

Pro Football Network

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) reacts to a touchdown during the game against Texas Tech at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Pro Football Network’s Ian Valentino assembled a monster of a seven-round mock draft, but we’ll focus on his picks in the first two rounds.

Round 1, Pick 19: WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

How 6’4″, 195-pound Adonai Mitchell runs routes is astounding to watch. His flexibility and acceleration for his height are truly rare. New Orleans could use a quarterback upgrade more, but with Derek Carr’s contract structure, adding another top-tier receiver makes more immediate sense.

Round 2, Pick 47 (via Denver): S Kamren Kinchens, Miami

As soon as Kamren Kinchens stepped onto the field for the Hurricanes, he became a leader on their defense, even as a freshman. He started in five games and played over 500 defensive snaps in his first year. Kinchens became an All-American in his second year and led the team with six interceptions.

NFL Mocks

Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman JC Latham (65) blocks against the Miami Hurricanes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Mocks’ Beau Adams has the Saints going for better protection, which makes sense, but he’s also asking a right tackle to move to the left side. The good news is that JC Lathem played left tackle in high school before winning the starting job on the right side at Alabama, where he’s held it down for two years.

Round 1, Pick 19: OL JC Latham, Alabama

They’ve given up on Penning and moved Peat from guard to LT. It’s not working. Carr is smart enough to get the ball out before trouble but has no chance without protection on his blindside. JC Latham is a towering prospect at 6’7 360 and should be pro-ready out of Bama. The Saints desperately need to make this move as they hope fixing up their line will propel their offense to the next level.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 14: Keon Coleman #4 of the Florida State Seminoles catches a pass against Jason Simmons jr. #6 of the Syracuse Orange during the first half of a game at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 14, 2023 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler is another analyst signaling wide receiver as a position of need for the Saints, and he likes Coleman as a fit in New Orleans’ offense.

Round 1, Pick 12: WR Keon Coleman, Florida State

The Saints love to draft flashy new toys, and Coleman comes batteries included and fully assembled. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he is a large target, but there is nothing lumbering about the way he moves. He is at his best winning at the catch point and can create explosive plays — New Orleans currently ranks 24th in the NFL in plays of 20-plus yards.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 05: New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis looks on during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 05, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Many draft experts are predicting the Saints will upgrade their pass rush in next year’s first round, or else improve protection along the offensive line, with a few others calling for more high-end talent in the receiving corps. The latest round of first round prospects for the Saints:

  • DE J.T. Tuimoloau, Ohio State: 2
  • WR Keon Coleman, Florida State: 2
  • EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State: 1
  • EDGE Laiatu Latu, UCLA: 1
  • OL JC Latham, Alabama: 1
  • OL Troy Fautanu, Washington: 1
  • OL Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State: 1
  • WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas
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