The first week of free agency signings has come and gone, so it’s time for an updated 2023 NFL mock draft from our own Jeff Risdon over at Draft Wire, who has the New Orleans Saints acting quickly to improve their receiving corps as well as their depth on the other side of the ball.
But are these the best picks for the Saints given the prospects available at each draft slot? We took a stab at what might be best for New Orleans based off the other picks in Risdon’s projection. Here’s what we would do differently — and what we would keep the same:
Draft Wire’s pick: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
Our pick: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
No complaints here. The Saints can’t expect Michael Thomas to be healthy for 17 games after the way the last three years have gone for him, and the chemistry in having a couple of young Buckeyes receivers who have looked up to him would be fantastic. Having Thomas, Smith-Njigba, Chris Olave, and Rashid Shaheed on top of the depth chart is a great proposition. Smith-Njigba caught 9 of his 10 contested catches in 2021 while converting 67 first downs (on 95 receptions), also forcing 19 missed tackles after the catch. How’s that for a strong supporting cast for Derek Carr?
Draft Wire’s pick: LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas
Our pick: DL Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
Sanders is a nice prospect, and the Saints could use a succession plan for Demario Davis at linebacker. He was the best available prospect in this scenario. But he wouldn’t be playing much right away for the Saints behind Davis and Pete Werner, which leads us to Adebawore. He mainly played on the edge at Northwestern but has been going through drills as an interior lineman, and he could be very dynamic in that role at defensive tackle. Picture him rotating in and out of the lineup with Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders, playing about 30 snaps a game to start, while preparing for a heavier workload later in the year.
Draft Wire’s pick: LB Daiyan Henley, Washington State
Our pick: Trade up for TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
Look, depth is important, and Henley is a solid prospect, but the Saints don’t need the draft two linebackers. Especially not with their top picks. So we’ll go in another direction and address the biggest remaining need at tight end, trading up with either the Chicago Bears (at No. 61) or the Philadelphia Eagles (at No. 62) to get in front of the Kansas City Chiefs, who picked Musgrave at No. 63. That move up from No. 70 probably costs picks in rounds five and seven, but Musgrave might be worth it. He’s the best big-play threat at tight end in the 2023 draft and he can block, too. He would be a clear upgrade over Adam Trautman behind Juwan Johnson. But doesn’t this feel like an area the Saints will address in free agency?