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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Ross Jackson

Saints land a first-round QB in final USA Today mock draft

The New Orleans Saints will be on the clock before we know it, so it’s a good time to check on the final mock drafts projecting what may happen on Thursday night. USA Today reporters came together for a mock draft of the upcoming first round of the 2022 NFL draft. In this mock, Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson led the way as the top selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Before the Saints went up on the clock at pick 16, here are where the top tackles and wide receivers fell:

  • 4. New York Jets: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
  • 6. Carolina Panthers: Evan Neal, OT, Carolina
  • 7. New York Giants: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
  • 11. Washington Commanders: Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
  • 13. Houston Texans: Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
  • 15. Philadelphia: Drake London

With all of the top four tackles off the board and only a pair of the top wide receivers left, the logical place to go at 16 would be wideout. That’s exactly what Carlos Monarrez did, selecting Jameson Williams out of Alabama:

“He’s big and speedy and one of the top playmakers in a deep receiving class who arrives from Tuscaloosa with plenty of production on his resume. “

Williams would be a fantastic selection by the Saints, even if he can’t get out on the field at the top of 2022 as he continues to recover from his late-season ACL injury. As recently reported by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, NFL teams expect Williams to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, keeping him out of action through at least the first six weeks of the season.

That may sound like a big loss to bear, but getting Williams at even 90% of what he was at Alabama for a stretch run into the playoffs would be huge for an offense looking for a boost. Couple this with the signing of free agent wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and the Saints passing game is in business for 2022.

With the next two selections, a pair of Georgia defenders, linebacker Nakobe Dean and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt, go to the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles respectively. Leaving the Saints with the option to go defense themselves or roll the dice on a potential signal caller, choosing Kenny Pickett out of Pittsburgh:

” Trying to replace Drew Brees with Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton is like trying to replace Secretariat with a donkey and an older donkey. Pickett gives the Saints a big arm and mobility, and the Saints give him time to grow.”

And trying to replace Drew Brees with Kenny Pickett is like trying to replace Secretariat with Lil’ Sebastian. The selection of a quarterback here has a ton of value, but with Liberty’s Malik Willis still on the board I’m not sure that going with the far less dynamic Pickett makes sense. With the Saints recent pursuit of quarterback Deshaun Watson, it’s clear they’re not afraid of shifting the offense to fit a mobile passer. Willis would have been an absolute steal at 19 and would allow the Saints to take their time transitioning to a young, athletic and game-changing quarterback with NFL arm talent.

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