The simulator is actually quite advanced, giving the user a few different ‘big boards’ to select from as well as taking into account team needs when simulating draft picks. For example, in one simulated Mock Draft North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron fell all the way to 27th overall due to teams reaching to fill holes (an awesome – albeit nearly impossible – proposition).
After completing a couple rounds just to get the feel of the system, I put on my GM hat and went to work on a serious seven round mock, and here’s what I came up with:
Round 1 – Pick 27: CB Kyle Fuller / Virginia Tech
If you’ve spent any time at all on our site, you know we all have a little bit of a man-crush on Fuller. At number 27 he not only fits perfectly in the Saints system but he also is great value for the pick. Barring any sort of trade or a falling star (i.e. Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State or Odell Beckham Jr. from LSU), this guy will be wearing Black & Gold in 2014.
Round 2 – Pick 58: WR Jarvis Landry / LSU
It’s no secret that the Saints could use a few more weapons on offense, and where better to look for help than down the road. Landry may have played second fiddle to ODB at LSU, but he has the skills to hold his own in New Orleans. Landry’s one of the most intelligent receivers in the draft, and he had some of the best hands in college football. According to our Neer Shah, Landry would fit perfect as the ‘Z’ receiver in the Saints’ offense and replace veteran Lance Moore.
Round 3 – Pick 91: OT Antonio Richardson / Tennessee
Affectionately referred to as ‘Tiny’, Richardson is an absolute beast. Standing at 6-foot-6 and nearly 330 lbs he has the bulk and arm-length of a prototypical left tackle. He’s strong, relatively athletic for his size, and very difficult to bull rush for any defensive end. So why is he sliding into the third round? It’s all related to his effort. He’s one of those guys that seemingly lacked motivation at times, giving up too much ground in pass blocking and being late to the second level on running plays. The Saints have proven they can take mid-round offensive line talent and turn them into Pro Bowlers, and at the back-end of the third round Richardson’s upside gives him great value.
Round 4 – Pick 126: RB Dri Archer / Kent State
4.26 – that’s all you need to know. Archer nearly broke Chris Johnson’s combine record in the 40-yard-dash, and one hand-held watch even had him breaking the 4.2 mark (!!) (4.16). Obviously the comparisons to ex-Saints running back Darren Sproles are easy to make, but it’s not a far stretch to think Archer may be MORE ATHLETIC than Sproles. However, with that athleticism comes a lot to be desired in strength and size. He’s a very light 173 lbs. and plays like it – often being knocked off routes and going down easily at first contact. But in the new NFL speed kills, and Archer is this year’s speed-king. In a limited role he could be a game-changer for the Saints, and once again in the bottom-half of the fourth round he has great value.
Round 5 – Pick 167: C Bryan Stork / Florida State
Stork made a visit to the Bayou and has all the skills to be the heir-apparent at center for the Saints. He earned the 2013 Rimington award (the nation’s best college center) in part for his raw leadership. He’s wicked smart (cue the Boston accent) and uses his leverage better than any other center in the draft. He’s also one of those high-motor guys and you’ll never catch him taking a play off. All that being said, he’s not going to be the strongest guy in any locker room nor is he going to wow you with athletic ability. Stork is gritty, tough, and possesses all the intangibles you’d want at the center position. He’s also versatile enough to back up all three guard positions, an added bonus. Again, the Saints have a track record of drafting lineman in the later rounds, and if they bring in Stork and allow him to sit behind Tim Lelito until he gets his NFL-legs this could be another diamond-in-the-rough.
Round 5 – Pick 169: WR Jalen Saunders / Oklahoma
Wide receiver Kenny Stills may be in the management’s ear on this one, knowing Saunders skill-set from his time at Oklahoma. Saunders is another quick Sooner receiver and excels at route running, often using his agility and quickness to separate from man coverage. He’s quicker than fast, which means he’s not a huge threat on the deep ball but can wreak havoc in the slot. That’s perfect, because he really doesn’t have the size to play outside at 5-foot-9 and 165 lbs. What’s more, he’s GREAT in space – returning three punt returns for touchdowns in 25 attempts. The more weapons for Drew Brees and Sean Payton the better, and think about this receiving corps – Colston, Stills, Meachem Landry, Saunders. Throw in Archer and Jimmy Graham from the tight end position and immediately you may have the best group of pass catchers in the game.
Round 6 – Pick 202: ILB Andrew Jackson / Western Kentucky
We round out the draft with depth at inside linebacker from a school most recently known for basketball success than football. That being said, Jackson is a freaking MONSTER. Standing at 6-foot-1 and nearly 260 lbs. he has the ideal bulk to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. The word most often used by scouts to describe Jackson is intense (!!). He’s competitive and feisty, and very rarely was overpowered against offensive lineman and fullbacks alike, and for a linebacker his size he displayed impressive lateral speed with a 2.24-second 20-yard shuffle. The size and thickness that he benefits from also is one of his greatest weaknesses – he’s thick in the hips and lacks the length to adequately shed blocks from NFL guards and tackles. His instincts are average and he doesn’t display great read-ability, and worst-of-all he’s often seen as immature. Despite starting for three years at WKU he still displays immature tendencies and scouts feel he still needs to learn what it means to be a professional football player. But what are you looking for in the seventh round? Talent and upside. The Saints have a strong enough core to handle any potential distraction Jackson brings, and if he develops he could easily develop into a formidable inside linebacker (i.e. Curtis Lofton).
If by some stroke of luck the Saints end up with this list of players it will certainly be looked at as one of the better overall drafts this year. Not only do they address the majority of their needs they add talent and each pick and don’t reach in any sense (in fact, luck would have it that talent ended up falling to almost every pick).
What do you think? Feel free to comment below with any criticism, and head over to fanspeak.com/ontheclock to try it out for yourself!