New Orleans Saints: 2014 NFL Draft

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints didn't make much of a splash on the final day of the draft Saturday. No big-name players. No quarterbacks. Probably no one that will come in and compete for a starting job right away.

But by my count, the Saints did wind up addressing five of their top six needs in this year’s draft class. Not bad.

Here’s how I had them ranked heading into the draft:

1. Receiver: Check. The Saints traded up to snag dynamic Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks in Round 1. I obviously loved the pick, based on my previous recaps.

2. Cornerback: Check. They drafted a big, long-armed corner in Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste in Round 2.

3. Center/guard: Nope. That’s the one spot the Saints missed out on. Coach Sean Payton said it wasn’t a deep class for centers, and the grades just never matched up. The Saints are high on Tim Lelito's potential, though, and there’s still a strong chance they’ll bring in veteran Jonathan Goodwin for competition.

4. Outside linebacker: Check. They drafted Florida’s Ronald Powell in Round 5. He's not purely a pass-rush specialist, but that’s one of his skills. And Payton said they envision him as a strong-side outside linebacker to start with (Parys Haralson's current job). Powell is a tremendous athlete who was rated as the No. 1 high school player in America by ESPNU four years ago before battling some inconsistency and a torn ACL in 2012. His upside is intriguing.

5. Inside linebacker: Check. Cal’s Khairi Fortt in Round 4. Payton said the Saints envision him as a weakside inside linebacker (David Hawthorne’s current role). He’s another guy who is still more potential than production after missing the 2012 season because of knee surgery (not an ACL, and not expected to be a lingering issue). But he's another impressive athlete who can help on defense and special teams.

6. Offensive tackle: Check. Kansas State right tackle Tavon Rooks (Round 6) wasn’t high among scouting analysts heading into the draft. But the Saints liked what they saw from his athleticism and his potential to grow into his frame. He'll be battling backups such as Bryce Harris and Marcel Jones for a roster spot.

BONUS: I didn’t rank special teams coverage as an individual category. But the Saints got a nice boost in that area with all four of their defensive draft picks -- especially Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri in the fifth round. Sunseri is a strong-safety type who could also potentially see the field in a role similar to former Saints/Alabama safety Roman Harper as a blitzer and in run support.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

METAIRIE, La. -- A wrap-up of the New Orleans Saints' draft. Click here for a full list of Saints draftees.

Best move: Trading up for dynamic receiver Brandin Cooks with the 20th pick in Round 1. Normally, I preach fans shouldn't expect too much from any draft pick in year one, but Cooks sure looks like he could make a huge impact right away for a Saints offense that suddenly needed some more juice after parting ways with veterans Darren Sproles and Lance Moore.

[+] EnlargeBrandin Cooks
Matt Cohen/Icon SMIThe New Orleans Saints gained one of the more polished receivers in this draft class in Brandin Cooks, per ESPN's Scouts Inc. profile.
Cooks' combination of college production (128 catches for 1,730 yards last season at Oregon State) and dynamic speed (4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash) makes the 5-foot-10, 189-pounder another matchup nightmare for coach Sean Payton to play with. Cooks could also take over the Saints' punt-return role -- another area in which they need some help.

But Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said that's more of a bonus than the reason Cooks got drafted.

"Obviously, we were aware of his skill [as a returner]," Loomis said. "But he also had 120-some catches. We're pretty happy with him as a receiver."

Riskiest move: The same answer. The Saints had to trade away a third-round pick to move up from No. 27 to No. 20. Obviously, I think Cooks was worth that risk, but it’s really the only move the Saints made that could qualify as a gamble. Many NFL teams cherish those midround picks.

Loomis, however, has always shown a willingness to trade up when the Saints have a conviction on a player, which was clearly the case in this instance. And he said the Saints' success with undrafted free agents has made them more willing to trade picks over the years.

Loomis said that third-round choice was "not inexpensive," and it would have been "a hard pill to swallow" to give up more than that. That's why the Saints didn't move higher into the teens ahead of the New York Jets, for example.

Most surprising move: Not drafting a center or guard. It wasn't a huge shock -- I ranked receiver and cornerback as the Saints' top two needs, and that's where they went in Rounds 1 and 2 with Cooks and Stanley Jean-Baptiste. But I did expect New Orleans to add an interior lineman at some point in the draft. Payton explained the Saints considered a handful of centers but never came close to drafting one. He said it wasn't a deep draft at the position in general, and the grades never lined up when New Orleans was on the clock.

That leaves the center position as the Saints' biggest question mark right now, but they're high on second-year pro Tim Lelito. I still think there's a strong chance they'll sign free-agent veteran Jonathan Goodwin to compete for the job.

File it away: What a change for Florida linebacker Ronald Powell to come into this draft as an unheralded fifth-round pick (No. 169 overall). Four years ago, Powell was rated as the No. 1 high school player in the country, according to ESPNU, but he never quite lived up to that potential and missed the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL that required two surgeries.

Powell is still an enticing athlete -- and he insisted those setbacks will only serve as motivation.

"I think he is hungry. It's very important to him. You get that sense specifically with that player," Payton said. "For every one of these guys, it's important. But every once in a while, you talk with one of these players, and that just stands out."
METAIRIE, La. -- The Pacific Southeast?

The New Orleans Saints continued to reshape their secondary in the mold of the Seattle Seahawks on Friday night when they drafted super-sized cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste out of Nebraska in Round 2.

[+] Enlarge Stanley Jean-Baptiste
Bruce Thorson/USA TODAY SportsCornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste's size (6-foot-3) has led to comparisons to Seattle corner Richard Sherman.
As coach Sean Payton pointed out, the Saints actually began the radical transformation of their secondary last year, when they signed free-agent cornerback Keenan Lewis and drafted safety Kenny Vaccaro in Round 1 of the 2013 draft.

But whether or not they were directly inspired by the Super Bowl champs, the Saints are clearly following the same playbook.

And suddenly, they've built the most loaded secondary east of Seattle after adding safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Champ Bailey earlier this offseason.

"Look, [the Seahawks] got a fantastic secondary. And we've had a chance to see it firsthand," Payton said. "But I think it was really trying to fit what we're doing. And a year-and-a-half ago, starting before last year's draft, we made an effort to really put a high value on size."

Jean-Baptiste (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) generated a lot of pre-draft buzz because of physical comparisons to Seahawks star cornerback Richard Sherman.

Some analysts, including the NFL Network's Mike Mayock, thought Jean-Baptiste might sneak into Round 1 because of that potential. ESPN's Todd McShay rated Jean-Baptiste 40th overall and said he "has a chance to be a steal."

And it was a timely move during a week in which the NFC South has only continued to load up on physical pass-catchers in this year's draft (receiver Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to Tampa Bay and receiver Kelvin Benjamin to Carolina).

"When you start looking at our division and you start looking at the receivers that we line up against, that size and length I think is really necessary," Payton said of a division that also includes Atlanta's Julio Jones and Roddy White and Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson. "With the amount of bump-and-run coverage that we want to play, I think the longer corner helps in that regard. But I would also say the ball skills are important, because, offensively, when we play someone that doesn't have those ball skills, we [aren't afraid to target them].

"So you go into [the evaluation of Jean-Baptiste] with, 'What does he do well?' We think he can play press man [coverage], and his ball skills are something that we also put a value on."

Jean-Baptiste is still considered a bit of a developmental project even though he's 24 years old, so he won’t automatically leap ahead of fellow corners Bailey, Corey White and Patrick Robinson for playing time. But he might have the most long-term potential of the bunch.

Because of academics, Jean-Baptiste spent a year in prep school and a year at a community college before transferring to Nebraska, where he didn't play as a freshman. He began his sophomore season as a receiver before making the switch to cornerback.

By last season, he had really grown into the cornerback role, starting with an interception in each of his first four games.

"I was aware of it, everybody comparing me to Richard Sherman. I heard all of the rumors and all of the details. I was paying attention to everything they're saying," Jean-Baptiste said. "I think it had a big part to play in [my draft stock], but hopefully, the Saints picked me for the person I am and the skills that I bring."

Live draft blog: Saints, Rds. 2-3

May, 9, 2014
5/09/14
6:00
PM ET
Join ESPN.com Saints reporter Mike Triplett as he gives you all the latest news from team headquarters during the 2014 NFL draft.

 
Grantland’s Robert Mays spent some quality time with new New Orleans Saints receiver Brandin Cooks leading up to the draft for this terrific in-depth piece on what makes Cooks tick. It’s a must-read, period. Especially for Saints fans who will soon fall in love with a guy who has been lauded for both his dynamic playmaking ability and his special character.

Cooks
Cooks opened up about his ambition, his motivation and his difficult upbringing. Cooks’ father died of a heart attack when he was six, which affected he and his three older brothers in different ways. It helped drive Cooks to make the most out of his remarkable athletic gifts.

The piece, which includes interviews with family members and past coaches, also dives into that confident-but-not-cocky attitude that Saints coach Sean Payton mentioned often while describing what New Orleans liked so much about Cooks.

ESPN's New York Jets reporter Rich Cimini also had a good piece on Cooks leading into the draft when he seemed like a prime target for the Jets with the 18th pick.

Payton admitted Thursday night that the Saints thought Cooks might go to New York. But after he slipped past the Jets, the Saints figured they'd get the guy they wanted.
Projecting a team’s second-round pick is probably a futile effort. The further we get in the NFL draft, the more likely teams such as the New Orleans Saints are to target the highest-rated player on their board, regardless of position or immediate needs.

But I’ll go ahead and take a stab here and predict the Saints’ highest-rated player at pick No. 58 will also fill one of their most glaring needs -- USC center Marcus Martin.

Some analysts projected Martin as a possible first-round pick, but I could see him slipping since the draft board is still stacked with talent. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said he still has 18 players remaining that he felt could have potentially gone in Round 1.

Both Martin and Colorado State center Weston Richburg could be worthy of a second-round pick. The Saints won’t be desperate to fill that spot, since they’re high on second-year pro Tim Lelito’s potential and could still add veteran Jonathan Goodwin for competition. However, they’re likely to add some young depth at the center/guard spots somewhere in this draft.

Some other thoughts on possible Round 2 targets for the Saints, ranked in order of likelihood:

Cornerbacks: This ranks as the Saints’ other top need. They’d probably love to see big corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste continue to fall, though he could be one of the top players off the board tonight. Other Round 2 possibilities include Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner, Utah’s Keith McGill, Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir and Rice’s Phillip Gaines.

Pass-rushers: Another area where the Saints could find some good value with a lot of intriguing players still left on the board, including Missouri’s Kony Ealy, Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy and Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu.

Offensive linemen: Even if they don’t go for a true center, the Saints could use some young depth across the board here. And there are still several guys left who were projected as possible first-rounders, including UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, Nevada tackle/guard Joel Bitonio, Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and Virginia tackle Morgan Moses.

Tight ends: I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Saints grab a tight end this early -- and NO, I don’t think it would mean they’re worried about Jimmy Graham’s future. But backup tight end Benjamin Watson is getting older, and the Saints like to have three or four on the roster in their versatile offense. So guys such as Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro would be intriguing options if they fall.

Linebackers: The Saints could consider a couple linebackers who aren’t pass-rush specialists, like Wisconsin’s Chris Borland and Arizona State’s Carl Bradford. This is an area where they need to develop some young talent behind vets like Parys Haralson and David Hawthorne.

Receivers: The Saints certainly don’t need another one in Round 2 after trading up for receiver Brandin Cooks in Round 1. But, man, there’s still a ton of talented receivers on the board who will make for good value picks across the league tonight. From Marqise Lee to Cody Latimer to Jordan Matthews to Jarvis Landry to Bruce Ellington to Davante Adams to Allen Robinson to Donte Moncrief to Martavis Bryant to runner/receiver Dri Archer, the list goes on and on.

Defensive linemen: I don’t rank this as a top need for the Saints since they’re loaded with talented starters and young backups alike. However, several of the highest-rated players left on the board are interior defensive linemen -- Louis Nix III, Stephon Tuitt, Ra’Shede Hageman, Timmy Jernigan, Scott Crichton. So there’s value to be had.

Safeties: It’s not a top need for the Saints, and it’s not a position where the top talent seems to be falling after four safeties went off the board in Round 1. Never say never, though, since defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is creative enough to make room for talented players.

Running backs: They’ll finally start to go off the board tonight, but I can’t imagine the Saints will be in the mix. They’re already so deep at the position and since they added a change-of-pace weapon in Cooks that will help them fill the void left by Darren Sproles.

Quarterbacks: It will be one of the most interesting position groups to monitor tonight as QB-needy teams sort through the second tier of prospects. But it would be a shock to see the Saints use a pick this high on a quarterback, especially after they traded away their third-rounder.

For more on what’s available tonight, check out this content from ESPN’s draft analysts (which requires Insider access Insider):

Kiper’s Round 2 mock | Scouts Inc. Round 2 mock

Kiper’s best available | Todd McShay’s best available

Live draft blog: Saints, Rd. 1

May, 8, 2014
5/08/14
6:00
PM ET
Join ESPN.com Saints reporter Mike Triplett as he gives you all the latest news from team headquarters during the 2014 NFL draft.

 
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints' NFL draft strategy over the past seven years has definitely been quality over quantity.

In each of those drafts, they've sacrificed at least one pick to either move up for a player or acquire a veteran in free agency. Dating back to the start of general manager Mickey Loomis' tenure in 2002, the Saints have traded up four times in Round 1.

And once again, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints move up this year -- as I projected in our ESPN NFL Nation mock draft, where I had them trading up to snag receiver Brandin Cooks.

There are two reasons why the Saints haven't been hung up on stockpiling draft picks over the years, as Loomis explained during his pre-draft press conference Wednesday.

For one, it has always been about a specific player that the Saints felt was worth the cost.

For another, the Saints have confidence in their ability to add quality undrafted free agents -- an area where they've thrived in recent years.

"I wouldn't say that we don't need 'em," Loomis said of the picks that have been traded away. "It's just that we've had opportunities to trade later-round picks for players that can have more of an immediate and short-term impact, and we've done that.

"We know there's a cost to that, obviously, in terms of having a younger player that can come in and be a special teams guy for you for a few years. But I think part of our confidence in trading away some of those later picks is the success that we've had in the college free agent pool. So in a lot of ways, I look at those guys as our later-round picks.

"If we can continue to have success doing that, then it gives us a little more freedom to trade away a sixth- and seventh-round pick and either move up or trade for a player."

The Saints have already traded away one pick and acquired one pick in this year's draft. They sent their seventh-rounder to the San Francisco 49ers last summer for linebacker Parys Haralson. And they acquired a fifth-rounder from the Philadelphia Eagles in March for running back Darren Sproles.

It's always possible the Saints could move down in the draft, too. They've done that plenty of times, as well, during Loomis' tenure as general manager -- just never in the first round.

Loomis and the Saints are always on the lookout for deals that make the most sense based on how their draft board is shaping up. If there's one guy that stands out above the rest, they go and get him. If they've got a cluster of guys ranked similarly, they're more willing to move down.

Typically, those decisions won't happen until teams get on the clock, though.

Loomis said teams will always have pre-draft conversations about the possibility of moving up or down. But they need to remain flexible as the draft plays out.

"We have a pretty good idea of who are the first 12 or 15 guys that are going to come off the board. We have no idea what order, obviously, and there's always a surprise or two. But we have a pretty good idea of the first half, I would call it," Loomis said. "Then, who knows? That part is pretty difficult. We have to be prepared for any and all scenarios."
A position-by-position look at the New Orleans Saints' draft needs, ranked in order of importance from 1-12:

Current depth chart:

Keenan Lewis, signed through 2018
Champ Bailey, signed through 2015
Corey White, signed through 2015
Patrick Robinson, signed through 2014
Rod Sweeting, scheduled to become restricted free agent in 2016
Trevin Wade, scheduled to become RFA in 2015
Terrence Frederick, RFA in 2017
A.J. Davis, RFA in 2017
Derrius Brooks, RFA in 2017

Draft possibilities: The Saints actually have a good deal of depth at the cornerback spot. But they’re littered with question marks: How much does newly-signed veteran Bailey have left in the tank? Can former first-rounder Robinson bounce back after struggling in 2012 and missing all of 2013 with a knee injury? Can White continue to develop after showing some highs and lows as a part-time starter last year?

Even if the Saints are confident in those veteran players, there's still a strong chance they will draft a cornerback high this year -- possibly as early as Round 1 -- since they need to develop some young talent at the vital position.

New Orleans would probably have to trade up to get one of the top three cornerbacks in this year’s class (Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert and Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller). If the Saints stay put at No. 27, they might be able to land small-but-physical TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, whom I have projected to the Saints if they don’t trade up.

They could also consider Ohio State’s athletic Bradley Roby or Nebraska’s physical Stan Jean-Baptiste in Round 1. Or they could wait until Round 2 or later. Among the most intriguing prospects in that range is a small-school guy -- Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir.

Previous entries:

No. 12 Kicker/punter

No. 11 Quarterback

No. 10 Running back/fullback

No. 9 Safety

No. 8 Defensive line

No. 7 Tight end

No. 6 Offensive tackle

No. 5 Inside linebacker

No. 4 Outside linebacker

No. 3 Center/guard
A position-by-position look at the New Orleans Saints' draft needs, ranked in order of importance from 1-12:

Current depth chart:

Zach Strief, signed through 2018

Terron Armstead, signed through 2016

Bryce Harris, scheduled to become restricted free agent in 2015

Marcel Jones, scheduled to become restricted free agent in 2017

Ty Nsekhe, signed through 2015

Draft possibilities: We've now reached the point on this list where I wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints use their first-round pick on any of these top six positions.

The Saints don’t have an urgent need here since they're high on left tackle Armstead's potential and they just re-signed right tackle Strief to a five-year deal as a free agent. Plus, Harris and Jones give them backup options with potential. However, this position is important enough that the Saints won't ignore talent if they have their highest grade on a tackle prospect at any point.

Virginia's Morgan Moses and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio are two prospects expected to be drafted in the late-first or early-second rounds. I'd call them long shots to land in New Orleans -- but not stunners.

Previous entries:

No. 12 Kicker/punter

No. 11 Quarterback

No. 10 Running back

No. 9 Safety

No. 8 Defensive line

No. 7 Tight end
A position-by-position look at the New Orleans Saints' draft needs, ranked in order of importance from 1-12:

Current depth chart:

Jairus Byrd, signed through 2019

Kenny Vaccaro, signed through 2016/2017 (option year)

Rafael Bush, signed through 2015

Marcus Ball, signed through 2016

Draft possibilities: The Saints could certainly make room for a safety if they have a highly-rated player on their board at any point during the draft. But I don’t expect it to be a top priority, and I’d be very surprised if they went this route in Round 1 or 2.

Byrd, Vaccaro and Bush should be entrenched as New Orleans’ top three safeties for at least the next two years, so a rookie would have a hard time cracking the rotation. The Saints do use a lot of three-safety sets, however, so they could certainly add depth in the middle rounds -- especially if a player could be an asset in special teams coverage.

Previous entries:

No. 12 Kicker/punter

No. 11 Quarterback

No. 10 Running back/fullback
BATON ROUGE, La. – It sounds like a novel idea in today’s NFL. But if a team is actually willing to draft a quarterback and give him a full year to develop before thrusting him into the starting lineup, then LSU’s Zach Mettenberger might just be their guy.

Six months, at least.

Mettenberger certainly wouldn’t agree with this idea. He’s so adamant to prove that he’ll be NFL-ready as a rookie that he went out and performed a grueling and impressive pro day workout Wednesday just 13 weeks after having surgery to repair a torn ACL.

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger
AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman"You can win a world championship with Zach Mettenberger," LSU offensive coordinator and ex-NFL coach Cam Cameron said on Wednesday.
Mettenberger insisted he’ll be 100 percent by next month’s rookie minicamps and ready to compete for a job by training camp.

Maybe he’s right. It’s hard to doubt him after the grit he showed on Wednesday, throwing roughly 125 passes in a fast-paced workout that many NFL talent evaluators said would have been impressive even without the injury.

But even if Mettenberger and his supporters – including LSU offensive coordinator and longtime former NFL coach Cam Cameron – are being overly optimistic, then Mettenberger could still be worth a second- or third-round pick for a team that believes he has the potential to be a starter in 2015 and beyond.

ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski certainly feels that way. He tabbed the strong-armed, 6-foot-5, 224-pounder as the second-best QB prospect in this year’s entire class, behind only Central Florida’s Blake Bortles. Jaworski is one of many who has compared Mettenberger to the Baltimore Ravens’ Joe Flacco – including Cameron, who has coached both of them.

“I think his skill set translates extremely well to that league,” Cameron said. “Some guys want ‘em taller or [some want] more athletic. But the bottom line is a guy’s gotta be tough, football-smart, distribute the ball to everyone on the team under pressure, in tight windows. Zach can do that.

“You can win a world championship with Zach Mettenberger. That I know. And that becomes the final evaluation. You don’t draft a guy unless you think this guy can ultimately lead our organization to the Super Bowl. Not just win games. And he is on par with guys that I’ve known since his age that have won Super Bowls.”

LSU coach Les Miles echoed that confidence, describing Mettenberger as “a guy that can really play in a very high level in the NFL.”

Still, there are some question marks about Mettenberger that have nothing to do with his surgically-repaired left knee.

He only had one great year in a turbulent college career, which required a lot of maturing both on and off the field.

Mettenberger started out at Georgia, but was dismissed from the team after an arrest for two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery. After a year in junior college, he transferred to LSU. But he didn’t really shine as a backup his sophomore year or as a starter his junior year. He was sometimes criticized as too laid back, as both a leader and a decision-maker.

Last year, however, Mettenberger showed rapid development in Cameron’s first year on the job. He thrived in a pro-style offense (and throwing to pro-caliber receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry). He threw for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions before suffering the injury in LSU’s regular-season finale.

“When he showed up here and really did not play a lot, he was kind of in the background. Not necessarily did we feel his presence,” Miles admitted. “When we turned to him and he became that player, he really stepped into a role of leadership.

“Really, we felt like he needed to take on more of a position of team leader than necessarily quarterback. He did that. He’s one of the toughest guys on our team. He continued to improve through his last snaps.”

Cameron hinted at a similar assessment, saying, “We’re all maturing, hey, to some degree. And he’s no different.”

“It’s been refreshing to me coming back to college and watching how much these guys can mature in six months, a year,” Cameron said. “And remember, Zach’s still a young guy. He’s not even two-thirds the way to where he’s gonna be at some point in time. And I think his game translates extremely well to the NFL.”

Mettenberger said his first two individual workouts with teams are scheduled for this week – the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday and the Detroit Lions on Saturday – with more to come after that.

Cameron said teams have picked his brain, but he said they don’t have too many pressing questions.

“The film speaks for itself,” Cameron said. “The one thing I know about scouts, they’re gonna look at the film first. Theyre gonna look at the game at Georgia or the game at Alabama. The games against quality opponents on the road. Zach obviously played extremely well.

“Some may ask, ‘Is there anything about him we wouldn’t know?’ And I tell them he’s one of the best, if not the best practice players I’ve been around. Just like [Landry and Beckham], because of the standard Les sets here.”

Mettenberger might not be ready to immediately lead his next team into the playoffs as a rookie like fellow big men Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger have done in recent years.

But if his growth in 2013 was a true indication of his potential, then he might well develop into one of the better investments in this year’s draft class.

McShay Mock 3.0: Saints 

March, 6, 2014
3/06/14
11:00
AM ET
Todd McShay’s third 2014 NFL mock draft for 2014 is out on ESPN Insider today.

For the New Orleans Saints, cornerback is the top need. They have very little salary cap wiggle room to help that spot in free agency, so it is quite possible that they use their first-round pick to find a partner for Keenan Lewis. Drafting a safety to team with last year’s promising first-rounder, Kenny Vaccaro, also makes a lot of sense if Malcolm Jenkins moves on in free agency, which seems likely.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive line might need a right tackle and/or center when the draft rolls around, but Sean Payton understands where his bread is buttered and it wouldn’t shock me if the Saints just can’t pass on a promising wide receiver in Round 1.

Whom does McShay have the Saints drafting at No. 27? Let's take a look Insider:

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