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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Kiper mock 1.0 reaction: Saints

By Mike Triplett

Mel Kiper Jr. Insider has the New Orleans Saints selecting massive Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio “Tiny” Richardson with the 27th pick in his first mock draft. And the pick certainly makes a lot of sense -- especially if the Saints are unable to re-sign veteran right tackle Zach Strief in free agency.

Richardson was a two-year starter at left tackle for the Vols before leaving school early. But with his size (6-foot-6, 327 pounds) and strength, Richardson could certainly project as a right tackle in the NFL. He's also battle-tested, having faced some of the top pass-rushers in the country in the SEC (including two battles against South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney). Reportedly, Richardson held his own against Clowney in 2012 before struggling in the rematch last season.

The offensive line will rank among the Saints' top needs in the draft this year, whether or not they re-sign pending free agents Strief and center Brian de la Puente. I think the Saints will stick with rookie Terron Armstead as their left tackle for the future after his strong finish to this past season. But they need to start developing some young talent at every other position across the line.

However, I don't see the Saints locking themselves into any one specific need this far down in the draft order. Other strong possibilities could include cornerback, outside linebacker and receiver, among others.