Full 7-Round Saints 2023 Mock Draft: Pre-NFL Scouting Combine

It’s finally here. The NFL Scouting Combine is ready to begin, and we managed to squeeze in one last mock draft for the 2023 New Orleans Saints before days of athletic testing, private meetings and rumors throw everything into disarray.

And we have everything. This time we bring some free agency predictions to help set the board and look at a few trades with help Professional football network mock draft simulator. At the end, you’ll find a recap of our draft day draw, our future picks in 2024, and an updated depth chart to reflect any new additions. Let’s get it:

Free agency projection

Here is the scenario we are working with:

  • Free agents re-signed: TE Juwan Johnson (restricted), DT David Onyemata, DT Kentavius ​​Street, DT Malcolm Roach. WR Michael Thomas returns on an incentive one-year deal to try to re-establish himself with a proven passer.

  • Free agents added: QB Derek Carr, RB Alexander Mattison, DE Rasheem Green and WR Darius Slayton.

  • Free agents lost: DE Marcus Davenport, LB Kaden Elliss, DT Shy Tuttle and QB Andy Dalton.

  • Salary cap losses: QB Jameis Winston.

The Saints got the veteran running back they craved the most and improved depth at the skill positions, but at the cost of young talent in the defensive front seven. Green is a steady veteran who can line up inside or outside. Both Winston and Dalton join the new teams in 2023 as backups in hopes of competing for the starting job in Week 1.

So we go into the draft with these priorities in mind:

  • Must: DT, RB

  • Needs: OF, S, TE

  • wants to: OG, WR, LB

Remaining selections: 29, 71, 115, 148, 167, 229, 260

Round 1, pick 29: Trade down

Would the Saints really trade? Probably not with Ohio State Buckeyes star Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Florida Gators guard O’Cyrus Torrence staring them in the face. But the Arizona Cardinals have offered next year’s second-round pick in exchange for our fourth baseman at No. 115 if we move up five spots from No. 29 to 34. We’ll pick and move down, thanks .

Remaining selections: 34, 40, 71, 148, 167, 229, 260

2nd round, pick 34: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

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The player we wanted all along was still available, and now we’ve addressed a second-level need while getting an immediate upgrade over Adam Trautman as our primary blocking tight end. Mayer is the best run blocker in the draft class and is also dynamite on contested catches (caught 33 of 55 such targets). If he runs as well as he hopes at the combine, he will secure his status as the top tight end prospect in the draft. He and Juwan Johnson could be dangerous together.

  • Must: DT, RB

  • Needs: DE, S, THE

  • wants to: OG, WR, LB

Remaining selections: 40, 71, 148, 167, 229, 260

2nd round, pick 40: Florida DT Gervon Dexter Sr.

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Dexter makes a lot of sense here. He has been a team leader for the Gators who have been exemplary in their bowl game, and the Saints know him well after hiring his old coach Todd Grantham. He hits the archetype of size they value at the position. He’s been a consistent pressure player on the pass and held up well against the run, and should be a solid rock to build New Orleans up front in a rotation with Onyemata, Street and Roach.

  • Must: DTRB

  • Needs: DE, S, THE

  • wants to: OG, WR, LB

Remaining selections: 71, 148, 167, 229, 260

Round 3, Pick 67: Another trade, this time going up

There was a cloud of three players I really liked at this point: UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet and Tennessee prospects Hendon Hooker (running back) and Cedric Tillman (receiver). The problem is, I didn’t see all three going to No. 71, so I started calling teams early in the third round offering that pick and our fifth player at No. 167 to try and move up.

The Chicago Bears bounced us at No. 64. So did the Houston Texans at No. 65. The Cardinals, perhaps regretting our previous deal, didn’t answer the phone at No. 66. But the Denver Broncos bounced back at -back at Nos. 67 and 68, and they were willing to talk – and Sean Payton convinced George Paton to give up a little and send back the 67th pick instead of the 68th.

Remaining selections: 67, 148, 229, 260

3rd Round, Pick 67: UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This was not an easy decision to make. I have a lot of faith in Hendon Hooker and he could be a good backup if Carr goes down. But Charbonnet is ready to help the team today. Alvin Kamara could miss time due to suspension, and Alexander Mattison has never led the backfield by himself, so adding a rookie running back with a ton of big-time ability is a smart move. I like Cedric Tillman a lot too, but Charbonnet is a cleaner prospect with less injury history and less playing time given the state of the depth chart.

  • Must: DT, RB

  • Needs: DE, S, THE

  • wants to: OG, WR, LB

Remaining selections: 148, 229, 260

5th round, pick 148: Ohio State S Ronnie Hickman

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Hickman was one of the fastest players measured in practice at the Senior Bowl, and he offers a ton of flexibility as someone with extensive pictures played in the slot, over the top and in the box. He dampens hard in run support and doesn’t panic on vertical passes in a high arc. I like him as someone who can immediately help on special teams and in slot coverage, while giving the Saints an option to start 2024 if they move on from Marcus Maye or Tyrann Mathieu in the final year of their contracts.

  • Must: DT, RB

  • Needs: FROM, WITH, THE

  • wants to: OG, WR, LB

Remaining selections: 229, 260

Round 7, Pick 220: Another trade, another move up

The last thing left on our draft day to-do list was to add another pass rusher, and the seventh round offers little picks. These late-round prospects rate similarly to many of the undrafted free agents the Saints will sign after the draft, so we won’t worry too much about packing our two seventh-rounders into one last move to get the best edge player available.

But the San Francisco 49ers didn’t play ball at No. 216; dropping to No. 229 and getting only the 260th pick in return didn’t sit well with them (which is odd, considering they got Brock Purdy at that spot a year ago). The Kansas City Chiefs picked twice at Nos. 217 and 219, but didn’t budge. Neither would the New York Giants at No. 218.

Finally someone bit. The Chicago Bears only had one pick at No. 220, so they were happy to slide down nine spots and get the last pick in the draft for their trouble. That put us on the clock for the last time.

Remaining selections: 220

Round 7, pick 220: Central Michigan DE Thomas Incoom

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Incoom is a little short by Saints standards at 6-foot-2, but he makes up for it with 33-inch arms and a 79-inch wingspan. He also tips the scales at a well-built 265 pounds. More importantly, though, he pops off the screen every time you check the Chippewas — Incoom recorded 18.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks last year, flashing past slow blockers with his quickness off the edge. That element of speed has been missing in New Orleans for a long time, and it gives him a quality that other reserves on the roster can’t offer while competing for snaps.

  • Must: DT, RB

  • Needs: FROM, WITH, THE

  • wants to: OG, WR, LB

We are reviewing our draft

  • 2nd round, choice 34: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

  • 2nd round, pick 40: Florida DT Gervon Dexter Sr.

  • 3rd round, pick 67: UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet

  • Round 5, pick 148: Ohio State S Ronnie Hickman

  • Round 7, pick 220: Central Michigan DE Thomas Incoom

There’s your typical Saints draft haul, going for quality over quantity with plenty of varsity team captains and top athletes. We’ve accomplished our top priorities and should be able to address other areas of concern (adding another backup quarterback, and more depth at wide receiver and linebacker; perhaps pursuing an undrafted rookie quarterback) after the draft. Plus, here’s our growing stock of picks for 2024:

  • 1st round (own)

  • 2nd round (Broncos)

  • 2nd round (Cardinals)

  • 4th round (own)

  • 5th round (own)

  • 6th round (own)

  • 6th round (Eagles)

Offense (after the draft)

  • Back: Derek Carr, Jake Luton

  • Return: Alvin Kamara, Alexander Mattison, Zach Charbonnet, Eno Benjamin, Derrick Gore

  • Fullback: Adam Prentice

  • Tight end: Juwan Johnson, Michael Mayer, Adam Trautman, Taysom Hill, Lucas Krull, Miller Forristall

  • Attacking choice: Ryan Ramczyk, James Hurst, Trevor Penning, Landon Young

  • Center/Guard:: Erik McCoy, Andrus Peat, Cesar Ruiz, Calvin Throckmorton, Lewis Kidd, Yasir Durant, Koda Martin

  • Wide receiver: Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, Michael Thomas, Darius Slayton, Tre’Quan Smith, Keith Kirkwood, Kirk Merritt, Kawaan Baker

Defense (after the draft)

  • Defensive end: Cameron Jordan, Carl Granderson, Rasheem Green, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Payton Turner, Thomas Incoom, Jabari Zuniga

  • Defensive move: David Onyemata, Gervon Dexter Sr., Kentavius ​​Street, Malcolm Roach, Prince Emily

  • Inside linebacker: Demario Davis, D’Marco Jackson

  • Outfielder: Pete Werner, Zack Baun, Nephi Sewell, Ryan Connelly

  • Security: Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Maye, Ronnie Hickman, Smoke Monday

  • Cornerback: Marshon Lattimore, Alontae Taylor, Paulson Adebo, Bradley Roby, Vincent Taylor, Troy Pride Jr.

The story originally appeared on Saints Wire

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