COMMENTARY | In a couple of weeks the New Orleans Saints will be on the clock in the 2013 NFL draft. With only five draft picks, the team's focus will be retooling the defense.
1) First Round pick no.15 - Barkevious Mingo, LB LSU
With the 15th pick in the first round, the Saints will select LSU's Barkevious Mingo. Mingo is an athletic defender with the versatility to play linebacker and defensive end. He has experience playing in a 3-4 defense, and will transition nicely into Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's system. Several mock draft boards project Mingo to go in the top 10, but I expect him to be available in the mid-first round for the Saints to select him.
2) Third Round pick no.75 - Tyrann Mathieu, S LSU
The Saints forfeited their second round pick as part of a league sanctioned punishment for last season's bounty scandal. In the third round (pick no.75), the team will select LSU safety Tyrann Mathieu. This is a sleeper pick that can pay dividends for the Saints. Mathieu has dealt with off the field issues, but deserves a second chance. He's an explosive safety with tremendous ball skills that can also play punt returner.
3) Fourth Round pick no.109 - Chase Thomas, LB Stanford
In the fourth round (pick no.109) the Saints will grab Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas. Thomas is a good tackler with nice quickness and agility. He brings youth and athleticism to a veteran linebacking core in desperate need of it.
4) Fifth Round pick no.144-T.J. Barnes, NT Georgia Tech
The Saints released defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis earlier this month and need to find a viable replacement. Look for them to draft Georgia Tech nose tackle T.J. Barnes in the fifth round (pick no.144). Barnes is a massive 6'6" 369 pound run stuffer who's a solid pass rusher effective at batting down passes. He will adequately fit Rob Ryan's system as a three down lineman.
5) Sixth Round pick no.183-Chris Faulk, OT LSU
There's no telling what defensive gems will remain in the later rounds. So look for the Saints to use their final pick in the sixth round (pick no.183) on LSU offensive tackle Chris Faulk. After losing offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod to the Bears in free agency, Faulk makes sense for the Saints. At 6'6" 325 pounds he has tremendous athleticism, and is stout as a run and pass blocker. Faulk's addition will provide much needed depth along the offensive line.
I don't expect many draft day surprises by the Saints. The team's strategy is to select the best available player with their picks. With limited resources to spare, general manager Mickey Loomis is highly unlikely to engage in any draft day trades.
Daniel Miller is a freelance sportswriter for Patch.com. He has also worked as a freelance sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News, a sports editor for Sirius XM Radio, and a sports production assistant for KXAS-TV NBC-5 in Dallas.
You can follow Daniel on Twitter @dm26nola
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