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Who are analysts selecting for the Saints at pick No. 29?

The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is upon us, and mock drafts are all the rage. So who do the experts have the New Orleans Saints targeting in the first round of their latest projections? Which positions are beginning to trend one way or another? Is there any sort of consensus starting to emerge?

To find out, we surveyed the most recent wave of mock drafts and catalogued all of their first-round picks for the Saints. And we’re seeing an early push towards bolstering New Orleans’ defensive line, which makes sense given the multiple starters (Marcus Davenport and David Onyemata) who could depart as free agents in just a few weeks:

USA TODAY - Nate Davis

AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz

New Orleans Saints select Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness

“New Orleans picked up this peripatetic pick by letting Payton go to Denver. Van Ness should be an every-down player who can line up outside or in depending on the situation. And with this D-line set to lose David Onyemata, Marcus Davenport and Shy Tuttle, a versatile replacement who can get to the quarterback – Van Ness has 13 sacks and 17 TFLs over the past two seasons – would provide welcome support to aging DE Cam Jordan, 33.”

Draft Wire - Luke Easterling

AP Photo/Gary McCullough

New Orleans Saints select Florida OL O’Cyrus Torrence

“After getting back into the first round courtesy of the Sean Payton trade, the Saints are able to fill one of their biggest needs with the top prospect at his position. Torrence is a plug-and-play starter at guard, and without a quarterback worthy of this spot still on the board, the Saints would be wise to address the offensive trenches instead.”

Touchdown Wire - Doug Farrar

Ken Ruinard / The Greenville News / USA TODAY NETWORK

New Orleans Saints select Clemson LB Trenton Simpson

“The Saints could use help at both linebacker and edge, so why not both? Simpson is the latest in an increasingly valuable strain of player who can line up just about everywhere on the field — literally from defensive line to one snap at outside cornerback — and has the athleticism to get things done at all levels.”

Falcons Wire - Matt Urben

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints select Pitt DT Calijah Kancey

Kancey wins with leverage and a great first step, which he’ll need as an undersized defensive tackle. But there’s no doubting his playmaking ability. You just have to wonder if he can hold his ground against bigger athletes on the other side of the ball at the NFL level.

Jaguars Wire - Adam Stites

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints select Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness

“While quarterback is the most pressing need for the Saints, reaching for the fifth quarterback of the first round probably isn’t the move. If New Orleans can solve their passer problem in March, it could free up the team to its defensive line.”

College Sports Wire - Patrick Conn

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints select Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs

“The Saints can upgrade the offense with the addition of Jahmyr Gibbs. He can be an elite runner, pass catcher, and return specialist for New Orleans. Especially considering there are legit questions about Alvin Kamara’s future in the Big Easy.”

NFL.com - Daniel Jeremiah

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints select Boston College WR Zay Flowers

Flowers is one of the most enjoyable players to study in this year’s class. He’d be a lock for the top 15 if he were two inches taller.”

Yahoo Sports - Charles McDonald

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints select Georgia CB Kelee Ringo

“Kelee Ringo’s fall ends here. The Saints might have the best corner trio in the league with Marshon Lattimore, Alontae Taylor and Ringo.”

Pro Football Network - Tony Pauline

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

New Orleans Saints select Michigan DT Mazi Smith

“The Saints have a crying need for defensive tackle help. Mazi Smith has been a terrific player the past two seasons and will be a Combine hero very soon. New Orleans head coach Dennis Allen will love the idea of Smith anchoring his defense for years to come.”

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints select Boston College WR Zay Flowers

“After the Carr signing in this mock scenario, the Saints have to add weaponry to the offense. They do that with the small but sensational Flowers.”

The 33rd Team - Staff

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints select Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness

“Lukas Van Ness fits New Orleans’ profile for a pass rusher with his size and length. This would give Cameron Jordan a partner to help produce on the other side of the line.”

Defensive line is an area of focus

We’re seeing a lot of projections at defensive end in particular, with the experts drawing a link to Van Ness out of Iowa. They do need more depth at defensive end and a long-term plan to replace Jordan, so that makes sense. If not Van Ness, there are other prospects available at the end of the first round who fit New Orleans’ established prototype.

But if they go in another direction, receiver feels like an area of focus, especially Boston College’s Flowers. He needs to prove he can maintain his weight at the NFL level after playing at just 172 pounds last season, but there’s little to question about his playmaking ability.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire