A DT prospect for the Saints in every round of the 2023 NFL draft
What is the biggest priority for the New Orleans Saints this offseason — after quarterback, of course? Maybe it’s running back. Maybe it’s defensive tackle. Every player in that position group who got on the field for the Saints last year is headed for free agency, and odds are they won’t able to hold onto everyone. Whether it’s David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, Kentavius Street, or Malcolm Roach moving on, the Saints should be looking to pick a defensive tackle at some point in this year’s draft.
And the 2023 draft class runs deep. There are players who have something to offer in all seven rounds of the event. Let’s survey some of those options:
Round 1: Siaki Ika, Baylor
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Ika is cut from the same cloth as Jordan Davis and Vita Vea, and he should have similar success in the NFL as an immediate upgrade to any team’s run defense. He’s also already disruptive on passing downs with serious growth potential once he focuses on cultivating that area of his game.
Round 2: Mazi Smith, Michigan
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Smith is already a dominant player against the run, and he’s flashed enough impact plays on passing downs to make teams believe he can be a three-down player right away. He’s also one of the younger prospects in this year’s draft class with room to grow.
Round 3: Gervon Dexter, Florida
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Dexter has been a big part of the Gators’ interior pass-rush rotation the last two years, and he’s also held his own against the run. The Saints recently hired his former coach Todd Grantham to work with their defensive line.
Round 4: Zacch Pickens, South Carolina
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Pickens is a strong finisher who converts his pressures into sacks, but he hasn’t consistently produced throughout his career on a per-snap basis. Splash plays are valuable but reliable production is what matters most.
Round 5: Moro Ojomo, Texas
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Ojomo was a steady contributor up front for the Longhorns throughout his career, but he broke out in a big way in 2022 with 5 sacks and 26 total pressures, per Pro Football Focus charting. He’s on the upswing and could really help himself at the NFL scouting combine next week.
Round 6: Jalen Redmond, Oklahoma
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Redmond is a very productive college player with 14 sacks in his career, and he’s used to making the most of his opportunities in an interior rotation. He needs to prove he isn’t maxed out athletically and that he can handle a heavier workload in the pros.
Round 7: Dante Stills, West Virginia
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Stills might lack the size to play heavy minutes in the NFL right away, but that’s okay — there are roles for pass-rush specialists like him who can get under opponents’ pads. He can play. His 23 career sacks are proof of it.