Saints get better on offense and defense in Draft Wire’s latest mock

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
John Sigler
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Ask ten fans which position the New Orleans Saints should target in the 2021 NFL draft and you might get ten different answers. But the most common responses might be linebacker and wide receiver; both spots were highlighted as vulnerabilities in 2020 when the Saints struggled to find a compliment to All-Pro linebacker Demario Davis while injuries hit almost every receiver on the depth chart. An injection of young talent would be welcome.

The Saints ended up checking off both boxes in Luke Easterling’s latest mock over at Draft Wire. New Orleans picked Missouri Tigers linebacker Nick Bolton in the first round (at No. 28 overall) and saw Purdue Boilermakers slot receiver Rondale Moore fall to them in the second round (at No. 60).

That would be quite a haul to start the draft. Moore is considered a first round prospect, but the quality of this year’s crop and some questions about his game could see him fall. His highs were impressive at Purdue but he was limited to lining up out of the slot, with 966 of his 1,103 career snaps coming from that alignment. There will be a learning curve for him in the NFL despite his great athleticism. Still, he’d be another nice weapon to add to the group.

But let’s not lose sight of what adding Bolton would mean to the defense. Right now, the Saints don’t have a clear No. 2 linebacker next to Davis. Kwon Alexander could be a salary cap cut if he’s able to return from a torn Achilles tendon. Zack Baun is an unproven position-switch who couldn’t get on the field as a rookie. His usual sidekicks Alex Anzalone and Craig Robertson are both free agents. That leaves Baun and Kaden Elliss with practice squad holdovers Chase Hansen and Andrew Dowell as your best options.

Bolton is slightly undersized for the position and hasn’t quite shown the top end speed to compensate, but he has the skills, smarts, and football instincts to compete with anyone. It would be good to see him clean up his tackling (28 misses over the last two years, per Pro Football Focus) but he’s still the SEC leader in tackles for loss since 2019 (30).

Making these kind of additions at two positions of need with their first two picks would be great for New Orleans, but maybe their priorities look dramatically different in a few months. Free agency is still ahead of us and the Saints still need to navigate a complicated salary cap situation. But at this stage in the offseason, there’s definitely value in an optimistic outlook like this.