Saints invest heavily on offense in three-round 2022 mock draft

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The New Orleans Saints spent their first three picks in the 2021 draft on defensive players, and now Luke Easterling over at Draft Wire forecasts the pendulum to swing in the other direction for 2022. His latest NFL mock draft has the Saints selecting three players on offense in rounds one, two, and three, including a potential new franchise quarterback. It’s ridiculously early in the draft process so use this more as a guide for names to know during the college football season.

Round 1, 15th Overall: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5) celebrates his touchdown catch against Indiana Hoosiers during the first quarter in their NCAA Division I football game on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Though he only has middling size to work with (listed at 6-foot-even and 192 pounds), Wilson enters his junior year with 11 career touchdown receptions and an impressive average of 15.8 yards per catch. He ranked second on the team in every receiving category last season and should take another step forwards in 2021, solidifying the first-round draft hype.

Round 2, 47th Overall: QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) runs the ball on a keeper in the second quarter of the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. The Bearcats led 14-10 at halftime. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Ridder might be a rich man's Ian Book. He's got all the baseline qualities NFL teams look for between his size (6-foot-4 and 215 pounds) and winning record (having led the Bearcats to a 31-6 run) in the AAC. He needs to show he can stress defenses better downfield, having averaged a mere 7.5 yards per pass attempt in his career, but there's a lot to like and he fits New Orleans' standards.

Round 3, 79th Overall: TE Will Mallory, Miami (FL)

Oklahoma State safety Kolby Harvell-Peel (31) stops Miami tight end Will Mallory (85) after a reception during the first half of the Cheez-it Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

He still hasn't really broken out (totaling 22 receptions in 2020 and 16 catches in 2019), but Mallory could end up a better pro than college player. He's already got the measurables teams covet 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, and the 15.3 yards per catch he's averaged in his Hurricanes career suggests he can stretch the field. We'll see how his stock changes with a now-or-never senior year. Now, the Saints will have at least one more third round pick as a compensatory selection for personnel executive Terry Fontenot leaving to take the Atlanta Falcons job. And they might receive another third rounder as compensation for pass rusher Trey Hendrickson leaving in free agency, though it could end up falling to the fourth round. That uncertainty will be cleared up when the NFL announces comp picks in the offseason.

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