Saints land an All-SEC linebacker in Todd McShay’s 2021 NFL mock draft

John Sigler
·2 min read

Could the New Orleans Saints invest in a rookie linebacker in the 2021 NFL draft? They haven’t gotten much of an impact from Zack Baun, a third-round pick they traded up to acquire in 2020, so it’s possible that they go back to that well in search of help.

And they just might need it. Of the eight linebackers on their roster right now, Kwon Alexander is a possible salary cap casualty (in addition to a long recovery from Achilles surgery) while Alex Anzalone and Craig Robertson are both headed for free agency. It’s a good thing Demario Davis signed a multiyear contract extension, because the remaining linebackers have totaled just 88 combined snaps on defense this year between Baun (82), Kaden Elliss (5), and Chase Hansen (1).

For an idea of who they could bring in to reinforce the middle of their defense, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay linked the Saints to Missouri Tigers linebacker Nick Bolton, writing:

“The Saints could use a talent like Bolton, as inside linebacker is perhaps the only question mark on their stout defense. He plays fast and has great instincts in coverage, compiling 95 tackles this season. Sliding him in at the second level would help keep New Orleans’ run defense strong.”

Bolton earned All-SEC recognition in each of the last two seasons, totaling 220 tackles (139 solo, 17.5 tackles for loss) in his Missouri career. He’s also got some ball skills with a couple of interceptions and a dozen passes defensed on his resume. He’s a little undersized, listed at 6-foot-0 and 232 pounds, but good instincts can make up for a low height-weight combination. Just look at what Sam Mills accomplished.

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Saints roster moves: WRs Michael Thomas, Deonte Harris designated to return