McShay on Saints' options at WR, CB

The good news for the New Orleans Saints: The wide receiver and cornerback positions appear to be the two deepest in Round 1 of this year's NFL draft.

The bad news: Half of the league seems to be in the market for those same positions.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said that by the time he gets down to teams like New Orleans at No. 27, the Carolina Panthers at No. 28 and the San Francisco 49ers at No. 30 in his mock drafts, those positions have already thinned out.

“It's funny, because those are the two deepest positions, I think, in the draft. But I keep getting there, and it's amazing how quickly the receivers and corners are going,” McShay said.

That was especially the case when McShay and fellow ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. paired together for a mock draft on Thursday nightInsider. They selected a whopping nine receivers and four cornerbacks among their first 28 picks.

The receivers: Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr.,

Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Marqise Lee, Bruce Ellington, Cody Latimer (to the Saints) and Davante Adams.

The corners: Darqueze Dennard, Justin Gilbert, Kyle Fuller and Jason Verrett.

Obviously the draft could play out much differently. But it's clear that if the Saints covet a specific player or two at those top need positions, they might have to trade up to secure them.

It might be worth it for the Saints to move up to get one of the dynamic receiver/kick returners such as Beckham, Cooks or Lee.

But the argument against doing so is that analysts and personnel people universally agree that this is one of the deepest drafts for receiver talent in years.

McShay said he believes the strength of the wide receiver class will actually be the third round and even the fourth. As of late last week, he had 21 receivers with fourth-round grades or better. And he said at least four or five others could be graded that highly by other teams.

“So if you don't get a receiver in the first, you're probably not expecting to get a guy who's gonna come in and be an immediate starter (later in the draft),” McShay said. “But I think there's a number of guys in the second, third and fourth that could come in and make an immediate contribution.”

As of late last week, McShay had first-round grades on Watkins, Evans, Beckham, Cooks, Lee, Latimer and Kelvin Benjamin. Then he projected Adams, Jarvis Landry and Matthews as solid second-rounders.

Then he continued his list with Ellington, Paul Richardson, Martavis Bryant, Brandon Coleman, Allen Robinson, Robert Herron, Donte Moncrief, Kevin Norwood, Jalen Saunders, Josh Huff and Mike Davis.

McShay's brief reviews of the 6-foot, 205-pound Landry and the 6-2, 221-pound Moncrief were particularly interesting -- especially to New Orleans-area readers since they're from neighboring schools LSU and Ole Miss, respectively:

“Jarvis Landry, I'd have a first-round grade on him if he could run. His times are so poor. But he's a great slot receiver, tough-guy football player,” McShay said.

He later added, “Donte Moncrief did not play all that well this past year. But if you're a metrics guy, he's the first pick of the draft. One of the most impressive workout freaks that you've ever seen at the wide receiver position.”