First off, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: it’s way too early for a mock draft. Of course that’s true. But why spoil the fun? Especially with the New Orleans Saints virtually eliminated from playoff contention.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay unveiled his first 2016 mock draft on Wednesday. He paired the Saints with Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed with the No. 11 pick. LSU fans will remember Reed as a central part of the defensive front that shut down former Heisman Trophy front-runner Leonard Fournette last month.
Reed (6-foot-4, 313 pounds) seems like an excellent choice for the Saints, who have the NFL's 32nd-ranked rushing defense -- especially since they came close to drafting Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton in 2015.
Then again, just about any defensive player seems like an excellent choice for New Orleans, which ranks 31st in the NFL in yards allowed, 32nd in points allowed and is on pace to allow the most touchdown passes in NFL history.
If I had to rank the priorities, I might start with a pass-rushing defensive end and a cornerback. But the Saints shouldn’t reach for any one position with so many holes to fill on both sides of the ball. I wouldn’t rule out an offensive guard in the mix, either. And you can never rule out receiver, though the Saints have proven they can thrive without first-round talent at that position.
At some point, some of these mock drafts will start pairing the Saints with a quarterback in Round 1.
I don’t think the Saints have to reach for a quarterback yet, because I still think Drew Brees has at least two or three standout years left in him, provided he signs an extension with the Saints beyond 2016. The Saints shouldn’t be in any rush to get rid of Brees until they have a bona fide Plan B in place.
But since the Saints will need that Plan B at some point, I think they have reached the point now that they can consider using a first-round pick on a quarterback as long as they truly fall in love with one and have conviction that he'll become a standout starter.
The problem is that its much easier said than done. If there is such thing as a surefire quarterback prospect in this year's draft, he will probably be long gone before the Saints pick. McShay has three quarterbacks in his mock -- and they are going at No. 2, No. 5 and No. 30.