Saints could consider CB in Round 1, especially if Vernon Hargreaves III falls

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@MikeTriplett: That’s a great question on Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, because I’ve seen him slipping into the Saints’ range at No. 12 in more and more mock drafts recently -- including the latest effort from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

If that happens, I think Hargreaves would absolutely be in play for the Saints. And I think the cornerback position, in general, will be a strong consideration. Houston’s William Jackson III, Ohio State’s Eli Apple and Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander are three others that could potentially be worth the No. 12 pick if any are highest-ranked player on New Orleans’ board.

I still rank defensive end as the Saints’ top need. But after that, for me, it’s a virtual four-way tie between defensive tackle, outside linebacker, cornerback and guard. I’d rank wide receiver and safety just a notch below those top five spots.

There are two main reasons why so many people have been projecting a defensive lineman to the Saints in Round 1. For one, it’s their biggest need. Second, there are a ton of good draft prospects ranked in that range at that position (Clemson DE Shaq Lawson, Lousiville DT Sheldon Rankins, Alabama DTs Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson, among others).

But the Saints definitely won’t get pigeon-holed into just one position of need.

As for Hargreaves specifically, Kiper and fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay have explained that the biggest knock on him is his measurables. He’s 5-foot-10, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds, and McShay wrote that his arm length of 30 5/8 inches is “nearing red-flag territory.” But he is widely considered the best cover corner in this year’s draft class, and he had 10 career interceptions.

The Saints don’t have to draft a cornerback since they have decent depth with Delvin Breaux, Keenan Lewis, Damian Swann, P.J. Williams, Kyle Wilson and Brian Dixon, among others. But that group includes a ton of injury questions after Lewis, Swann and Williams all wound up on injured reserve at some point last season.

And it should go without saying that the Saints could find room for more quality defensive backs after they set NFL records for TD passes allowed (45) and opponents’ passer rating (116.1) last year. If a first-round pick winds up in a nickel or dime role, that would be a great problem to have.