New Orleans Saints 2019 draft: Analysis for every pick

NFL draft profile: Erik McCoy (1:00)

Texas A&M's Eric McCoy is an outstanding run-blocker and one of the smartest offensive linemen in his class. (1:00)

Breaking down the New Orleans Saints' class in the 2019 NFL draft.

Round 2, No. 48 overall: Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M

My take: The Saints paid a fairly steep price to move up 14 spots. But it's hard to argue with the result as they filled one of their top needs with a player that both ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay said they were surprised to see fall to the 48th pick. McCoy should compete with recently-signed veteran Nick Easton for the Saints’ starting center job in the wake of Pro Bowl center Max Unger’s retirement. McCoy also has the versatility to play guard if needed, but he said the Saints told him they plan to work him at center for now. McCoy started in each of the Aggies’ 39 games over the past three years and showed great athleticism for a 6-foot-4, 303-pounder, in addition to being lauded for his intelligence and leadership. ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said he fits the same type of profile as Unger -- which is awfully high praise.

What's next: The Saints traded away a second-round pick in 2020 as part of their deal with the Miami Dolphins (the Saints also traded picks No. 62 and 202 in this year’s draft for picks No. 48 and 116). That means they aren't scheduled to pick again until Round 4, and they will have a total of five picks on Saturday. Depth at receiver, safety, defensive end and linebacker could be among New Orleans' top priorities -- with an emphasis on guys who could contribute on special teams.


NFL draft profile: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is an athletic defensive back out of Florida who could be used as a slot defender who can blitz.

Round 4, No. 105 overall: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

My take: The Saints can't resist moving up (now twice in this draft and 17 times in the past 13 years). But as they say, that shows they have a "vision" and a conviction for the player. Heading into this draft, I listed offensive line and safety as two of the Saints' top long-term needs, and now they have filled both. Starting safety Vonn Bell is a free agent after this year, and New Orleans released veteran backup Kurt Coleman. Gardner-Johnson (5-foot-11, 210) has great versatility. He spent a lot of time in the slot in college, as well as in the box in run support and back in deep coverage. He also showed great play-making ability with three career INTs returned for touchdowns. And he should be an immediate asset on special teams.

Round 6, No. 177 overall: Saquan Hampton, S, Rutgers

My take: The Saints were thin at safety heading into the draft. But they solved that Saturday, drafting Gardner-Johnson in Round 4 and Hampton in Round 6. Hampton might have a hard time cracking the defensive rotation as a rookie, barring injuries in front of him. Both rookies should compete for roles on special teams as well as defense, though. Hampton (6-foot-1, 206 pounds) was named Rutgers' most valuable player last season after leading the team with three interceptions and 13 pass breakups. He was also voted a team captain and started a total of 27 games over four years.

Round 7, No. 231 overall: Alize Mack, TE, Notre Dame

My take: The Saints made one of their most intriguing picks in Round 7. Mack (6-foot-4, 249) is a great athlete who was a top recruit at Notre Dame. But he hasn't realized his potential yet -- he missed a season because of academics. Mack caught 36 passes for 360 yards and three TDs in 2018. He'll compete for a roster spot behind veterans Jared Cook and Josh Hill -- and try to surpass Dan Arnold and Garrett Griffin as the team's top young developmental tight end.

Round 7, No. 244 overall: Kaden Elliss, OLB, Idaho

My take: Elliss played both linebacker and defensive end in college, where he earned first-team All-Big Sky honors last season with seven sacks and 16 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-2, 238 pounds, he isn't likely to be a 4-3 DE in New Orleans. But he should compete for a role as a sub-rusher. And he said the Saints want him to learn multiple positions, in addition to a likely special teams role. His father, Luther, was a two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Lions who also coached him as Idaho's D-line coach.