By Casey Gisclair
Most—if not all—of the scouting has been done.
Now, it’s time to build the draft boards, survey the talent available, and make your picks.
The much-anticipated NFL Draft begins on Thursday night with its first round, which will be televised nationally in primetime on ESPN. The remaining rounds of the seven-round affair will play out over Friday and Saturday.
For the Saints, the team’s needs are pretty well-known and have been highly publicized. Now it’s time to cash-in on the draft and make it happen.
Everyone loves a mock draft, so here is my own. My mock doesn’t factor in any trades or anything of the sort. It strictly picks available players of need for teams throughout the first round of the draft. Got a mock of your own? Shoot it our way, and we’d love to see it!
THE OFFICIAL GISCLAIR MOCK DRAFT
1. Tampa Bay Bucs – Florida State QB Jameis Winston – It’s a done deal. Winston to the Bucs. The crab leg stealing, Heisman Trophy QB will be in the NFC South.
2. Tennessee Titans – Oregon QB Marcus Mariota – He won’t be going to Tennessee. They’ll trade the pick to a QB-hungry team who covets Mariota.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Florida DE Dante Fowler – The Jags need a pressure threat on defense and Fowler fits the bill. Being a hometown guy helps, as well.
4. Oakland Raiders – Alabama WR Amari Cooper – The best player in the 2015 NFL Draft lands in Oakland, where he’ll team with promising young QB Derek Carr.
5. Washington Redskins – Clemson DE Vic Beasley – To me, Beasley is a better bet as a pass rusher than Fowler, but most reports say the Jags favor Fowler, which makes this pick possible.
6. New York Jets – USC DL Leonard Williams – Leonard Williams is a monster. If he falls past No. 5, teams will be salivating to trade up to snag him.
7. Chicago Bears – West Virginia WR Kevin White – With Brandon Marshall gone, the Bears will look to get White to keep their explosive offense intact.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Kentucky DE Bud Dupree – The Falcons desperately need help on defense, and Dupre could be the edge rusher the team needs, though a reach at No. 8.
9. New York Giants – LSU OT La’el Collins – OK, maybe I’m picking with my heart here, but the Giants desperately need linemen and Collins can play both guard and tackle.
10. St. Louis Rams – Iowa OL Brandon Scheriff – After taking Greg Robinson in 2014, the Rams go with the beef again and draft this sure-fire Pro Bowl guard.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Oregon DL Arik Armstead – The Vikings draft this big lug in an effort to better stress Aaron Rodgers for the next decade.
12. Cleveland Browns – Louisville WR DeVante Parker – With Josh Gordon in NFL purgatory, the Browns add a replacement in Parker, who was a dominant college receiver.
13. New Orleans Saints – Michigan State CB Trae Waynes – The Saints did sign Brandon Browner, but if Waynes is still on the board at No. 13, I expect New Orleans to run to the podium to take him.
14. Miami Dolphins – Washington DT Danny Shelton – The Dolphins need some toughness on the interior. Shelton can provide exactly that.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Nebraska DE Randy Gregory – There’s no way Gregory should still be on the board at No. 15. He’s too good. But a flunked test for pot spooks teams.
16. Houston Texans – Missouri OLB Shane Ray – JJ Watt gets a little help with Ray, who is a roll of the dice because of injury concerns.
17. San Diego Chargers – Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon – The Chargers add the bruising, physical tailback to their offense glittered with weapons.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Washington CB Marcus Peters – The Chiefs add arguably the best CB in the draft, if not for a few pre-draft concerns.
19. Cleveland Browns – Miami OT Ereck Flowers – After getting a receiver earlier in the draft, the Browns beef up their line with Flowers – a safe, steady pick.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson – Chip Kelly shuns his temptation to draft offense and snags some much-needed secondary help.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Stanford OT Andrus Peat – At No. 21, there’s no QB worth the pick to replace Andy Dalton. So the Bengals go with a lineman to fill a need.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Connecticut CB Byron Jones – With an aging defense almost entirely extinct, the Steelers reload with Jones – a solid cover corner.
23. Detroit Lions – Georgia RB Todd Gurley – The halfback by committee in Detroit ends with Gurley on board – my early favorite to win Rookie of the Year.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Oregon OT Jake Fisher – After seeing all of their QBs get hurt last year, the Cardinals boost their protection with a RT.
25. Carolina Panthers – Central Florida WR Breshad Perriman – The Panthers struck gold last year with Kelvin Benjamin. They add depth with Perriman, who is a hit or miss prospect.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi – The Ravens boost their line depth with this big monster from the SEC West.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Washington OLB Shaq Thompson – The Cowboys will try and try up for Gurley or Gordon. If that doesn’t work, they’ll go defense with the athletic, diverse Thompson.
28. Denver Broncos – Alabama SS Landon Collins – The Louisiana native was once thought to be a Top 10 pick. But questions about his coverage skills drop him to No. 28 – if not further down.
29. Indianapolis Colts – Duke OG Laken Tomlinson – This guy was an absolute boar at Duke. With a little polish, he could be a huge steal at No. 29.
30. Green Bay Packers – Texas DL Malcom Brown – What does a team draft when it has everything? With little in the way of needs, the Packers add more beef up front.
31. New Orleans Saints – Oklahoma WR Dorial Green-Beckham – I think the Saints seriously consider taking Bryce Petty to be the heir apparent to Drew Brees, but then settle on a safer pick in Green-Beckham, who can add explosion to an offense desperately needing it.
32. New England Patriots – Utah CB Eric Rowe – With Revis Island gone, the Super Bowl Champs find a serviceable stop-gap from the Pac-12.