National analysts project the Saints picks a week out from the NFL Draft

Utah State QB Jordan Love is a popular pick for the Saints among draft analysts. (Source: Utah State University Athletics, utahstateaggies.com)
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LOUISIANA (KPLC) - The 2020 NFL Draft is set to begin April 23 with it being the league’s first full virtual experience with teams working from their homes. With the draft just over a week away we’ll check out mock drafts for the New Orleans Saints from national analysts to see where the Black and Gold might go with the 24th overall pick.

A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson (Mel Kiper, ESPN)

Terrell has been getting some first-round buzz. New Orleans desperately has to upgrade with young talent at the cornerback position. Terrell is physically gifted -- he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at 6-foot-1 -- though he had an inconsistent 2019 season.

Brady’s take: The Saints could use some help at CB with the loss of Eli Apple to free agency. Terrell is a big athletic corner that should fit the Saints scheme. While Janoris Jenkins will likely be the starter opposite Marshon Lattimore, Terrell could give the Saints another key piece to pair with Lattimore for the future.

Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma (Todd McShay, ESPN)

Murray plays fast and could be the future quarterback of the New Orleans defense. He is one of the best available prospects on the board, and the Saints would jump at a chance to plop the rangy Murray in the middle of the field.
Brady’s take: This would be an interesting fit on multiple fronts. The Saints have room at the position to improve especially with how injuries derailed them a season ago. While Murray is listed as an inside backer by McShay, he may best project to an outside linebacker in the Saints’ 4-3 scheme.

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU (Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network)

The Saints don’t have many glaring needs. They can afford to simply take the best player available.
Brady’s take: This selection is one that would make many Saints fan happy. Queen would be the first first-round LSU pick in Saints history and the highest selection since Devery Henderson (second round) in 2004. Queen’s fit would be similar to Murray although experience is on the Sooner’s side on this one.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State (Peter Schrager, NFL Network)

Aiyuk is expected to come off the board in Round 1. I’ve got him going to New Orleans, a team that has very few holes, but could use one more receiver if the Saints are going to make a run for Drew Brees’ elusive second Super Bowl ring this season. Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Aiyuk would form a very dangerous 1-2-3.
Brady’s take: In today’s NFL you can never have enough weapons which makes Aiyuk’s selection an interesting one. With Sanders’ signing, there is no pressing need at WR but getting a productive WR (65 receptions, 1,192 yards, eight TD) in at the 3-spot would make Brees’ life a lot easier.

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (Bucky Brooks, NFL Network)

Imagine the fun Sean Payton could have grooming the super-talented Love for the QB1 role down the road.
Brady’s take: Boy would this start a heated debate, but Brooks is on to something. We know Brees isn’t long for the NFL, so the Saints need to have the future secured as soon as possible and maybe that guy is already on the roster in Taysom Hill. Likely, Hill isn’t the long-term answer so getting a guy with upside like Love this late in the first round would be a home run.

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU (Charles Davis, NFL Network)

I’m taking coach Sean Payton at his word that he views backup Taysom Hill as a potential starting QB in the NFL, so the Saints bypass a passer with this pick and opt to add more speed to their defense.
Brady’s take: This would be the other side of that debate.

Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU (Walter Cherepinsky, Walterfootball.com)

The Saints don’t have too many needs, but one of the few areas they should address is the interior of the defensive line. They can stand to get better next to Sheldon Rankins. Ross Blacklock has underrated athleticism at his listed size from college (6-3, 329).
Brady’s take: Saints hit the defensive line up in this mock draft with the team selecting an interior rusher. While this would not be a popular pick among fans, Blacklock would likely be a great fit on what would be an absolutely stacked front four. He is noted for his strong pass rush abilities and potential.

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (Matt Miller, Bleacher Report)

Love is a big-armed, mobile, playmaking quarterback, but his 17 interceptions in 2019 are worrisome. Even if you account for his pressing to make something happen on a bad Utah State team—something many scouts believe—he still has to clean up his decision-making. That is why Love is perfect to sit and learn behind Brees before taking the job in 2021 or 2022.
Brady’s take: Another Saints-Love pairing and in my opinion, I think it’d be a solid pick. However, to get Love, the Saints would likely need to trade up because in all these mock drafts, there is no trading.

Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma (Bryan DeArdo, CBS Sports)

Brady’s take: This exercise was one that allowed trading, but DeArdo had the Saints standing back and picking a LB.

Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama (Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, PFF)

Xavier McKinney will get snaps right away but is a long-term succession plan to Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary. One of the most versatile players in the draft, McKinney had an 88.4 overall PFF grade in 2019.
Brady’s take: As mentioned, McKinney would serve in the Malcolm Jenkins role in the future, and for now, would need to be plugged in in various ways to take advantage of his coverage skills. McKinney is regarded as the best pure safety in the draft and should be a cornerstone for a franchise.

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU (Michael Renner, PFF)

After signing Emmanuel Sanders, New Orleans has arguably the most complete roster in the NFL. But A.J. Klein’s departure leaves a hole next to Demario Davis. Queen would be a vast improvement athletically, as the LSU linebacker ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the Combine.
Brady’s take: Renner actually did a three-round mock draft. His list of Saints’ picks.

1. Round 1: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

2. Round 3: Antonio Gibson, WR/RB, Memphis

Queen’s fit would be a good one in the Saints’ defense and to note, Jordan Love went a pick before to the Patriots in this mock. The third-round pick (the Saints’ second-round selection belongs to Miami in the Erik McCoy deal last year) is a versatile chess piece reminiscent to Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. Those backs were much more running back than receiver, but Gibson could be used in a similar fashion.

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated)

Sean Payton has said that the Saints were prepared to draft Patrick Mahomes if he got to pick No. 11 in 2017, so they’ve been poking around for a few years. With Brees likely having signed his last contract, Payton could seize the chance to begin developing a raw QB with unusual arm talent.

Brady’s take: Love to the Saints is a popular pick. Although as I mentioned before, they will likely have to trade up to get their guy.

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