The 2023 NFL Draft will be held in Kansas City, Missouri with the first round kicking off on April 27th. With the news of the Sean Payton trade occurring earlier in the week, New Orleans now secures a late first round draft pick. Originally the Saints were out without a first round draft pick by trading up in last year’s draft to select rookie wide receiver Chris Olave in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. New Orleans will make seven selections for this year’s upcoming draft. Check out below the first version of the Saints Mock Draft:
Round 1, Pick 29 (from DEN via MIA and SF): B.J. Ojulari, Edge, LSU
The Saints pass rush needs attention heading into the 2023 season and B.J. Ojulari is the perfect fit in order to fill that void. Ojulari has shown that he can be a versatile defender playing both defensive end and linebacker throughout his career at LSU. The Marietta, Georgia native showed his explosiveness off the edge with his athleticism and he can be very disruptive in the defending against the rush. In his final year with the Tigers, Ojulari registered 58 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, one fumble forced and one fumble recovery.
Round 2, Pick 40: Calijah Kancey, Defense Tackle, Pittsburgh
New Orleans’ four defensive tackles will all be headed to free agency and the Saints are in need of better production out of this group. Calijah Kancey is an absolute menace on the interior with his burst off the line and the quickness that he uses with his hands. In his final season with Pittsburgh, Kancey racked up 31 total tackles and seven sacks.
Round 3, Pick 71: Hendon Hooker, Quarterback, Tennessee
The Saints biggest concern heading into the offseason will be at the quarterback position as Jameis Winston has dealt with a stint of injuries and Andy Dalton will be a free agent in the spring. New Orleans uses their third round pick to lock up a potential quarterback for the future in Hendon Hooker. Hooker’s draft stock has took a hit after a torn ACL injury he suffered against South Carolina, but he still has the intangibles to be great at the next level. He has shown his ability to get the ball down the field and he is also an impressive runner. In the 2022 season before the injury, Hooker posted 3,135 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. He added 420 rushing yards with five touchdowns.
Round 4, Pick 112: Tyjae Spears, Running Back, Tulane
New Orleans went throw a plethora of running backs in the 2022 season with Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Tony Jones Jr., Dwayne Washington, Latavius Murray, Eno Benjamin and Jordan Howard taking snaps throughout the season. With a potential Kamara multi-game suspension looming, the Saints are in need of depth at the running back position. New Orleans takes Tyjae Spears in the fourth round in order to solve that issue. Spears is a dynamic athlete coming out of the backfield and his explosiveness allows him to reach the second level. In his final year with Tulane, Spears rushed for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns. He would add 256 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Round 5, Pick 143: Charlie Jones, Wide Receiver, Purdue
The Saints saw their two rookie wide receivers, Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed show what they are capable of during the 2022 season. Even with that there are question marks on whether Michael Thomas will be with the team heading into the next season and Jarvis Landry will be a free agent this sprint. New Orleans uses the first of two fifth-round picks to scoop up Charlie Jones. Jones is a natural playmaker and he is consistently become a possession target. Throughout his collegiate career he has become a major threat in the middle of the field. During the 2022 season, Jones hauled in 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Round 5, Pick 163: Chandler Zavala, Offensive Guard, NC State
With Andrus Peat injury concerns in the last few years and his unavailability to play a full 17-game regular season, the Saints could use some depth on the offensive line. New Orleans adds offensive guard Chandler Zavala with their second pick in the fifth round. Zavala was very effective as a run blocker during his collegiate career. In the 2022 season with NC State, Zavala registered 31 pancake blocks and allowed just 0.5 sacks in 747 snaps this year.
Round 7, Pick 205: Gervarrius Owens, Safety, Houston
Similar to the offensive line injury concerns, Marcus Maye missed half of the season due to injuries. New Orleans wraps up the 2023 NFL Draft by taking Gervarrius Owens in the seven round. Owens brings a physical edge in contact situations and has great foot speed. During his last year with Houston, Owens registered 74 total tackles, two fumbles forced, one fumble recovery and one interception.
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