Seems like April always rolls around and my projected Team Mocks are racing against the clock, even while NFL teams are still reshaping their rosters thru the Vet Free Agency period. This creates problems for predicting how a team will shape their Draft choices to fit holes in their roster. And do not kid yourself. More than ever, teams are drafting for need ahead of “best available”. They have to, because most of today’s owners are too trigger happy to draft great athletes to sit on the bench for very long, if at all. Then you take into account the “hard” Salary Cap that the League operates under. Those draftees need to see the field asap before they become too expensive to keep in 3-5 years. You get the picture. So here we go for another year of team mocks.
Please keep in mind that I am trying to fill out roster needs, while weighing my value for the prospects involved. I am also still averse to making trades within the Draft. So based on today’s picking order, away we go. Let’s start with the teams having the fewest Picks to exercise. After each players height and weight, I have included my number ranking for each player.
Round 1, Pick 24 J.K. DOBBINS RB Ohio State 5’10/209 (PP#26) I am still of the opinion that the VFA loss last year of RB Mark Ingram really set their running game back in 2019. Alvin Kamara is the key weapon, but he’s not a 20+ carry-the-ball RB. And Murray, though useful, is not explosive. DOBBINS actually reminds me quite a bit of the departed Ingram, in his size and running style. He should give them some between the tackles 10-15 yard runs, and also serve capably on 3rd and short. DOBBINS ran for just over 2,000-yards last season, and also caught 23 balls. He totaled 23 TD’s total for the season. They need to run the ball more this year to take even more pressure off of Brees and Kamara.
Round 3, Pick 88 TROY DYE LB Oregon 6’3/231 (PP#90) DYE spent the latter months of the season, and Draft prep time, with a big club on his hand/wrist area. This limited his stat sheet, but did not hide what an aggressive, productive athlete he is. He can provide pass rush, as well as drop into coverage. The Saints LB group is in need of some depth and youth. A healthy DYE should provide them with some of each. He’s a true LB for today’s NFL, and can handle work inside or out.
Round 4, Pick 130 KINDLE VILDOR CB Georgia Southern 5-10/191 (PP#131) VILDOR will face the size question every week in the NFL, but they cannot question his general feistiness and basic cover skills. He should battle for the starting Nickel-Corner job as a Rookie. He won’t have to be asked to play up tight and support against the run. That seems to be in his DNA already. He handled himself well at the Senior Bowl in January and posted some solid numbers at the Combine. His 32 1/4″ arms are a nice plus for a 5’10 CB. There are not enough 6′ CB’s to go around in the NFL, so a talented, undersized guy has a chance to play. VILDOR is such a guy.
Round 5, Pick 169 HAKEEM ADENIJI OG Kansas 6’4/302 (PP#172) ADENIJI handled a job at OT for the Jayhawks, but his size and frame are much better suited for OG in the NFL. He is a natural knee bender and more athletic than your average interior OL. At worst, he might be able to back up your entire OL on game day. His 82 3/8″ wingspan is very impressive. His 34″ vertical at the Combine certainly would indicate explosion in his lower body. He should be very effective in a pulling role in the run game.
Round 6, Pick 203 FREDDIE SWAIN WR/RS Florida 6’0/197 (PP#222) The Saints signed VFA Emmanuel Sanders, but they still need more depth in their receiving group. SWAIN was underutilized in the Gators system, in part because of a very deep talent pool at the position on their roster. He is also adept at Special Teams work. With intensive work and coaching, SWAIN could be a more productive player as a pro than he was in college. He could be a high value player for a 6th Round Pick.
DOBBINS would be the highlight of this Draft effort, as a first rounder should be. However, the other 4 guys can contribute right away as Rookies and some could develop into starters in a year or two. They should all be keepers with upside.