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2023 Saints mock draft: Final predictions

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints

With the 2023 NFL Draft set to commence Thursday, New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis took time Wednesday to share some pre-draft insight with members of the media.

Loomis opened the press conference with a brief reflection on the changes that the league has seen since he took over general manager responsibilities in 2002 while giving kudos to the Saints’ scouting departments and the success they have had in previous drafts.

According to Loomis, the organization has utilized a formula concocted by assistant general manager and director of scouting Jeff Ireland for the past nine years, and “it has never been wrong.”

“One thing that hasn’t changed over the last few decades is if you draft well, you give yourself a chance,” Loomis said. “Jeff’s got a formula that’s never failed us in terms of the number of guys we should have.”

When asked about certain positions, players, and needs going into Thursday, Loomis was reluctant to discuss. However, he did take note of strong defensive line, tight end, and linebacker groups featured in this year’s class.

In regard to trading up, Loomis conveyed that under Ireland’s formula – unless there is a prospect the organization just feels like it has to have – the team usually keeps a board with the top five players for needed positions. Once the selection gets within three choices, more times than not one of their top choices is available.

“I feel good about the chances we have at (picks) 29 and 40, but after that, it’s a little more random,” Loomis continued. “In the formula, we go by percentages, and we know with No. 29, we are likely to get one of those.”

After listening to Loomis and spending the offseason studying the team’s needs going into the 2023 season, here is my final mock draft for the New Orleans Saints.

ROUND 1 (Pick 29): Michigan DT Mazi Smith

Standing at 6’3” and over 300 pounds, Smith was named first-team All-Big Ten as a senior primarily due to his run-stopping ability – something the Saints need plenty of help in.

If Smith isn’t available:

  • Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey
  • Clemson DT Bryan Bresee
  • Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness

ROUND 2 (Pick 40): Georgia TE Darnell Washington

At 6’7” and 260 pounds, Washington could serve as a nice complement to Juwan Johnson. Being 30 pounds heavier than Johnson, Washington’s ability to block could help set up different offensive schemes for the Saints.

If Washington isn’t available:

  • Iowa LB Jack Campbell
  • Clemson DE Myles Murphy
  • Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman

ROUND 3 (Pick 71): Tulane LB Dorian Williams

The Saints wouldn’t have to go far if they decided to draft Williams out of Tulane. Williams, who finished with 85 tackles and two interceptions as a senior, would provide much-needed depth for one of the team’s thinnest position groups.

If Williams isn’t available:

  • Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey
  • Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave
  • Ole Miss WR Jonathan Mingo

ROUND 4 (Pick 115): Ohio State DE Zach Harrison

Harrison has the potential and intangibles to be a star on the next level, but some concerns remain regarding a weak start to his senior season. Thanks to a strong second half, Harrison was named second-team All-Big Ten with a final stat line of 34 tackles (eight for loss), 3.5 sacks, one interception, four pass breakups, and three forced fumbles.

If Harrison isn’t available:

  • Tennessee LB Jeremy Banks
  • Wake Forest WR AT Perry
  • South Carolina DT Zacch Pickens

ROUND 5 (Pick 146): Illinois DB Jartavius Martin

ROUND 5 (Pick 165): Stanford WR Michael Wilson

ROUND 7 (Pick 227): Louisville RB Tiyon Evans

ROUND 7 (Pick 257 – Compensatory): TCU QB Max Duggan 

The 2023 NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 27 at 8/7c in Kansas City and can be watched on ESPN, ABC, or NFL Network.

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