The 2014 NFL Draft begins Thursday, May 8 and concludes Saturday, May 10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The first round starts at 7 p.m. May 8 with rounds 2 and 3 on May 9 that begins at 6 p.m. The NFL Draft finishes up May 10 with rounds 4-7 and starts at 11 am.
Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis says the team will "draft the best players available that fit our club." Basically, that means the Black and Gold will take the best player available, regardless of position, when it comes time for the Saints to pick. Great strategy — however, the Saints do have a few holes to fill on the roster. Here's what I feel are the most pressing positions the Saints need right now, in no particular order.
Lance Moore is gone. Marques Colston battled a sore foot all last season. Robert Meachem looks to have a lost a little bit or speed. Kenny Stills appears to be a very good draft pick, while Nick Toon appears to be just the opposite.
Good news though? Saints Wide Receivers Coach Henry Ellard helped the 2013 group of receivers to have the lowest "passes drops percentage" in the league last season. The Saints had a 2.3% rate - that's 15 dropped passes all season long with 644 targets.
Champ Bailey is a Saint, but can he stay healthy and revert back to his playing days from years ago? Patrick Robinson is coming off a season-ending patella knee injury. Corey White got beat in coverage a lot towards the end of the season.
Good news though? Keenan Lewis is one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Victor Butler is on the last year of his contract and did not play last season due to a torn ACL that he suffered when colliding with running back Mark Ingram. Keyunta Dawson is a journeyman player who if it wasn't for his forced fumble against Atlanta in week 12, the Saints may have lost. Parys Haralson is coming off a torn pectoral muscle he suffered against Philadelphia in the playoff game.
Good news though? Junior Galette looks to be the real deal after getting 12 sacks last season.
Second-year player player Tim Lelito is the starter by default at center, however I feel the team will eventually sign free agent Jonathan Goodwin at some point. Terron Armstead at left tackle is still young and could use some competition.
Good news though? Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans are possibly the best combination of guards in the NFL.
2014 Mock Draft
I reviewed a lot of online videos of NFL draft prospects and went through a legal pad or two of notes that I took on players also. That being said, here's my New Orleans Saints 2014 NFL mock draft.
Round 1 (27)
Jason Verrett - Cornerback, TCU
I struggled with this pick between Verrett and outside linebacker, Ryan Shazier. I feel that Shazier will not be around at the 27th pick, so I settled with Verretet. I feel makes the most sense here and also fits a position of need. Verrett is a bit on the small side at 5-9, 190 pounds, however he makes up for it by being very physical, aggressive scrappy and tough. He played with a torn meniscus and a torn labrum while at TCU. He was named co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds and always seems to be around the ball. Verrett is a very good player and the Saints also get good value here getting him towards the end of the first round, where he should go. Click here to read more about Mr. Verrett.
Round 2 (58)
Donte Moncrief - Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
This 6-2, 220 pound receiver is perfect for Drew Brees and the Saints offense. He's got excellent size and speed (40 yard dash, 4.40 seconds) and also played in a pass-happy offense the last two season at Ole Miss. He can and will make a lot of downfield plays. Think Robert Meachem in Sean Payton's offense his first couple of years and Kenny Stills last year. Extremely productive as evidenced by his 20 touchdowns and over 2,300 yards of receiving in his 3 years in Oxford.
Round 3 (91)
Trent Murphy - Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Stanford
In 4 seasons at Stanford, Murphy amasssed a total of 160 tackles and 32.5 sacks. His stock drops to the 3rd round because of the "tweener" label - meaning his size of 6-5, 250 pounds isn't strong enough for defensive end and doesn't have the necessary speed to play outside linebacker. I feel that you can call him whatever you want as just a football player and he makes play after play after play.
Round 4 (126)
Aaron Murray - Quarterback, Georgia
My surprise pick of the draft for the Saints. I really like Aaron Murray and he drops to the fourth round because of his size and he's also coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in the Bulldogs final regular season game against Georgia Tech. His size, 6-1 and 207 pounds, is small in the NFL world, however Murray is another guy who just makes plays. He tossed for over 13,000 yards and for 121 touchdowns in his four years at Georgia. He played in a pro-style offense under Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt. There's no rush to play him as he can continue to recover from his injury and learn the offense, while competing with former Tulane player, Ryan Griffin.
Round 5 (167)
Charles Leno - Offensive Tackle, Boise State
Leno was a good solid player at Boise State. He played both left and right tackle, so he has experience on either side of the quarterback. Flexibility is what Sean Payton loves also. With Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans at guard, Terron Armstead and Zach Strief at tackle, Leno will provide additional depth at tackle and over time with the Saints strength program, can move inside and play guard.
Round 5 (169)
Dri Archer - Running Back, Kent State
He'll be known as Darren Sproles' replacement, however he really is a playmaker galore. In only 21 starts in college, Archer compiled nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns. Yes, that's 40 touchdowns in only 21 starts. The breakdown for those scores are: 24 rushing, 12 receiving and four kickoff returns.
Round 6 (202)
Donta Johnson - Defensive Back, North Carolina State
Johnson has played cornerback, free safety, nickel back & on special teams. He can provide some depth at defensive back and serve as a special teams contributor.
The Saints don't posses a seventh round draft pick this season as it was traded to San Francisco for linebacker Parys Haralson.
That concludes my Saints 2014 mock draft. What do you think? Leave your comments below and let me know whom you believe the Black and Gold will take in the draft.