Written By Troy Brashear Jr.
I am, by no means, a professional sports analyst. I have a very casual knowledge of sports but I do consider myself as a Saints fan. With the 2020 NFL Draft finally here, I decided to do my own mock draft for my favorite team.
Entering Thursday, the New Orleans Saints only have five draft picks: a 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and a 6th round pick. We don’t have many so we have to be extra careful with our selections. We can’t pick with our hearts, we have to pick with our heads.
There are a few caveats before I dive into my picks. Like I said before, I’m not an expert, but I didn’t just select players randomly, I still used thought and watched game day footage of my picks and the players I also considered for those picks. I also drafted in a way that I believe Sean Payton would draft. What that means is throughout Payton’s career as the Saint’s head coach he rarely drafts LSU players. The only LSU prospects drafted under Sean Payton’s reign were Al Woods in the 4th round of the 2010 draft and Will Clapp in the 7th round of the 2018 draft.
I also did not watch highlights or look up combine stats. Highlight videos only show good plays, whereas game footage shows every snap, even when the play doesn’t directly involve them or the ball isn’t thrown or run in their direction. Do they still do their job? How do they observe and react? These are the things I look for.
No. 24 – Cesar Ruiz, C-G
With the 24th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select Cesar Ruiz, center from Michigan. So this one was a little weird for me. My original target for the first-round pick was Andrew Thomas, tackle from Georgia, but unfortunately he was drafted before us. I do not remember which team drafted him, I didn’t save it. Once our pick rolled up, most of my next options were taken as well. I know many Saints fans want us to draft Patrick Queen, which I have no issue with and I would hope that coach would draft him with no regards to where he played college ball, but Queen was also selected before us. My last option for our 1st rounder was Cesar Ruiz or Kenneth Murray, linebacker out of Oklahoma. Murray was originally my choice for our first-round pick, but there was some new information that made me change my mind, I’ll get to that later. I chose Ruiz because he is an interior lineman. He’s listed as a center but he can also play guard which is what we need. He’s a large, sturdy lineman, but is also super mobile for his size, which is great since defensive linemen are becoming more agile and quick to get to the quarterback. From the footage that I watched from him, I noticed that he was reasonably patient. My pipe dream is if Tristan Wirfs somehow falls back to us. I know it’s not going to happen, but a guy could dream.
No. 88 – Josiah Scott, CB
With the 88th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select Josiah Scott, cornerback from Michigan State. This is where things get fuzzy for me because we are leaving the top prospect zone and anything can happen here, but I went with cornerback because as any Saints fan knows, our secondary is maybe our weakest spot especially with corners. Although Lattimore is a stud, our acquisition of Janoris Jenkins is one of the best things that happened to us in a while and CJ Gardner-Johnson has the potential to be great, I don’t want to take any chances with too many blown coverages this season especially with Tampa Bay getting Tom Brady under center. My options for this pick only consisted of cornerbacks. The highest-ranked corner at this point in my mock draft was from Notre Dame, which is a red flag right there. I don’t even remember his name. When I watched footage of him, he got beat by his receiver on most snaps, he couldn’t break free of a block to save his life and he looked like he was scared to tackle. I just googled his name, it’s Troy Pride Jr. The other two best looking prospects were Josiah Scott and Amik Robertson. Robertson, out of Louisiana Tech, had good instinct but his coverage left something to be desired, but at least he was not afraid to tackle, but Scott really stuck out to me. His coverage was great for as far back as he fell in this draft. It was nowhere near Lattimore or Jenkins level, but it was good for what it was. He actually covered at a Gardner-Johnson level, but what really stood out to me was how aggressive he played. He was tenacious, fearless, shed his blocks, and was a solid tackler, even in the open field.
No. 130 – Anfernee Jennings, EDGE
With the 130th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select Anfernee Jennings, linebacker from Alabama. This is the man that made me reconsider Kenneth Murray. Anfernee has been listed as playing inside linebacker and outside. Although he played edge at Alabama, he has skills and the size to play on the inside. He is listed as 6’2” 252lbs. He’s a big boy with a great tackle radius and is very aware of the field. He has flaws such as that he is not that explosive or quick, but that can be trained. With the right coaching, I think this guy could be a threat in the run defense. But if we are able to get Murray in the first round I could sleep at night. Maybe we could wait on that offensive lineman and grab one at the later round that can play both guard and tackle like I originally wanted.
No. 169 – Isaiah Hodgins, WR
With 169th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select Isaiah Hodgins, receiver from Oregon State. I gave myself some leeway with this pick because Thomas and Sanders are going to hold things down at his position, with Cook who is a solid pass-catching tight end. I’m just not as concerned with the WR position as many of my peers. Hodgins stuck out to me because he’s a taller WR. I personally like taller wide receivers more, but I do understand the benefits of the shorter and quicker receivers that make amazing deep threats and can run those short routes more efficiently. Hodgins is strangely graceful for a taller guy. I want him to hit the weights as soon as he can. He’s a little too lanky, but he has a solid route-running ability for his size and he has solid hands. Although he is scrappy and isn’t afraid to be physical, he needs to work on his explosiveness and be a little more aggressive coming off of the line and strength training could help with catching in traffic. He doesn’t need to be reckless but he definitely needs to go after it more.
No. 203 – Jacob Breeland, TE
With the 203rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select Jacob Breeland, tight end from Oregon. Blocking. This kid can block. He makes smart blocks and can keep his defender busy or leaves him on the ground. His catching ability is solid in the open field. I didn’t see any footage of him having to catch in traffic but he’s a bit of a bruiser so I don’t imagine that would be an issue. His route running needs to be a little more refined. His cuts are a little too slow for the professional level. It would be nice to have a trustworthy tight end who can catch the ball opposite Cook. Don’t get me wrong, I love Josh Hill, but I’ve seen him drop too many balls that should have been caught. I don’t trust him on every snap. I sometimes cringe a little when I see the ball going in his direction, but I still love him because he’s made some crucial catches that we’ve needed but on the same coin he’s dropped his fair share of crucial passes as well.