It’s Draft Day and college football expert and NFL draft guru Mike Detilier fielded questions about who will be the first player off the board, where the Saints front office will likely go with their pick, a questionable late round move in last year’s draft, and which LSU Tiger will be the first selected.
1) You have Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence going first overall. Why didn’t the college playoff game hurt his stock?
Well, I never grade a player on one game but his overall body of work.
Lawrence has been a signature player in college football the past three seasons and he’s a guy who has never lost a high school or college regular season game.
Lawrence did have two losses in post season, one to LSU and one to Ohio State but he’s got all the physical and mental traits I want in a quarterback.
I just hope Jacksonville builds a good offensive line around him to help protect him.
Trevor Lawrence is a star performer.
2) You have five quarterbacks going in the first round. Do you consider this a relatively deep draft for signal callers?
It’s a good class with five top quarterbacks, a really good class of quarterbacks.
The field is solid later on with guys like Kyle Trask of Florida, Kellen Mond of Texas A&M, Davis Mills of Stanford, and Ian Book of Notre Dame.
I really like what I saw from the development of Feleipe Franks at Arkansas last season.
Not all those guys are starter types, but some will be strong back-ups in the league.
Certainly Trevor and Zach Wilson are the leaders of the pack, but both are going to bad teams and they will need to be protected or they are going to get hurt.
Mac Jones had a great season at Alabama last year and Justin Fields and Trey Lance are also really good prospects.
The back three may have the most success because the talent around them is better than what Lawrence and Wilson will have around them.
Justin is a really good player and he’s being knocked on for the most ridiculous reasons by folks that don’t know him and haven’t watched his body of work. It’s a really good class.
3) The Cincinnati Bengals have the fifth overall pick and LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is likely to be available. Do you think Joe Burrow will lobby the head office to be reunited with him?
Ja’Marr is the highest ranked wide receiver I have ever scouted at LSU, even higher than Odell Beckham, Jr., Jarvis Landry, Justin Jefferson, and Michael Clayton, but Cincy needs to keep Joe Burrow healthy.
I know Joe is lobbying for Chase and I would too if I am in his shoes, but he has to understand he can’t throw the ball from the turf.
Penie Sewell would be the pick for me. He’s just 20 years old and he has not given up a quarterback sack in 1,376 snaps over two seasons.
I think the world of Ja’Marr, but I would pick Penei. I have to protect my franchise quarterback.
4) It looks like due to cuts related to the salary cap and the trouble Marshon Lattimore got into in Ohio the Saints are almost forced to use their first selection on the best cornerback available. Do you agree with that and who do you think the Saints’ options will be?
No question cornerback is the biggest need area for the Saints as they’re paper thin.
And you need multiple players there if it is through the draft or free agency or a trade. But yes, cornerback is the biggest need spot and the Saints may have to trade up to assure themselves of one of the top cornerbacks. Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn are top 15 picks and so where Greg Newsome II and Caleb Farley land will be key and due to the back surgery
Farley may drop into the late teens or early 20’s.
But there is also a group after those top 4 that I think will all go in Round Two in Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes of Georgia, Ifeatu Melifonwu-Syracuse and Aaron Robinson of UCF, Kelvin Joseph, a former LSU player now at Kentucky, Elijah Molden of Washington (Alex Molden’s son), and certainly Asante Samuel, Jr. of Florida State. It’s a good year at cornerback.
5) The largest position group you have going in the first round are wide receivers, as you have six projected to be selected. If LSU wideout Terrace Marshall were to remain on the board when the Saints pick, is there a chance Airline Drive would grab him?
I do think the Saints will pick a wide out, but I think later on in the draft.
Cornerback and linebacker and maybe even the right defensive tackle would be more pressing for them, but I see them picking a wide receiver and early.
Terrace Marshall, Jr., is a 1st round talent, no question about it, but there are concerns about his injury list.
He got hurt as a senior in high school and as a freshman and sophomore at LSU. Last season Terrace was a stud player for LSU. He has size, length, good run after catch skills and he is so good in contested-throw situations in coming down with the ball. I have him projected to go late in Round 1, but not to the Saints. I knew his uncle well, the late Joe Delaney. Just a super guy in life and a great player. He was on those Northwestern State (LA.) teams with Bobby Hebert, Coach O, Gary Reasons and Mark Duper.
6) After cornerback what would the Saints next draft priority position would be to address?
Linebacker would draw up for me because other than Demario Davis you have no one else with anything on the football resume other than veteran Craig Robertson, who is mainly a backup and special teams guy.
I would like for them to bring back Kwon Alexander and he is doing well with his rehab, but linebacker would stick out to me, but I have heard Sean Payton speak about offensive line depth and at tight end-so he’s telling you something when he speaks that way.
Defensive tackle is another spot for me I would consider a need position particularly with the trade of Malcolm Brown to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
7) In last year’s draft the Saints traded a future sixth round pick to get Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens, who the team cut and is now on the Carolina Panthers’ roster. Why did the front office make this decision?
That’s a Sean Payton decision. He had a vision of Tommy Stevens as a Taysom Hill-type QB, wide receiver, and special teams guy.
Tommy was never a super accurate quarterback at Penn State or at Mississippi State, but he was a top athlete and Payton felt he was a good fit player for the Saints.
It didn’t work out and Stevens is reunited with Joe Brady and the Carolina Panthers.
Joe coached him at Penn State. Interesting athlete, but he’s not a future fulltime quarterback anywhere but he’s a situational player as a running quarterback and can throw the ball occasionally off the waggle plays.
Stevens can play wide receiver or flex tight end and he was a defensive back in high school so he can play on special teams.
He just didn’t work out here in New Orleans. It was a vision of a player who didn’t work out for the Saints, but that’s a Sean Payton decision to get Tommy Stevens.