Finally. After many months and countless weeks of anticipation, the Opening Night of the 2018 NFL Draft has arrived for your New Orleans Saints.
When the draft officially gets underway beginning at 8 p.m. EST at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, the Saints won't be picking until the 27th overall selection; and as of this very moment, no one — not even any of the so-callled analysts and "experts" — have any idea just who the Saints might pick.
However, we believe the Saints organization does likely have a "short list" of names that they plan on targeting tonight, and here are a few to remember when the Saints are "on the clock".......
A FEW POSSIBLE TRADE-UP POSSIBILITIES
Last night on the Saints News Network-produced "Bayou Blitz Radio Show" hosted by Canal Street Chronicles writer Bob Rose, special guest and well-respected WWL TV & 870 AM Radio NFL Draft analyst Mike Detillier told listeners to remember these two names as potential "trade-up" possibilities should either player be within close range / proximity of the 27th pick: University of Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan and Boston College EDGE pass rusher Harold Landry (click HERE to listen).
The other day, Saints general manger Mickey Loomis told reporters that they still have “must” positions they have to fill before the start of the season — including a sixth offensive lineman and a “pressure player,” which could either be an edge rusher or defensive tackle.
Detillier believes that if either Bryan or Landry are close enough to where the Saints wouldn't have to give up too much draft capital to a willing team to make a deal, they will make a move for one or the other player.
"I believe if they decide to trade up, it'll be for one of two players: it's either for Harold Landry, or Taven Bryan. I think "worst-case scenario", they see Atlanta picking right ahead of them (at #26), and they (the Saints) have done a lot of work on Taven".
"Of all of the defensive tackles in this class, I believe he has the best pass-rush ability, from an NFL standpoint. Because it's so hard in today's game to get the EDGE guys, you've got a find a guy who can "push" the inside pocket.
"So, I could see them moving up for either player, just so long as it's not a "hard" move — where they'd be asked to give up way too much in return".
"I think if there's a trade-up, it would be for a "front-line" defensive player (that likely can play immediately as a rookie), and that's either Landry or Bryan".
THE "SAFE PICK" TO MAKE AT #27
Assuming that the Saints don't trade up, here's another two names to remember because both players would be considered the "safe pick" for the Saints to make if they stay at #27: Georgia offensive lineman Isiah Wynn, and Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard.
Wynn would perfectly fit the Saints' standard of versatility for their O-Linemen, since he can play tackle, guard, and even at center if need be; and he's one of the more technically sound players at the position in this year's class.
And given that the team just lost the veteran in Free Agency that fit that description with former Saint and now Houston Texans offensive lineman Senio Kelemete, it would be very easy to see the Saints make that pick.
Wynn is certainly qualified to ease any O-Line depth concerns for the Saints, given that he is expected to play guard in the NFL: although the 6-foot-2, 305 pounder did play tackle for the Bulldogs at times and did so extremely well.
He’s athletic enough to pull and get out on the edge as a guard or center, although Georgia tried making him the man in the middle prior to his sophomore year but then elected to go a different route.
Named a 2nd-team All American by the AFCA in 2017, Wynn is well respected by his teammates and coaches for consistent effort and intensity as well as his leadership ability.
Canal Street Chronicles NFL Draft Analyst Walter "Deuce" Windham says that Wynn has efficient and accurate placement of hands which allows him to get inside the pads of an oncoming defender, and his feet are always constantly moving and driving forward.
Additionally, Windham says that Wynn's ability to initially evaluate and mentally process what opposing defenses are about to do schematically right before the snap of the football, is on par with any O-Lineman in this year's class.
It's those type of traits along with his notable versatility, which the Saints organization places a very high value on; and it's the whole reason why you shouldn't be surprised one bit if Wynn gets the call to come down to NOLA at #27.
Meanwhile, Hubbard certainly would fit their desire for a "pressure player"; and although he isn't nearly as flashy as a Harold Landry, he is looked upon as a still-developing player that hasn't reached his full potential yet; and his true value at the moment is that he is ready to play right away for teams that are looking for someone able to both blitz and keep containment on the outside.
WWL's Detillier says that Hubbard is not the best athlete or big-time workout defensive end in the 2018 draft class, but you should watch his hustle, instincts to get to the right spot and his disruptive nature out on the football field.
Additionally, Hubbard is an excellent technician with his hands, is quick off the snap and has been used inside in Ohio State’s “NASCAR” package to get the best four pass rushers on the field.
And as Detillier notes: we all know about Payton’s love for Ohio State players, and Hubbard plays all out on each and every snap.
Bottom line: either player "fits" what the Saints are looking for, and as Detillier notes: the NFL — and specifically the teams within the NFC such as the Saints, Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Falcons and Panthers — are all in an "arms race", and the emphasis is being placed along the offensive and defensive lines specifically.
All the more reason for Saints fans to remember a few of these names, when they make their first pick (presumably) at #27 tonight, on the Opening Night of the 2018 NFL Draft.................