The New Orleans Saints are likely to make further changes in the offseason of 2023. This is especially true given the number of roster spots still available on their depth chart. Of course, they can do so through the draft. Here we’ll look at which rookie prospects the Saints will draft with each of their picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Saints have eight draft picks for the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. They have a first-round pick obtained from the Denver Broncos in exchange for head coach Sean Payton’s rights. However, they don’t have their own first-round pick because they traded it to the Philadelphia Eagles last year. This exchange included the 18th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, as well as New Orleans’ first-round pick in 2023 and a second-round pick in 2024.
Despite a tumultuous 2022 season, which saw injuries to key players and new coaching personnel, the Saints finished with a 7-10 record. They just narrowly missed a playoff spot. During the entire 2023 offseason, the team remains in transition. They are expected to address several positions to bolster their chances of competing for a division title in the weak NFC South. With the 2023 NFL Draft approaching, the Saints have an opportunity to add impactful players to their roster. If the Saints do so, they should bounce back from their disappointing 2022 season.
Let’s look at who the Saints will choose in the 2023 NFL Draft.
New Orleans Saints: 2023 NFL Mock Draft
1st round 29th overall pick: EDGE Nolan Smith
With the 29th overall pick in the first round, the Saints should draft EDGE Nolan Smith. Despite bringing back Cameron Jordan, the Saints have lost Trey Hendrickson and Marcus Davenport to free agency in recent offseasons. Smith has high upside as a situational producer. He should also settle into a regular role at the edge for defensive-minded Dennis Allen. A freak producer and quick-twitch athlete, Smith is undersized but plays much bigger than his size. He will need to improve in pass coverage, but he has the frame to add weight at the next level.
Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith demolishes the right tackle for the sack.
— WBG84 (@WBG84) April 9, 2023
2nd round 40th overall pick: DT Calijah Kancey
In the second round with the 40th overall pick, the Saints should choose OT Calijah Kancey. The loss of David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle to division rivals makes Kancey the ideal style of tackle for NOLA. Despite being short and undersized, Kancey is an electric upfield rusher with ultra twitchy movements. His pass-rush move arsenal includes the arm over, swipe, and rip. He also constantly battles and fights to make the most of the rep. Although length is a clear issue, Kancey’s power is deceptive due to his low center of gravity. His counters are also super-quick. He should be a pure one-gap penetrator who is not too concerned with size deficiency.
3rd round 71st overall pick: S Ji’Ayir Brown
In the third round of the draft, the Saints should pick safety Ji’Ayir Brown. Brown is known for his impressive ball production over the past couple of years and his ability to play downhill in run support. He is a high-energy player, and his teammates feed off that energy.
4th round 115th overall pick: RB Tyjae Spears
The Saints should go for running back Tyjae Spears in the fourth round. Spears is a powerful ball-carrier who can make big plays due to his short-area quickness and top-end acceleration. He has a low center of gravity, allowing him to run with a lot of power despite his size. He will add depth to the Saints’ backfield.
5th round 146th overall pick: OL Olusegun Oluwatimi
In the fifth round, the Saints should select Olusegun Oluwatimi. He is a center known for his refined, powerful one-on-one blocking skills. He has great hand work, constantly working to gain the upper hand with his hand positioning. Oluwatimi also has a strong anchor and rarely ends up on the ground. While he may not be an athletic, nimble player, he has plenty of length for the position and is a very refined blocker. He should excel in a system that doesn’t require him to move around in space too frequently.
5th round 165th overall pick: OT Warren McClendon
Warren McClendon should be the Saints’ 165th overall pick here. He demonstrates good hand adjustment during engagement and has active eyes. These allow him to pick up loopers and blocking angles. If he adds a bit more mass to his frame, he’d be a really good OT for New Orleans.
7th round 227th overall pick: TE Noah Gindorff
Noah Gindorff is a better run blocker than pass-catcher. That’s thanks to his experience in a run-heavy offense. He excels at driving his feet on contact and finishing blocks. Gindorff’s top-end speed is below average, but he has good size for his position. He also has a knack for finding open spots in zone coverage.
7th round 257th overall pick: WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton
Bryce Ford-Wheaton is a tall, somewhat physical wide receiver who specializes in vertical/fade and jump-ball plays. He uses his physicality and deceptive wiggle to beat press coverage. Despite lacking the lateral agility/twitch usually required, he sells his routes well with head/shoulder fakes. For-Wheaton can be a niche-type player who has good size, sneaky-good route intricacy, and speed.