Saints 2022 Pre-Draft Visits – Sports Illustrated New Orleans Saints News, Analysis and More

The New Orleans Saints have several positions to fill in this month’s NFL Draft. New Orleans currently has a total of seven selections, including two first-round picks and four top-100 picks.

NFL teams have several opportunities to see prospects and develop their scouting information. The Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Days are opportunities for all teams to see players in a general environment, with the opportunity to conduct private interviews.

Teams were also allowed to conduct up to 30 pre-project visits with prospects. These are opportunities to bring potential draft picks into the facility and conduct more in-depth interviews, training, and medical evaluations.

Here are the prospects the Saints have brought in for official visits or had private training with this offseason.

STRATEGIST

  • Matt Corral (Mississippi)
  • Sam Howell (North Carolina)
  • EJ Perry (Brown)
  • Kenny PickettPitt
  • Malik Willis (Freedom)

Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral (2) against LSU. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas – USA TODAY Sports

Four of those players are potential first-round picks. The Saints also interviewed Pitt’s Kenny Pickett at the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine. Pickett and Willis are the two heaviest favorites to be the first quarterback selected.

There’s a wide range of speculation about where this year’s quarterback class will be drafted. It’s also possible that one of those callers will drop in the second round, where the Saints pick 49th overall.

New Orleans has only used a first-round pick on a quarterback once in franchise history. It was Archie Manning in 1971. Manning and Garrett Grayson (2015) are the only two quarterbacks to be drafted before the fourth round in the team’s 55-year history.

WIDE RECEIVER

  • Treylon Burks (Arkansas)
  • Danny Gray (EMS)
  • Skyy Moore (Western Michigan)
  • Tyquan Thornton (Baylor)
  • Jameson Williams (Alabama)
Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) passes LSU defensive back Darren Evans (24).  Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) passes LSU defensive back Darren Evans (24). Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Wideout is a huge need for New Orleans to enter the draft. It is considered a deep draft at this position, with up to six players able to enter in the first round. Despite an ACL injury, Williams might be the most explosive playmaker in the group.

Burks, raw but athletic, is another first-round prospect. Moore is a rising talent who could drop out of the picture in the second round. Thornton is an inexperienced wide with rare athleticism that could be a Day 3 steal.

New Orleans had a long interview with Ohio State’s Chris Olave at the Scouting Combine. Olave could be the first receiver selected if Jameson Williams isn’t. The Saints also interviewed several other wide players during Combine and Pro Days.

TO COME BACK

  • Trestan Ebner (Baylor)
  • Haasan Hawkins (Michigan)
  • Keaontay Ingram (USC)
  • Dameon Pierce (Florida)
  • Brian Robinson (Alabama)
Florida running back Dameon Pierce (27) runs against Georgia.  Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Florida running back Dameon Pierce (27) runs against Georgia. Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Pierce is an explosive fullback who makes plays in space or between tackles. Robinson is a hitter between tackles with pass-catching ability as a control option.

Both backs are likely Day 2 selections who could slip into the 4th round. Pierce will likely be the first of two players selected.

Alvin Kamara is facing a possible suspension after a February arrest in Las Vegas and 11-year-old veteran Mark Ingram has plenty of mileage. This creates an underestimated need for the Saints here.

TIGHT END

Maryland tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo (9) heads the ball as Michigan State linebacker Noah Harvey (45) chases it.  Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller - USA TODAY Sports

Maryland tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo (9) heads the ball as Michigan State linebacker Noah Harvey (45) chases it. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller – USA TODAY Sports

– Isaiah Likely (Coastal Carolina)

-Chig Okonkwo (Maryland)

A raw yet athletic draft, Okonkwo is a Day 3 prospect who has won over scouts with his physical traits.

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OFFENSIVE LINE

– Braxton Jones (Southern Utah)

– Jamaree Salyer (Georgia)

– Zach Tom (Wake Forest)

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

  • Eric Johnson (Missouri State)
  • Jayden Peevy (Texas A&M)
Missouri State defensive lineman Eric Johnson (93) hits Oklahoma State running back LD Brown (0).  Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY

Missouri State defensive lineman Eric Johnson (93) hits Oklahoma State running back LD Brown (0). Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY

An FCS star rising to the NFL draft boards, Johnson is a big disruptive inside defender. He is expected to be a mid-round selection.

The Saints are looking for more internal disturbances to link up with DT David Onyemata. It’s a position the team can approach much sooner than expected.

LINEBACKER

  • Christian Harris (Alabama)
  • Jeremiah Moon (Florida)
  • Chad Muma (Wyoming)
Alabama linebacker Christian Harris (8) pressures Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) during the 2021 College Football Playoff semifinals. Gary Cosby Jr./USA TODAY NETWORK

Alabama linebacker Christian Harris (8) pressures Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) during the 2021 College Football Playoff semifinals. Gary Cosby Jr./USA TODAY NETWORK

Harris could be another in a long line of Crimson Tide linebackers making an impact on the NFL. He’s an athletic defensive back who plays with a clear conscience despite his inexperience in the position. He could be selected until the second round.

Moon primarily played defensive end in Florida. However, he has terrific athleticism and adequate range for a linebacker conversion. He will have to overcome his inexperience and injury history, but scouts agree he has a huge advantage.

New Orleans has All-Pro LB Demario Davis and 2021 second-round pick Pete Werner making plays on the second tier of defense. However, athletic veteran Kwon Alexander remains unsigned, leaving the Saints slim in that position.

DEFENSIVE BACK

  • Andrew Booth, BC (Clemson)
  • Kalon Barnes, BC (Baylor)
  • Samuel Womack, BC (Toledo)
  • JT Woods, S (Baylor)
Baylor cornerback Kalon Barnes (12) breaks up a pass to TCU wide receiver Blair Conwright (22).  Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor cornerback Kalon Barnes (12) breaks up a pass to TCU wide receiver Blair Conwright (22). Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Booth is one of a handful of turns that should be off the charts on night one. He has outstanding coverage ability to go along with impressive ball skills. Barnes is an elite athlete who is extremely raw in this position. He is a likely Day 3 pick.

The Saints are placed around the corner with elite Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore, rising star Paulson Adebo and experienced starter Bradley Roby.

Booth would be a surprise pick, but would be a great addition if he’s the best player available. Barnes has intriguing athleticism and could be a late flight as a development draft and special teams contributor.

Of note, the Saints didn’t have a pre-draft visit with one of the best offensive tackles following the loss of Terron Armstead as a free agent. A tight end position that was among the weakest in the NFL can also be addressed. New Orleans worked on talented Coastal Carolina TE Isaiah Likely at the combine.

The 2022 NFL Draft will take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas.

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