The thirty-second (and final) pick in the inaugural edition of the Cincy Jungle Mock Draft is provided by FriarBob, selecting for the New Orleans Saints. My explanation for the pick is after the jump.
But first, I would like to extend a collective thank you to everybody who participated in this draft. You all know who you are, but I'll go on ahead and give you all a shout-out again anyway. Here was our roster (in alphabetical order) for this draft: 80%OFTHETIMEIMRIGHTEVERYTIME, alexneyer, BengalnLogan, Bernie19Kosar, BlitzAway, FriarBob, FSUBengal, HanoverWhoDey, indesignkat, Jaegner, James Schmid the great, jaydolla, jim0ijk, JohnnyK, Kabash, momma rollett, Monkey Poop Battle, Mr MaLoR, Mr. NC-17, NextWhodey, patrick6h, and The Dealio. Without your support this would have gone nowhere fast, as it is we were able to complete the entire first round (barely) before the real draft after all. I hope all of you had fun with this and that we will all be able to do it again next year. I also want to make sure to thank Kirkendall for giving me the chance to run it. And now it's time to get this wrapped up and put to bed.
With the thirty-second pick in the 2010 Cincy Jungle Mock Draft, the New Orleans Saints select...
The Saints had a year fans will never forget. Starting the year 13-0, going 16-3 overall, and then enjoying a month-long victory party tends to leave a bit of an indelible imprint on your memory. And foolish or not, many fans were hoping and praying for 19-0 for much of the year.
But even had the Saints actually managed the perfect record, no team is ever truly perfect. Now the offense is truly phenomenal. Drew Brees is clearly one of the best QBs in the league, the WR corp is deep and talented, the OL is excellent, and the RBs and TEs are rather good as well. For the last four years in a row they have had a top-5 offense and three of those years they were #1 overall. And last year the way they attained that rank was even more impressive in that they were merely #4 in passing rank and they greatly improved their rushing rank from 5th-worst to 6th-best.
But when it comes to defense, it's another story entirely. Of course no one stat ever tells the whole story, but about the only stats they were truly impressive in were turnovers (where they led the league through week 16) and defensive TDs (where they had double the nearest competition). In raw yards they were wildly unimpressive at 25th overall, and neither run nor pass defense was above 20th. Now some of that was injuries. Despite absolutely embarrassing the Patriots on Monday Night Football, that game was frankly a miracle win. Two of the top three CBs for that game were on the street two weeks earlier, and the third was a rookie. That's not usually a recipe for success. So obviously defense is where the Saints should spend the majority of their picks.
However, when healthy the Saints secondary is actually quite good. Jabari Greer gave up one TD pass all year long, and that one only because of pretty blatant offensive pass interference that somehow didn't get called. Tracy Porter had a stellar season as well, especially so for a second-year player, and Malcolm Jenkins was at least passable with signs of improvement towards the end of the year (especially in the playoffs). Roman Harper isn't too good against the pass, but he's an assassin when blitzing the QB and he's excellent in run support. Darren Sharper is a huge question mark right now, but even if he doesn't return Usama Young did a good job in his limited FS action and Jenkins could play the spot as well. So the secondary is not the primary target for improvement.
The Linebacker corps is merely adequate, but despite Scott Shanle getting old and Scott Fujita getting overpaid by the Browns, it's not the emergency situation some fans seem to think. Between Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Jonathan Casillas, Stanley Arnoux, and Marvin Mitchell they have plenty of young guys who are unproven but talented enough that they can at least mostly replace Fujita. Sure, this could be improved, but it's not the ultra-critical target some pretend it to be.
But the Defensive Line... oy vey! man do they need help here. Will Smith is actually quite good, but faces so many double teams that he doesn't have the stats to back it up. Sedrick Ellis is pretty good too. But the 1-technique tackle position was a revolving door all season long, although Anthony Hargrove did decently (for a converted DE) when he played the spot. And Charles Grant was released about two years late this offseason, although I suppose you can always say better late than never. But Grant has already been replaced by Alex Brown, and I think Hargrove's true value is as a role player who can play any spot on the line and spell others as needed, so the greatest need is for another DT. With the Saints scheme so heavily predicated on QB pressure, ideally the guy should be able to both pressure the QB and help against the run. The only alternative would be to grab somebody like Terrence Cody and hope that he can get his conditioning up enough to become the unmovable boulder in the center of the line that obliterates the inside run and frees up the other players to no longer face as many double teams. About 10 or 15 picks later I'd grab him in a heartbeat, but I don't trust him enough to take him at 32 right now. Then again, the Saints almost never actually show public interest in the players they end up drafting in the first two rounds, so I wouldn't be shocked if he actually was the pick after all. And I also strongly considered Tyson Alualu. I really like this kid, and his flexibility (he's played all four spots on the line in college) will have Gregg Williams drooling.
But instead, I'm going with Brian Price. His only major weakness is he seems susceptible to getting chopped down, but even when it happens he's athletic enough that he just pops right back up and chases after the ball again. His non-stop motor, his highly agressive play, his ability to make plays in the backfield, and his variety of rush techniques are all things that I love about him. And while anchoring down in run defense isn't necessarily his favorite thing to do, he's also pretty good at it as well. His lower body strength is impressive and his upper body strength is even better. And he's no one year wonder, with consistent play for years in which he terrorized the Pac-10. I think this guy is a steal at 32 who really should go earlier, and I'm very happy to have him available instead.
Brian Price Highlights: