The New Orleans Saints enter 2022 without Drew Brees and Sean Payton in-house for the first time since 2006. The franchise is transitioning to a new era without a long-term signal-caller, which could change after the 2022 NFL Draft. In this 2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft, the Saints rebuild at the quarterback position but retool at others.
New Orleans Saints 2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft
Round 1, Pick 18: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
We can talk all we want about how this QB class is weak. Nevertheless, there will absolutely be at least two selected in the first round. That’s just how valuable the position is in football. Long story short, if there is a QB the Saints believe is worthy of a Day 1 pick, they will absolutely pull the trigger. It’d be a long play to back up Jameis Winston in 2022 before ultimately taking the reigns a year later. Essentially making Winston a bridge quarterback.
Sam Howell is one of the prospects that could be available at No. 18. He isn’t a polished passer, but he is one of the best at throwing deep. He owns subtle feet in the pocket and the build/mentality to stand tall in the face of pressure. The arm talent is there, and he flashed above-average rushing ability in 2021. Howell offers New Orleans a signal-caller they can construct a team around.
Round 2, Pick 49: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
And construct a team around him they do, as with their next pick in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Saints take WR Christian Watson. After his NFL Combine performance, it wouldn’t surprise me if Watson went off the board in Round 1.
At 6’4″, he towers over most defensive backs, and his 4.36 speed allows him to stretch the field. The Saints need just that opposite Michael Thomas, and Watson can help unlock Howell’s arm.
Round 3, Pick 98: Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama
There isn’t much depth in the cornerback room outside of Marshon Lattimore and C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the slot. Jalyn Armour-Davis is a little more raw than we’re used to seeing from an Alabama DB, but his physical tools are worth banking on. He may not be a Day 1 starter, but the potential is there to be a stellar CB2/3.
Round 3, Pick 101: Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
Matt Waletzko was seen as a late-round project early in the draft process. Yet, he’s rocketing up boards after a solid showing at the Senior Bowl and impressive testing numbers at the Combine. At 6’8″ with 36-inch arms, it’s hard to argue against Waletzko’s potential as a pass blocker. It’s also hard to argue against the Saints’ need for a tackle after Terron Armstead joined the Dolphins in free agency.
Round 4, Pick 120: Nick Cross, S, Maryland
Marcus Williams is now a Raven, P.J. Williams is free agent, and Malcolm Jenkins is 34 — his best football is behind him. Enter Nick Cross. He has the range to play in single-high looks, but his best fit would be coming downhill. He is a certified thumper over the middle of the field and has no issue lowering his shoulder against the run. The Saints would love to add that physicality to their secondary.
Round 5, Pick 161: Otito Ogbonnia, DT, UCLA
While Otito Ogbonnia offers little in the pass-rush department, he flashed growth there in 2021. Shy Tuttle is in-house for just one more season, and the Saints could use a long-term option occupying the B gaps. Ogbonnia can be a run-stuffing presence in the interior from Day 1.
Round 7, Pick 237: Clarence Hicks, LB, UTSA
Clarence Hicks played wherever UTSA asked him to. He thrived near the line of scrimmage, both on the edge and in the box. Now, at over 6’1″ and 220 pounds, his frame likely won’t hold up as a primary pass rusher in the next level. And his lack of coverage snaps leaves questions in that area of his game. Nevertheless, with their final pick in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, New Orleans backs on Hicks’ special-teams value and versatility.