Rams-Titans Trade Doesn’t Effect Saints Top Pick


When the news first broke that the Los Angeles Rams had traded up for the Tennessee Titans’ #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, it was a little surprising to say the least.

More surprising that it was the Rams; and not a team like the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, or the Cleveland Browns — who would trade up to try and lockdown a guaranteed pick of what would be an expected future “franchise quarterback”, which all three teams actually need.

Of course with all three teams ushering in new head coaches, it would be a brazen move that could end their new gigs just as quickly as they began, if it wound up being an Robert Griffin III storyline.

Dec 29, 2015; Fort Worth, TX, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws a pass while rushed by Air Force Falcons linebacker Jack Flor (50) in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

My immediate thought was how would the move ultimately effect the New Orleans Saints in the draft; if there was a sudden rush on quarterbacks within the first top five or even ten picks, with Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz being the top two likely first off the board.

It could either cause a massive opportunity for the Saints to select the player of their choosing, or have them scrambling for the best available player much like what happened last year; when they selected offensive tackle Andrus Peat after defensive tackle Danny Shelton was ripped from their hands by the Browns just the selection before.

There is a fear that the latter could happen; but with a draft that is rich in talent along the defensive line which the Saints desperately need, it still looks very promising.

Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (44) in game action against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Ohio State won 42-20. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s face facts, unless the Saints trade up (such as in Saints beat writer Katherine Terrell’s latest mock draft) they won’t be getting a player like defensive end DeForest Buckner or linebacker Myles Jack, even if his medical recheck the other day had some teams allegedly concerned.

The growing consensus among most mock drafts still is that the Saints will select Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.

A major part of the crew at NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks, Charles Davis) selected Rankins in their post-trade mocks to head to New Orleans with the twelfth overall pick, while Lance Zierlein had Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin going to the Saints instead.

Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans offensive tackle Jack Conklin (74) during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Zierlein’s choice was a little odd not just because of the selection, but because he had Rankins going at #14 to the Oakland Raiders, as well as another popular favorite Saints mock pick in Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson falling to #28 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

If Rankins let alone Lawson were to land in the Saints laps at their pick, I just couldn’t see them passing it up.

And speaking of Lawson, that’s who Chad Reuter went with as his pick for the Saints; while Charlie Casserly rounded out NFL.com’s mocks with them selecting Lawson’s fellow teammate, defensive end Kevin Dodd — actually choosing him over Lawson, who he has going the pick immediately after.

USA Today’s Nate Davis  went with a growing narrative in his mock draft following the trade. and had the Saints taking a wide receiver and it was — wait for it — Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell.

Oct 10, 2015; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (1) catches a pass against New Mexico State Aggies defensive back Jaden Wright (21) during the game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

There were plenty of trades also predicted in that mock; where the New York Jets trade up to the Baltimore Ravens spot at #6 to grab a quarterback (one I’ve actually been hearing about), and the Chicago Bears trading up with the San Francisco 49ers to the #7 spot, to grab defensive end DeForest Buckner.

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The Bears/49ers trade scenario is an interesting one, considering that 49ers head coach Chip Kelly loves his Oregon players and would want to get Buckner himself; but in the trade down to the Bears eleventh overall pick, Davis has them grabbing Memphis QB Paxton Lynch — which could help solve some of their issues in an area (quarterback) that needs improvement.

The selection of Treadwell to the Saints by Davis is as perplexing to me as Zierlein’s choice of Conklin; since in this mock draft he has Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed, Lawson, and Rankins still available (Reed goes to Raiders at #14, Lawson to the Buffalo Bills at #19, and Rankins to the Seattle Seahawks at #26).

Nov 21, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) runs with the ball as Louisville Cardinals defensive end Sheldon Rankins (98) defends during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller doesn’t let Rankins out of New Orleans sight though and has him going to the Black and Gold as their best option since Lawson is off the board, with him going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #9.

I have a feeling that Lawson will be the prime target for the Saints with Rankins a close second; with the latter getting selected if Lawson is off the table, such as in Miller’s mock draft.

Next: Saints Draft: The Best of the Best 'EDGE' Pass Rushers

There are a few analysts that feel Rankins could be the better “fit” for the Saints with their assumed 4-3 defense by possessing both the ability to be a defensive tackle as well as provide some pass rush from the interior on the defensive line.

In a little less than two weeks from now, the speculation will finally be over — as the Saints will welcome the newest members of their 2016 NFL Draft class to New Orleans…..