Going into the draft on Thursday the Saints will be picking 15th barring any trades (possibly with the Jets at 9 or 13??). Based on that, I've listed 15 players below that I consider as tops on the Saints' big board. We know that, no matter what, at least one of these 15 players below will be available. I didn't include players like QB Geno Smith, G Chance Warmack or G Jonathan Cooper who the Saints will not draft. If any of those guys go in the top 14, which is more than possible, that means more than one guy on this list will be available. I ranked them in order of preference for me, factoring both the player's talent level AND the team's need. I did a draft board two months ago with only defensive players, but a lot has changed since then with Jermon Bushrod leaving in free agency. You'll notice some of the guys I listed high have dropped out entirely or way down since the combine.
1. DT Star Lotulelei, Utah: There is a very small chance this guy is available at 15, but if the Saints were picking 1st overall he'd be the guy I want. He would anchor their defensive line and be the 3-4 nose they need to make that defense work.
2. T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: He has a good chance of being the first pick overall and will definitely be gone by the top 10.
3. T Eric Fisher, Central Michigan: He's also got a shot at being first overall and won't be available at 15.
4. DE Dion Jordan, Oregon: Consensus says he's the best pass rusher in the draft. He won't be there at 15.
5. CB Dee Milliner, Alabama: Also won't be available, but he's the best corner in the draft and it's clear the Saints still want help there since they never signed anyone after losing out on both Tracy Porter and Nnamdi Asomugha.
6. DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida: The big question mark for me is whether or not this guy has the size to be an effective 3-4 nose. No doubt he's an elite 4-3 prospect, though, and there's only a really small chance he's available at 15.
7. DE Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, BYU: He's raw but the most freakish athlete in the draft. I'd actually be a little nervous if the Saints took him because he's not a guarantee, but his talent is too good to ignore. Outside chance he'll be there at 15.
8. T Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: Outside chance he's available at 15, but it's unlikely. He's the third best of the three tackles but still a guy most expect to have a long and decorated career.
9. LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia: There is a decent shot he's available at 15, we'll call it 50-50. Health is the big question mark with him, but if that checks out then in my opinion he's a surefire star.
10. DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU: Would likely be a project for starters as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Too small of a frame to start day one in my opinion, but could develop into a star. Certainly has elite talent and potential. 50-50 shot he's available at 15.
11. WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia: 50-50 shot he's available at 15 but he's the best receiver in the draft according to most.
12. S Kenny Vacarro, Texas: He's a guy I've selected in two mock drafts, much to the chagrin of some Saints fans. He reminds some too much of Jenkins but he's a physical safety that will make an impact in the league. He should be available at 15.
13. DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State: Many think he's a 4-3 DE but I think he'll do great as a 3-4 outside backer if asked to do so. Would be a big boost to the Saints' pass rush. Will almost certainly be available at 15.
14. LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: Look I don't want him either, but if the 13 guys listed above are taken I consider him. Actually, if the 13 guys ahead of him are taken I trade down! Te'o could be a nice player to develop as an inside backer in the 3-4 that could line up next to Curtis Lofton with some seasoning. Almost certainly available at 15.
15. CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State: I'm not in love with this guy as he reminds me a bit too much of Patrick Robinson, his FSU predecessor. He's huge for a corner, though, and would play a lot more physical than anyone else the Saints currently have on the roster. Should be available at 15, but not a definite.
Again, I can promise you with 100% certainty based on my advanced mathematical skills that one of these players will be available at 15. That doesn't count a few guys that many project to go top 14: Geno Smith, Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper, Sheldon Richardson, and anyone else that a team might surprise us by reaching for/picking (please take a Quarterback!!!). Does this board look right to you? Anyone you'd move up or down?