I held a Mock Draft with a few of the guys at WWL on Thursday night, with four different drafters each making eight picks. Myself, Steve Geller, Mark Menard and T-Bob Hebert had a lot of fun running through the steps and discussing stats. I got the action started by picking Jadeveon Clowney, the defensive end out of South Carolina, and Steve Geller ended the round by selecting tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. Here’s a full chart of how the first round went down:
St. Louis (from Washington)
Cleveland (from Indianapolis)
Odell Beckham Jr.
Overall, things flowed smoothly with only a few surprises. Teddy Bridgewater fell to 8th overall where the Minnesota Vikings selected him. T-Bob picked Xavier Su’a-Filo, a guard out of UCLA, for Miami at 19th overall, which may be a reach; but the Dolphins need help along the offensive line.
One LSU player was selected in the 1st Round, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who went to Cleveland with the 26th pick. This would mark the 4th straight season that an LSU player went in the 1st round, and he would be the 1st LSU receiver drafted in the 1st since Dwayne Bowe went to Kansas City in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Had Beckham been available, the Saints would gladly have scooped him up. He can be a dynamic wide receiver and returner, but the Saints still got a stud one pick later. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks from Oregon State was still hanging around when the Saints pick rolled around, and I didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and select him. Cooks is the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner, which goes to college football’s best wide receiver.
A bonus for Beckham and Cooks going with back-to-back picks? Carolina would love to grab a wide receiver and saw its two top targets fly off the board there; the Panthers settled for a giant offensive tackle to replace the recently-retired Jordan Gross.
WWL’s NFL Analyst and draft expert Mike Detillier offered his analysis of our picks. He said that we nailed the top 8 players, though he predicted “Some team, probably Atlanta, tries to trade up for Jadeveon Clowney” (the four of us who did the mock draft decided against doing trades, just to keep things a little simpler). The Dirty Birds getting the best pass-rusher in the draft? No, thank you!
Detillier loved the picks of Greg Robinson to the Rams, Sammy Watkins to the Raiders, and Eric Ebron to the Giants; but he thought C.J. Mosley and Marqise Lee were both selected a bit too high. Detillier liked the Black & Gold’s selection of Brandin Cooks, but gave a caveat, saying “if I am the Saints, I would jump in a heartbeat for Cooks, but I think he's gone at 27.”
Below is a breakdown each of our picks.
Jordan Fiegel (@JGFiegel):
Houston -- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Atlanta -- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Tennessee -- Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Pittsburgh -- Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Dallas -- Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Green Bay - HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
New Orleans - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Denver - Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame
Steve Geller (@SteveGellerWWL):
St. Louis - 2. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn; 13. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Tampa Bay - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Baltimore - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Arizona - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Philadelphia - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Carolina - Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Seattle - Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Mark Menard (@MarkMenard13):
Jacksonville - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Oakland - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Minnesota - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
New York Giants - Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
New York Jets - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
San Diego - David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Kansas City - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
New England - Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Saints tweeted on Tuesday night that they signed free agent safety Jairus Byrd (5'10, 203lbs) to a 6-year deal. Byrd was a second round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2009 out of Oregon. The 27-year old is a 3-time Pro-Bowler (2009, 2012, 2013) and a 3-time All-Pro (2009, 2012, 2013). Click here to view his stats.
In his five years in the league, he's racked up 256 tackles, 33 pass deflections, and 22 interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns. As a rookie, Byrd tied for the league-lead in interceptions with 9. He has 90 tackles and nine interceptions alone in the last two seasons.
According to ESPN, Byrd is looking for $9 million a year, which would make him the second-highest paid safety in the league after Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs. Byrd played under the franchise tag last season after being unable to reach a long term deal with the Bills, who decided not to tag him again this year.
Saints are giving former Bills S Jairus Byrd a six-year, $54 million contract, including $28 million guaranteed, per source.
According to Adam, it's 6 years at exactly $9 million a year.It is common knowledge that the Saints currently have little cap room. However, Byrd is a star player, and the Saints are making this work, pairing one of the top safeties in the league (Byrd) with one of the top young safeties in the league (Kenny Vacarro).
General Manager Mickey Loomis and the Saints front office could be gold medalists when it comes to the salary cap gymnastics they do.
As of Tuesday, the Saints are about $2 million under the NFL cap of approximately $132 million. But just three moves could help the Black and Gold clear a good bit of money.
If Pierre Thomas is cut, it would save the Saints $2.9 million. If Darren Sproles is cut (or traded), it would save the Saints about $3.5 million. Both of those players have been rumored in recent days to be on the trading block or possibly on the way out. Just one more player could help the Saints saved some cap space.
Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley will count about $6.1 million against the cap this season, but cutting him would save just $1.275 million. However, if the Saints designate Brodrick Bunkley as a June 1st cut, it would save about $4.5 million this year (though, Bunkley would still count about $3.2 million against the cap in 2015).
Altogether, that would give the Saints an extra approximately $10.9 million – added to the $1.9 million in current space, bringing the total to between $12-13 million -- to work with, which would be enough to sign Byrd if he wanted to don the Black and Gold. Another thing to consider is that if Byrd did sign with the Saints, his cap hit for the first year would almost definitely be under $9 million due to the set up of the contract. And if Jimmy Graham inks a long-term deal, his cap hit would most likely drop from the $7.035 million it is now.
And this is not even considering contracts the Saints may want to renegotiate to clear up cap space. In other words, rest assured, Who Dats, the signing of Jairus Byrd won't bankrupt the Saints. He's a stud safety, and NFL's #2 pass defense now has one of the best safety tandems in the league.