New Orleans Saints 1st Round Mock Draft: Saints Strengthen the Trenches with Offensive Line

The New Orleans Saints enter the 2024 draft with a glaring need on their offensive line. This New Orleans Saints 1st round mock draft focuses on addressing their biggest needs. With questions surrounding the long-term health of Ryan Ramczyk and the inconsistent play of Trevor Penning at left tackle, the Saints desperately need to solidify their blindside protection for Derek Carr. Here’s how they might address this need in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft:

NFL roundup: Saints sneak past Chiefs in final minute | Reuters

New Orleans Saints 1st Round Mock Draft

Don’t miss my full 1st round mock draft where the Saints land Olu Fashanu at 14th overall and there is a shakeup at the top of the board.

Round 1, Pick 14: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Penn State's Olu Fashanu is voted Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year

The Saints land their top offensive tackle target in Olu Fashanu, a mammoth (6’6″, 312 lbs) protector from Penn State. Fashanu boasts a rare combination of size, athleticism, and power. He displays impressive footwork for his size, anchoring well against speed rushers and showcasing the ability to mirror quicker pass-rush moves.

Fashanu excels in the run game, using his long arms and powerful core to seal defenders on the edge and open up running lanes. With a strong foundation in Penn State’s pro-style offense, Fashanu is NFL-ready from a technical standpoint.

While his pass protection technique needs some refinement, particularly against bull rushes, his upside is undeniable. Fashanu has the potential to be a franchise left tackle for years to come, protecting Derek Carr’s blindside and anchoring the Saints’ offensive line for a decade.

Other Considerations:

  • JC Latham, OT, Alabama: Latham is another highly-touted tackle prospect with a similar skillset to Fashanu. He offers elite size (6’6″, 315 lbs) and impressive athleticism, showcasing quick feet and the ability to excel in both pass protection and run blocking. However, Latham might require a bit more time to develop his technique compared to Fashanu.
  • Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State: Fuaga is a polished technician with a strong understanding of leverage and hand placement. He excels in zone blocking schemes and displays good awareness in pass protection. While his upside might not be as high as Fashanu or Latham, Fuaga offers a safer pick with immediate starting potential at right tackle.
  • Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington: Fautanu is a powerful and aggressive run blocker who excels in creating movement at the line of scrimmage. He possesses a nasty streak and displays the ability to finish blocks. However, his pass protection technique needs work, and his athleticism might be a concern against quicker edge rushers.

Why Fashanu Makes Sense

This New Orleans Saints 1st Round Mock Draft prioritize upside and long-term value with the selection of Fashanu. While all the listed prospects could contribute, Fashanu’s combination of size, athleticism, and developing technique makes him the most intriguing option. He has the potential to be a cornerstone left tackle for years to come, protecting Carr and solidifying the Saints’ offensive line for the future.

Furthermore, the Saints can address other needs later in the draft. With a strong interior line already in place, they can focus on finding a developmental guard or center in the later rounds. Alternatively, they can explore options at wide receiver or linebacker depending on how the board falls.

Impact on the Saints

Fashanu’s arrival immediately bolsters the Saints’ offensive line. He provides Carr with much-needed protection on his blindside, allowing him to operate more confidently and unleash his full potential. Additionally, Fashanu’s run-blocking prowess will improve the Saints’ ground attack, creating cleaner lanes for Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams.

This New Orleans Saints 1st round mock draft selection has a ripple effect throughout the offense. A more confident and protected Winston can improve the overall passing game. A revitalized rushing attack keeps defenses honest and opens up play-action opportunities. Ultimately, selecting Fashanu sets the foundation for a more potent and balanced Saints offense.

Final Thoughts

The New Orleans Saints address their most pressing need with the selection of Olu Fashanu. He possesses the tools to be a dominant left tackle for years to come, solidifying the Saints’ offensive line and paving the way for a more explosive offense in the 2024 season and beyond.

Don’t miss my full 1st round mock draft where the Saints land Olu Fashanu at 14th overall and there is a shakeup at the top of the board.

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