2023 NFL Draft: Defensive line help high priority for Saints

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Justin Fields, Myles Murphy
Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy (#98) is a projected first round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft (Photo: Parker Waters).

With the No. 29 overall selection in the first round, the New Orleans Saints should take the best and highest rated player on their board. However, a real need on the defensive line will likely dictate their strategy.

If it works out that a defensive line prospect is their highest rated, that would be great. It could happen.

The deepest positions in this draft are defensive line and cornerback. The weakest is safety.

As many as 10 defensive lineman could come off the board in Round 1.

Will Anderson, the defensive end out of Alabama, is a top five overall pick. Jalen Carter, defensive tackle from Georgia, is also a clear top five talent but his off-the-field issues could have him slip a few picks.

Tyree Wilson, the former Texas Tech defensive end, Myles Murphy, ex-Clemson defensive end, and Calijah Kancey, the undersized defensive tackle out of Pittsburgh, also should rank high on the Saints’ board. Wilson will not get to No. 29 but either of the other two prospects may.

When there’s a player the Saints really like, we know they are not shy about making a trade up to get him. Iowa defensive end Lukas Van Ness and Clemson defensivw tackle Brian Bresse could be those types of players who fit the Saints’ wants and needs.

Bresse has been the Saints pick in many Mock draft. The former No. 1 overall college recruit is a very explosive athlete and also shows power at the point of attack. He has good length and a high motor, but Bresse has had injury problems including a torn ACL raise red flags. It may seem hard but, if a player is hurt in college, he will probably be hurt in the NFL. I said this about former Saints first rounder Payton Turner, the defensive end from Houston who has missed a lot of time with injuries just like he did in college.

Keion White out of Georgia Tech is a prospect who could go around where the Saints pick or could slide to the top of Round 2. He transferred from Old Dominion into the Power 5, making 7.5 sacks and 54 tackles in the 2022 season. He is a 285-pound edge who may be able to pass rush as a tackle as well.

Mazi Smith, my projected pick at No. 29, has a great combination of size and strength. The 6-3, 335-pound athletic marvel from Michigan has a very high ceiling.

Adetomiwa Adebawore out of Northwestern, one of the best testing defensive line prospects ever, could round out Round 1.

Offensive line is also a position the Saints may look. The guard spot is a need.

O’Cyrus Torence (6-5, 335), who shined this past season for Florida after transferring from UL Lafayette) is a good offensive guard prospect. He needs to get in better shape, and I think he could play better if he lost 10 pounds.

Cody Mauch (6-6, 300) out of North Dakota State played left tackle in college but he may project to the offensive guard position in the NFL. A fine athlete with shorter arms than you’d like to block the edge, he did well in the one-on-one drills at the Senior bowl.

The names are always different but some things never change. On Thursday night, the speculation will end, and we will know and praise or complain about the local team’s draft.

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Al Dupuy

CCS NFL Draft Expert

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Dupuy is the owner of Draft Day Report, The Pro Prospects Draft Scrapbook, a must for any draftnik following the NFL. Al was born in Plaquemine, La., and moved to New Orleans when he was 6 years old. He grew up on Tulane Ave. two blocks from Pelican Stadium and became interested in sports at an early age. He went…

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