Saints eye 2021 draft prospects

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Mac Jones

The Saints will add depth through the draft without money free under the salary cap to land top free agents.

They were one of three teams to get an interview at the Senior Bowl with quarterback Max Jones, the 6-foot-2, 217-pound pocket passer Alabama.

An accurate passer, Jones is consistent with his footwork and mobile within the pocket. He makes good decisions and throws with anticipation to spots.

Jones has taken the snap from the shotgun and under center, unlike the other quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl practices. He has only average arm strength and needs more bulk on his thin frame.

Overall, Jones is rising up the draft board . If the Saints are still interested, they can expected to need a trade up in round one.

Another prospect New Orleans appears to like is wide receiver Kadarius Toney (6-0, 192), the wide receiver out of Florida. Wideout is a need position, and Toney is an athletic receiver with speed and toughness. He had a good week of practices in Mobile as an explosive talent who creates separation from good cornerbacks. He tracked the ball In the air well while also appearing dangerous with the ball In his hands.

Toney did miss some time in 2019 due to injury but came back in 2020 to catch 70 passes and 10 for touchdowns.

At tight end, Boston College’s Hunter Long (6-5, 255 with 4.68 speed) could be intriguing to the Saints. The Eagles threw a lot to the tight end position, and Long had 57 catches plus a nation leading five touchdowns among tight ends in 2020. He is an improving route runner with good hands and ball skills but is also a willing blocker. Long could add more functional strength for the pro game.

The defensive tackle position is becoming a need with Malcolm Brown gone and Sheldon Rankins a free agent expected to sign elsewhere. Levi Onwuzurike (6-3, 290) out of Washington looked like the best defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl. He is a very quick interior pass rusher who can shoot gaps. Although a bit undersized, Onwuzurike showed enough anchor to play the run. He has great upside and is very flexible to work well laterally.

Linebacker comes into play with Kwon Alexander injured and Alex Anzalone set to depart in free agency. Zaven Collins (6-4, 256, 4.78) may be worth the first round choice. The former Tulsa star is an active linebacker with pass-rush skills who had an impressively productive season in 2020 including a pick-six walk-off in an overtime win against Tulane. A big quick versatile athlete who has the agility to drop into pass coverage, Collins can project to all the linebacker positions.

With the local team cutting Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins, cornerback comes into play as a need. Jaycee Horn (6-1, 205) out of South Carolina is ex-Saints receiver Joe Horn’s son. He had two picks and six passes defended in 2020 before opting out of the final three games of the season. Horn played well against SEC teams with dynamic receivers like Alabama and Auburn. He looks like a late first to early second round projection, although he does lack elite speed.

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