New Orleans Saints: First Round Targets In The 2022 NFL Draft

2022 NFL Mock Draft, Charles Cross. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
2022 NFL Mock Draft, Charles Cross. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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Ikem Ekwonu, 2022 NFL Draft
2022 NFL Draft prospect Ikem Ekwonu #79 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

A Blue-Chip Move Up

This is where things get really wild for the New Orleans Saints. If they added both picks 16 and 19 to the cupboard in order to move up, it could cost both selections (according to the draft value trade chart) to move up into the top five to get a blue-chip player. It feels like there are two options here.

Ikem Ekwonu

If the Saints are able to package these picks to move to pick three, four, or five, it’s for one of the top tackles. Ikem Ekwonu leads the list. If the Saints get down to business a bit more and run the football, getting Ekwonu instantly ups the mentality of the group up front. Ekwonu was the pancake king in college, is excellent as a space blocker, and drastically improved as a pass blocker in 2021. With the footwork and grip strength, he can be the instant-impact replacement the Saints need.

Evan Neal

The other to watch is Evan Neal, who based on mock drafts and what many are hearing, could be available at that fifth selection, a perfect trade spot with the Giants. Neal started at left guard, right tackle, and left tackle in his career with the Crimson Tide, but had his best season at left tackle in 2021. He meshes great power, athleticism, and length into one, and it shows in both phases of the game. His footwork is great to mirror rushers, and his explosiveness and quickness give him an edge as a run blocker.