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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Saints find new starting left tackle

With the 16th overall pick in the 2022 Bleeding Green Nation community mock draft, New Orleans Saints GM 20Safety_Hazard selects ...

Arkansas v Mississippi State Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Having finished third in last year’s Bleeding Green Nation Mock Draft, I had once again earned the right to pick for the Philadelphia Eagles. All I needed was for Carson Wentz to start 75% of his snaps and that pick was mine to make. It was a roller coaster ride of COVID positives, ankle injuries, a 1-5 start, a 5-1 streak, and a colossal meltdown to miss the playoffs. When the dust settled, Carson was a Commander and the first-round pick conveyed! As the saying goes, “Everything’s Coming Up Milhouse!”

And then it happened. I got the call from Howie himself. And by call, I mean tweet from Adam Schefter. The Eagles had traded my beloved pick to the Saints for a treasure trove of picks. Unbeknownst to Howie, in trading that pick, he traded me as well. If only he could have waited a week to announce the trade! But alas, like Jonah Hill in Moneyball, I was shipped out of the front office to a new team with a terrible stadium. Months of draft board prep work lost, as I arrived at a new team with very different draft needs.

For the record, if we could do trades in this Mock Draft exercise and someone made that deal to me I would have done it in a heartbeat. I have been beating that drum ever since the pick conveyed. I am assuming since it was my pick that was traded, my right to pick for the Eagles will transfer to next year’s draft, right Brandon? [BLG Note: Let’s see if you can win it outright!]

So onto the pick. Looking at the fraudulent organization that is the New Orleans Saints, I notice three glaring needs right off the bat. Quarterback, Offensive Tackle, and Wide Receiver. I know the front office says they believe in Jameis Winston, but with Sean Payton gone (for now) I just do not see it happening. Unfortunately, and much to my surprise, three quarterbacks went off the board in the first nine picks. Frankly, I do not think there are three quarterbacks that deserve to go in the first round let alone the top 10. But I am not going to get suckered into reaching on a QB when I have other glaring holes to fill. So, Jameis the ball is yours.

Which leaves me with WR and OT. As I sat enviously watching the Eagles make their first pick, there were two WRs and one OT left on the Board that I really liked. Unfortunately, the Eagles snagged one of them leaving me with my favorite WR in this draft and the last OT I love left. It was at this point I realized I needed to take a calculated risk. You see, there are only two teams who will pick before the Saints get back on the board: the Los Angeles Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles just drafted a WR in the first for the third straight year, I doubt they will take their second WR this draft. And the Chargers have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. WR is frankly a luxury pick that the Chargers cannot afford to make, despite what some pundits are suggesting. But what do the Chargers need – an offensive tackle. If I take my WR here, I know the OT will not make it past the Chargers. But if I take the OT here, I am pretty sure my number 1 WR will continue to fall to my colleague Georgia_eagle (assuming we are on the same page). Never met Georgia_eagle though so who knows what the Saints pick at 19 will be.

600 words in and I finally get to the pick. Offensive Tackle Charles Cross from Mississippi State. This kid is a technician, especially in pass protection, with quick hands and elite anticipation. He generally displays good balance and can effectively counter and redirect any attack from pass rushers. He moves smoothly, has great athleticism, and is very good at sustaining blocks. He works effectively in a zone protection system and is effective getting to the second level to open up screens and huge runs.

The two traits that set Cross apart are his quick first step and his tenacity. Cross is quick off the snap and not in a “I am going to get flagged for lots of false starts” kind of way. He anticipates the snap and gets into position allowing him to anchor and absorb the blow. He is very good against bullrushers, which is surprising for a guy on the smaller side, because he’s usually already set before the bullrush gets to him. Don’t let that smaller frame fool you, he is aggressive, often throwing his whole body into the block giving him the advantage over guys who outsize him. Playing in the SEC, Cross constantly lined up against rushers larger than himself, and he often came out ahead. There is no quit in this man.

He could stand to be better in run blocking, particularly in opening up holes. This is where his slightly smaller size could become an issue if he does not add weight. But let’s be honest, Jameis is going to be chucking that ball a lot so this should not be a huge concern early in his career. While he has a great first step, he can struggle with elite speed rushers getting around the corner on him. He will need to really leverage his attack to lock in rushers early to avoid getting beat to the corner.

Charles Cross provides the Saints with an LT of the future. He’s athletic, has great instincts, and is a fighter in the trenches. He addresses one of the Saints biggest holes entering the draft without having to reach. In truth, he is a strong value at 16. Hopefully, the rest of the first round falls the way I think it will and the Saints secure the much-needed help Jameis needs to be competitive.

Oh who am I kidding, I want the wheels to fall off this team just like the rest of Eagle Nation. Go Birds!

Poll

Do you approve of this pick?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Yes
    (420 votes)
  • 21%
    No
    (118 votes)
538 votes total Vote Now

2022 BGN Mock Draft Order

1) Jaguars (HellBentOnHurts): DE Aidan Hutchinson
2) Lions (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan): DE Travon Walker
3) Texans (herbalonius): OT Evan Neal
4) Jets (RideHighTide): OT Ikem Ekwonu
5) Giants (Brendanekstrom): CB Ahmad Gardner
6) Panthers (Philliesandthebees): QB Kenny Pickett
7) Giants (Dr.MidnightGreen): DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
8) Falcons (Philly21): QB Malik Willis
9) Seahawks (chewy wellington) QB Matt Corral
10) Jets (tfrank9811): S Kyle Hamilton
11) Commanders (Negadelphia Norm): CB Derek Stingley Jr.
12) Vikings (Kephas): CB Trent McDuffie
13) Texans (Bdawk20rules): WR Drake London
14) Ravens (ablesser88): DT Jordan Davis
15) Eagles (Fly Like An Eagle): WR Chris Olave
16) Saints (20Safety_Hazard): OT Charles Cross
17) Chargers (LBCeaglesFan!)
18) Eagles (Phoenix X Minimus)
19) Saints (Georgia_eagle)
20) Steelers (EagleDomiNation)
21) Patriots (Domonate)
22) Packers (Leo Bedio)
23) Cardinals (big DUB)
24) Cowboys (joey2arms)
25) Bills (ItownBallers22)
26) Titans (BrianMcE03)
27) Buccaneers (4133Dave)
28) Packers (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop)
29) Chiefs (GreenGrampa)
30) Chiefs (Legend of Nick Foles)
31) Bengals (Thedeuce9)
32) Lions (Dtechman44)


Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected next in the 2022 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.

Poll

Who should the Saints draft at No. 16?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    OT Trevor Penning
    (85 votes)
  • 20%
    WR Garrett Wilson
    (58 votes)
  • 12%
    WR Chris Olave
    (34 votes)
  • 6%
    WR Drake London
    (17 votes)
  • 2%
    WR Treylon Burks
    (8 votes)
  • 13%
    QB Matt Corral
    (38 votes)
  • 3%
    QB Desmond Ridder
    (11 votes)
  • 3%
    OT Bernhard Raimann
    (10 votes)
  • 5%
    LB Devin Lloyd
    (16 votes)
277 votes total Vote Now

1) Jaguars: DE Aidan Hutchinson
2) Lions: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
3) Texans: OT Evan Neal
4) Jets: OT Ikem Ekwonu
5) Giants: OT Charles Cross
6) Panthers: QB Malik Willis
7) Giants: CB Ahmad Gardner
8) Falcons: QB Kenny Pickett
9) Seahawks: S Kyle Hamilton
10) Jets: DE Travon Walker
11) Commanders: CB Derek Stingley Jr.
12) Vikings: CB Trent McDuffie
13) Texans: DE Jermaine Johnson
14) Ravens: DT Jordan Davis
15) Eagles: WR Jameson Williams
16) Saints: