By Andrew Schuster @ShootsMcGavin on April 18, 2014
Draft day is always exciting and full of surprises. Sometimes the players that you least expect are selected by your favorite teams. Let's take a look at five dark horse targets for the New Orleans in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Are the Saints likely to go after a defensive tackle in the first round? No, but some added depth at that position would be useful. Hageman stands at 6-foot-6 and is a converted tight end. His athleticism could be used at the defensive end spot as well; that would benefit New Orleans in two areas where they could use the help. I don't expect Hageman to be wearing black and gold in 2014, but you never know who the Saints are targeting.
Kouandjio is a risky pick due to an injury-plagued past, but if he stays healthy, he is one of the top lineman heading into the draft. With the resigning of OT Zach Strief and emergence of OT Terron Armstead, the Saints (still rumored to be after an OT) aren't likely to grab a tackle until the later rounds. However, the Bama product has the size and ability to be an absolute beast on the line.
The 2014 NFL Draft is deep with receivers, so ruling out top picks Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, the chances of New Orleans grabbing one in the first round (unless LSU's Beckham Jr. is still available) are slim to none. However, Lee did make a visit to the Big Easy, but that's just what players do before the draft. Drafting Lee is not expected, but you never know what's up the sleeves of Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis.
Van Noy has pretty much been flying under the radar so far this offseason. I haven't heard anything about him in first-round draft talks by any team. Depending on how quick LBs are snatched up on the first day, I can see Van Noy being taken in the early second or even late first. He should be a dark horse for all franchises that are in the market for a pass-rushing outside linebacker, especially in an aggressive 3-4 scheme like Rob Ryan's.
Garoppolo is a second-round quarterback with first-round potential. He's not a guy who can be thrown into the mix as a starter off the top, but that's not going to happen in New Orleans. The Saints are likely to select a QB for life after Brees in this deep draft. Are they going to in the first round? Doubtful, but Coach Sean Payton was also an Eastern Illinois quarterback and Garoppolo has received high praise from the Saints' coach as of late.
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