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pakowitz 04-08-2003 01:33 AM

Saints report: Inside slant

April 7, 2003

Notes, quotes, anecdotes | Strategy and personnel

There's been a lot of speculation in recent weeks about the Saints trying to move into the top 10 in the first round of the April 26-27 draft, but coach Jim Haslett said it's unlikely to happen.
Haslett, general manager Mickey Loomis and director of player personnel Rick Mueller will certainly explore all their options between now and draft day, but Haslett said a trade that would vault the Saints into the upper reaches of the first round would be costly in more ways than one.

The Saints would probably have to give up their two first-round picks (Nos. 17 and 18 overall) and possibly another draft choice either this year or next to get what would amount to an NBA lottery pick.

"We might move up. But if you move up in the (Nos.) 4, 5, 6, 7 slot, it's going to cost you," Haslett said. "For the 17th and 18th picks last year, it cost you $11 million to sign both of them. But it will cost you $15 million or $20 million to sign one of those guys (in the top seven).

"So really, the benefit is to stay where we're at," he said. "You might get a better player (in the top seven), but you're paying twice as much and I'm getting an extra player. So I don't know if you take that deal."

Stockpiling draft picks has been Haslett's method of operation the last couple of years. Last spring, the Saints had an extra first-round pick (25th overall) from the trade that sent Ricky Williams to the Dolphins.

They used their own first-round pick (No. 13) for wide receiver DontT Stallworth and then nabbed defensive end Charles Grant with the selection they got from the Dolphins. Both became starters, along with second-round pick LeCharles Bentley, even though Stallworth struggled with injuries for part of the season.

The Saints would like to add more young talent with the five picks they have in the first three rounds. In addition to back-to-back picks in the first round (Nos. 17 and 18), they have their own second-round choice and two third rounders this year.

The second of the two first-round selections will complete the Williams trade, while the extra third-round pick came from the Chiefs for tackle William Roaf.

At this point, Haslett said his ideal draft would net the Saints "a really good corner" as well as a tight end, safety and maybe another cornerback later in the draft. The Saints have no picks in the fourth or sixth rounds, but they have one selection in the fifth round and two in the seventh.

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