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WhoDat 04-24-2003 07:38 AM

Saints still have holes on defense

Saints still have holes on defense
Kevin Foote

April 23, 2003

If you listen to the pre-draft hype by New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis, the Saints are in a great position as they enter this weekend’s NFL draft. In many ways, his stance is believeable.

If everyone who is signed shows up, the Saints could start opening day with their current group of offensive starters. If any offensive players are taken this weekend, it will more than likely be for added depth, especially on the offensive line.

The defensive side, however, is a different story. It’s entirely possible that a linebacker or safety selected Saturday could start games this fall. For that matter, an early cornerback or defensive linemen could see a lot of playing time.

Loomis claims that the offseason acquisition list is deep enough for New Orleans to be able to select the top player available without being saddled with “need’’ picks.

That is a matter of opinion. If Loomis and coach Jim Haslett indeed are comfortable with the team’s stable of linebackers, Saints’ fans are hoping they know something that none of us saw last season.

Picking up Orlando Ruff from San Diego was a start, but not a finish. Darrin Smith looked old and ineffective last year, while Sedrick Hodge’s lack of aggressive revealed no signs as a future playmaker.

James Allen was great on special teams, but so was Hodge two years ago.

To me, linebacker still qualifies as a major need area. The problem is that linebacker might be the weakest position available in this year’s crop.

Only speedy outside linebacker Boss Bailey (6-3, 233, 4.38) of Georgia and inside guy E.J. Henderson (6-0, 245, 4.85) of Maryland are expected to go in the first round. Bailey is a projected four to five picks ahead of the Saints’ spots at 17 and 18, while Henderson will likely go somewhere between 16 and 20.

The wrap on Henderson is that he’s a two-down linebacker, much like Ruff, so would likely come out on passing downs. The knock on Bailey is that he’s small enough to play strong safety. He’s also fast enough at linebacker to blow by either of the Saints’ starting safeties from last season.

And being in the same division with MIchael Vick tells me that Loomis needs to do whatever it takes to nab Bailey just in case he turns out to be an impact player. Even if he’s not a perennial Pro Bowl, something can be done with 4.38-40 speed on a 6-3 frame.

By the way, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has New Orleans taking Iowa tight end Dallas Clark (6-3, 256, 4.61) and Miami, Fla. defensive tackle William Joseph (6-5, 308, 4.92).

Clark is out after signing Ernie Conwell from St. Louis last week. Joseph, meanwhile, sounds fine to me. There are five first-round defensive tackles available and he’s got as much raw talent as any of them. It’s just a matter of keeping his engine running.

If they pass on Henderson, a tackle would seem to be a must. New faces are needed to stop the run, because last year’s bunch didn’t get it done.

Other predictions that I’ve heard include: Miami defensive end Jerome McDougle (6-2, 264, 4.63), USC safety Troy Polamalu (5-10, 206, 4.33) and Oklahoma cornerback Andre Woolfolk (6-1, 197, 4.48) and don’t be shocked if an offensive lineman is taken early.

Also, keep an eye out on a trade. Any team with two first-rounders will get plenty of calls.

If I were Loomis, I’d trade up to get Bailey. If you stay put, take the best defensive tackle left and Henderson. If Henderson isn’t there, then trade down on the second pick.

But then again, I’m not Loomis. He, publicly anyway, thinks New Orleans is OK at linebacker, while I’m having trouble finding a team that I wouldn’t trade the Saints’ linebacker corps for straight up.

I concur. ;) What the hell are we going to do about these bums?

pakowitz 04-24-2003 10:08 AM

Saints still have holes on defense
yea, man, i was starting to wonder about you

WhoDat 04-24-2003 02:22 PM

Saints still have holes on defense
Hey man - just b/c a guy cries a lot doesn\'t mean he\'s wrong. Just b/c 15 million people say a dumb thing doesn\'t mean it\'s any less dumb? You know what I mean? I don\'t know anything about this Foote character, but he\'s dead on with this one. Find another team with three worse linebackers for me.

In any case, I was actually in New Orleans on business for the last week do a major system implementation... it\'s round the clock kind of work, and what free time I did have I tried to use to insert as many crawfish into my stomach and as many beers into my liver as possible! ;) I\'m back though... next time I\'ll warn ya\'ll before I go. Don\'t want you two worrying about me now.

SaintStoneyMount 04-25-2003 08:10 AM

Saints still have holes on defense
We should try to get Boss Bailey. I watched him play a lot. (I,m in Georgia) The kid is awesome. He has had injuries, and bad ones in the past. But seems to have recovered well. I would like to see Boss in Black and Gold. Plus Da Lambs want him and I like to see the Saints screw the Rams around.

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