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MIKE DETILLER'S FOOTBALL WORLD

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; MIKE DETILLER'S FOOTBALL WORLD Will another former Georgia star player join the Saints? By MIKE DETILLIER Special to The Courier The start of NFL free agency is just hours away and New Orleans Saints fans are anxiously waiting, as usual, ...

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Old 03-06-2006, 06:34 PM   #1
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MIKE DETILLER'S FOOTBALL WORLD

MIKE DETILLER'S FOOTBALL WORLD
Will another former Georgia star player join the Saints?

By MIKE DETILLIER
Special to The Courier

The start of NFL free agency is just hours away and New Orleans Saints fans are anxiously waiting, as usual, to see what direction the team will turn in an attempt to rebuild this team.

I really don’t look for the Saints to be major players in the free-agent market, but I do see the Saints making an attempt to upgrade their linebacker corps and to add a quality starter on the offensive line.

One player to keep a close eye on is Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Will Witherspoon.

If the Saints invest some major dollars in a player, I really believe that player will be Witherspoon.

It’s no secret that more than one high ranking member of the Saints front office really covets the services of Witherspoon, and the word around NFL circles is New Orleans will make a hard, early run to secure them.

Witherspoon, 25, was the Panthers’ leading tackler in 2004 with 110 tackles, and last season he registered 80 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and two pass interceptions.

Many NFL scouts felt Witherspoon played well enough to be voted to the Pro Bowl, but with a tight salary cap, the Panthers just were unable to come to terms on a contract with the very productive weak-side linebacker.

While the Carolina would love to keep Witherspoon, it does have options after using its first-round choice in the 2005 draft on Witherspoon’s replacement at the University of Georgia, linebacker Thomas Davis.

A prominent sports agent with some knowledge of Witherspoon’s contract status said he thinks Witherspoon will sign with the Saints or the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Will would be a good addition to the Saints," the agent said. "When you look at the pool of linebackers available, Witherspoon and (San Francisco 49ers versatile linebacker) Julian Peterson would certainly be the best outside linebackers available. And with some question marks about a future CBA still in limbo, this will be Will’s chance to really cash in big time. I can tell you that Witherspoon is a good businessman and he will weigh all his options, but I really think it will boil down to either New Orleans or Jacksonville.

"The Saints have an obvious need for a quality outside linebacker who is still young, and they should know all about his strengths and weaknesses having to play Witherspoon twice a year since the Panthers drafted him in the third round of the 2002 draft," the agent added. "But I wouldn’t count out the Jaguars. Remember that Jack Del Rio was the defensive coordinator of the Panthers back in 2002, and he had a great working relationship with all those players, especially the linebackers. Will likes and respects Jack quite a bit, and I know Del Rio has not hidden his desire to try and acquire Will."

While Witherspoon has not put up great numbers in the NFL, the one thing that really sticks out for me is that he is not a linebacker you have to replace in certain down-and-distance situations.

Witherspoon plays the run very well, but he is also a good cover man in obvious third-down situations. When you have to pay more than top dollar for a player, you want one who is young, a solid citizen, has come from a winning background and can do more than one good thing out on the field.

As far as I’m concerned, Witherspoon would be a good fit, and he comes with all four important traits you want in a high-profile signee. But to be honest, the Saints will have to beat out some heavy competition for his services.

If the Saints land Witherspoon, he would join three other former Bulldogs standouts on New Orleans’ roster: defensive end Charles Grant, defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan and offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb.

While the Jaguars have a coaching connection with Witherspoon in Del Rio, the Saints have one, too.

The Saints’ new defensive coordinator, Gary Gibbs, was the defensive coordinator at Georgia when Witherspoon was a starting linebacker as a junior in 2000.

MIKE D’S TOP 12 FREE AGENTS

1. Shaun Alexander, running back, Seattle Seahawks. I just have a hunch he will resign with the Seahawks.

2. Edgerrin James, running back, Indianapolis Colts. The Colts would love to bring him back somehow, but without an extension to the league’s CBA and more cap money for next season, it seems hard to believe he will return. The Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos seem to be good fits for James.

3. LeCharles Bentley, center, Saints. Early speculation had the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns as the front-runners for Bentley, but it almost seems a certainty now he will land with the Philadelphia Eagles.

4. Drew Brees, quarterback, San Diego Chargers. The Dolphins will have to be creative with their numbers, but Miami looks to be Brees’ next destination -- if he is cleared medically.

5. Charles Woodson, cornerback, Oakland Raiders. Woodson was once considered the best cover-corner in the NFL, but his play and attitude have declined over the past two seasons. While he’s still a (begin italics) good (end italics) football player, he will find out quickly that he is not considered an (begin italics) elite (end italics) player anymore.

6. Terrell Owens, wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles. The market will not be there for the talented, but temperamental star. The Broncos, Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys will be interested.

7. Antwaan Randle El, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers. He is a versatile athlete, who makes an impact as a receiver, runner and special-teams ace. The Chicago Bears, Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants might be the top teams on his list.

8. Jamal Lewis, running back, Baltimore Ravens. He is still a top-flight runner, but he seemed to be sluggish in 2005. Lewis is still a real strong inside runner with some breakaway speed and he might be right for either the Vikings or the Green Bay Packers.

9. Julian Peterson, outside linebacker, 49ers. While he was not the dominant player in 2005 that he had been in the past, he is still quite an athlete. He might be a great fit for the Browns or Bengals.

10. Will Witherspoon, outside linebacker, Panthers. He is a fine all-around athlete, who has good football instincts and excellent athletic gifts. The Saints, Jaguars and St. Louis Rams will vie for his services.

11. Maake Kemoeatu, defensive tackle, Baltimore Ravens. Who? Well, most NFL fans will be shocked to see how many teams are interested in this big guy in the middle. Kemoeatu is not a pass rusher, but few teams run up the middle on the Ravens because of him.

12. La’Roi Glover, defensive tackle, Cowboys.

His big salary-cap number and Bill Parcells’ change in defensive philosophy led to his release. Believe me, this guy can still play at a high level.

Bé-Bé’S KIDS

Ole Miss coach and Larose native Ed "Bé-Bé" Orgeron landed a top 15 recruiting class and is still adding to those impressive numbers.

Orgeron, looking to add another big offensive lineman to the 2006 class, recently landed Scotlandville High School offensive guard Daverin Geralds.

Geralds, a 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, was also considering Duke and Georgia Tech in the recruiting process.

Orgeron also has a huge jump on the 2007 recruiting class. The former South Lafourche star lineman has already received verbal commitments from 12 juniors this spring.

Orgeron, who will be entering his second season at Ole Miss in the fall after being the defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator at Southern California, has landed three players from Louisiana.

Ole Miss has received verbal commitments from Dion Gales, a 6-6, 27-5pound defensive end out of John F. Kennedy High in New Orleans, John Ehret High’s 6-1, 295-pound defensive tackle Drake Nevis, and former L.B. Landry and current French Settlement High School star offensive tackle Alex Williams.

Williams, 6-6, 290, was being recruited by LSU, Florida, Florida State and Mississippi State, before committing to the Rebels.

(DRAFT) PICKS OF THE LITTER

The NFL draft is less than two months away and there seems to be some firm footing on the ratings of the top players for the 2006 annual college draft. Here are my top 28 players available for the April draft:

1. Reggie Bush, running back, USC

2. Matt Leinart, quarterback, USC

3. Vince Young, quarterback, Texas

4. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, offensive tackle, Virginia

5. Mario Williams, defensive end, North Carolina State

6. Jay Cutler, quarterback, Vanderbilt

7. A.J. Hawk, outside linebacker, Ohio State

8. Michael Huff, cornerback/safety, Texas

9. Haloti Ngata, defensive tackle, Oregon

10. Vernon Davis, tight end, Maryland

11. DeAngelo Williams, running back, Memphis

12. LenDale White, running back, USC

13. Winston Justice, offensive tackle, USC

14. Chad Greenway, outside linebacker, Iowa

15. Brodrick Bunkley, defensive tackle, Florida State

16. Tamba Hali, defensive end, Penn State

17. Tye Hill, cornerback, Clemson

18. Jimmy Williams, cornerback/safety, Virginia Tech

19. Gabe Watson, defensive tackle, Michigan

20. Santonio Holmes, wide receiver, Ohio State

21. Ernie Sims, outside linebacker, Florida State

22. Laurence Maroney, running back, Minnesota

23. Kamerion Wimbley, defensive end, Florida State

24. Marcus McNeil, offensive tackle, Auburn

25. Chad Jackson, wide receiver Florida

26. Darnell Bing, safety, USC

27. Nick Mangold, offensive center, Ohio State

28. Sinorice Moss, wide receiver, Miami.

NFL analyst Mike Detillier is based in Raceland.

http://www.houmatoday.com/apps/pbcs..../1103/SPORTS02
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Old 03-06-2006, 08:25 PM   #2
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Good post. Witherspoon would definetely be an upgrade and would mean we could target a corner in the second round. We also should look to sign a DT like Maake Kemoeatu of Baltimore. Our defense would instantly be better against the run which has plagued us the past few years.
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Old 03-06-2006, 08:38 PM   #3
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Some of Mike's top 28 are very suspect, Bunkley will be an early 2nd at best. No way Hill goes before Williams, where did Watson come from? Wimbley is good but I don't think before mid 2nd round.
Just one mans opinion. Good read and Tigger.
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