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Questions abound for Saints

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Everyone is asking the question. But don't expect Saints general manager Mickey Loomis to give a definitive or straightforward answer until April 29. What will New Orleans do now with the second overall pick in the NFL draft since the ...

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Old 03-19-2006, 08:11 PM   #1
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Questions abound for Saints

Everyone is asking the question.

But don't expect Saints general manager Mickey Loomis to give a definitive or straightforward answer until April 29.

What will New Orleans do now with the second overall pick in the NFL draft since the team's greatest area of need has been filled by the acquisition of free-agent quarterback Drew Brees?

Make no mistake: When Brees put his name on a six-year, $60 million contract last week, the Saints immediately became the biggest player in the April 29-30 draft, even bigger than the Houston Texans, who own the first overall choice.

So, it just makes sense that Loomis won't say anything about his team's plan for the second choice, probably until draft day.

Why?

He doesn't want to de-value the pick that is now the most important, and likely, the most sought-after selection in the draft.

"We're going to leave all of our options open on the second pick, including taking a player there," Loomis said Wednesday at the press conference announcing Brees' signing. "We haven't shied away from trading up, down or taking the pick in the past. Our philosophy about that isn't going to change. We've got a lot of work to do between now and draft time before we decide what the best course of action is for our team."

Loomis said the pursuit and signing of Brees merely continues the Saints' modus operandi regarding free-agency and the draft.

"I think it falls in the line with the same philosophy we've had," Loomis said, "which is, let's fill as many of our needs in free agency so we can get to the draft and take the best player that's available to us.

"That's what our goal has always been. We've been able to do that. Deuce McAllister and Will Smith are direct results of having that philosophy. I don't see that changing. But it definitely gives us the flexibility that we don't have to take a quarterback there. I think before we would have all agreed that quarterback was going to have to be a prime target for us in the draft."

What's next?

Here's what we know as of today.

The Texans, who have bandied about scenarios in which they pass on Southern California running back Reggie Bush, the consensus best player available in the draft, now seem to be firm in their resolve to take the Heisman Trophy winner with the first overall selection.

Houston has locked up quarterback David Carr with a contract extension. Their new coach, Gary Kubiak, is a former quarterback who has earned Super Bowl rings as a player, backing up John Elway with Denver, and a coach.

Mike Sherman, whom the Texans hired as assistant head coach/offense, was the Packers' coach for six years where his starting quarterback was Brett Favre.

Unless we're missing something, one would think Kubiak and Sherman know enough about Super Bowl-caliber quarterbacks to believe that Carr has the tools to get the Texans to that ultimate goal.

Bush would give the Texans a powerful offensive weapon to complement Carr and alleviate the need for Carr to carry the Houston offense, a burden he has shouldered since his rookie season in 2002.

Enter the Saints.

No doubt, they'll be entertaining overtures from the teams drafting behind them, notably Tennessee and the New York Jets, both in the market for quarterbacks.

Will the Titans, in the third spot, want to move up to draft Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart, the top-rated at the position, to reunite him with offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who tutored Leinart at USC?

Or, will the Jets want to trade up with the Saints for a shot at Leinart?

The Packers, who took quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first round last year, may still be looking for a future replacement for Favre. Who better to mentor a young quarterback than a future Hall of Famer? Or will the Packers sit, wait and hope that Leinart drops, or do they take a shot at Texas' Vince Young or Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler?

"I don't know, and I don't care (if anyone believes it)," new Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy told Packers Report this week. "I've always believed in taking the best player available, and that's what we're going to do."

The Titans and Jets, not surprisingly, aren't commenting on their draft plans.

Let's assume the Saints are comfortable enough with the uncertain status of Brees' surgically repaired throwing shoulder and have no intention of picking a quarterback at No. 2 and that Bush is picked by the Texans.

With the Saints on the clock, they could opt to select Virginia left offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, whom many consider the second-best player in the draft behind Bush, or North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams.

Ferguson could protect Brees' blindside for the rest of his career, or Williams could give the Saints an outside speed rusher who had 14 ½ sacks last season.

Or, if the Jets want to trump Tennessee to get Leinart to give them a marquee quarterback that would rival the Giants' Eli Manning for attention, New York could offer a sweet deal to the Saints by swapping positions and adding players, perhaps including defensive end John Abraham, their franchise player, who is shopping his talents around the league.

He's searching for a lucrative, long-term contract.

Does Brees' signing indicate the, at times, penurious Saints are willing to loosen their purse strings to obtain talent?

If the Titans think the Jets are about to do business with New Orleans, do they desire Leinart so greatly that they offer a more enticing trade? What if, by draft day, the Saints become concerned with the rehabilitation progress of Brees' shoulder?

Does that put Leinart or Young back in the mix, or, perhaps, Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler, who might still be on the board at five, six or seven? What about Ohio State's A.J. Hawk, the best linebacker on the board? He'd fill out a Saints linebacking unit that is thin.

Or should the Texans unexpectedly come to the conclusion that David Carr isn't good enough to lead them to the Super Bowl, but Leinart, or Houston-native Young is, and the Texans pass on Reggie Bush. Would the Saints, perhaps because of doubts about the health of McAllister's reconstructed right knee, pick Bush?

All questions will be answered in 41 days


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