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iceshack149 04-27-2003 07:31 PM

Jay Glazer
O.K., I'll try not to underline everthing this time.
By Jay Glazer Senior Writer

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints supposedly were trading up to get cornerback Marcus Trufant. They supposedly were trying to trade up into the top five to get Terence Newman.

Georgia's Johnathan Sullivan sacks Georgia Tech QB Damarius Bilbo.(AP)
They traded up, just not for a guy anybody ever associated them with. The Saints floored the rest of the draft world when they grabbed Georgia's massive defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan after trading up with Arizona for the sixth pick of the draft.

Actually, the other teams weren't the only ones floored.

"I didn't know I was going to go as high as No. 6," Sullivan said. "I figured I'd go like 10 or 11. I didn't expect it, but I'm extremely happy right now."

Sullivan might have been happy but the Saints were ecstatic. Seconds after making the trade with the Cardinals, the Saints handed their card to the commissioner.

"He's very athletic and had a lot of upside and he's very powerful," Saints director of personnel Rick Mueller said. "Are we happy now? Absolutely. We got a guy who we really wanted.

"He's a guy who plays with outstanding leverage. He can play the nose. He can play the three-technique. We play against Michael Vick and some other quarterbacks in the league who can move around pretty good. He gives us quickness and is a guy who can push the pocket, get outside the pocket and run somebody down."

The fact the Saints were trying to move up was hardly a secret. However, their target was expected to be a cornerback. In reality, they ended up drafting the fifth-rated player on their board with the draft's sixth pick.

"I thought the two best guys for us were the defensive tackle for Kentucky (Dewayne Robertson) and Sullivan," coach Jim Haslett said. "They both run well, they are both juniors. He's just starting to mature and extremely physical. He has a great first step and we love his mean streak."

Making the Saints' trade even more appealing was the bounty they received on the back end of the deal. In exchange for the Saints' two first-rounders (No. 17 and No. 18), New Orleans convinced the Cardinals to swap second-rounders and thus move up 17 slots in the coveted second round. They also recouped a fourth-rounder, a round they did not have a selection in heading into the day.

That second-rounder ended up being another Georgia Bulldog to go along with Sullivan and last year's first-rounder DE Charles Grant. They grabbed 6-foot-5, 306-pound guard/tackle Jon Stinchcomb with the 37th pick.

"I asked him after we took him if he minded playing again with Charles and Johnathan," Haslett said. "He told me, 'Coach, I've been with them the last five years.' I asked him what about the next 10? He said, 'Geesh coach that one may be tough, but if I've gotta do it, I'll do it coach.' He was pretty funny.

"We are very lucky to have him still on the board there. Swapping those No. 2s were huge for us."

Stinchcomb is slated to begin his pro career as a tackle but can also work in as a guard.

"My whole family is here and I don't think I can put into words how excited everybody here is," he said moments after the pick. "I received the call from Coach Haslett telling me they wanted to take me, but then there was about 10 minutes until I got the final call. The key to this whole thing is waiting and keeping your sanity."

The Saints then grabbed high-motor linebacker Cie Grant from Ohio State with the 86th selection.

"We got a really good player with that first pick and it was at our No. 1 need position," general manager Mickey Loomis said. "Coming into the day, if you would have told us we could get starters, guys who we know could start for us at some point, in the first two picks, and a guy with a real big upside in the third round, we would be very happy."

Not happier than Sullivan or Stinchcomb.

Senior writer Jay Glazer has been granted access from behind the closed doors of the New Orleans Saints war room.

How do these teams use the endless information to construct their value board? What exactly transpires behind the scenes in a war room before, during and after the draft? How much action occurs between teams? How do the coaches, scouts, GMs and the owner work toward coming to a decision round upon round? What happens in the first hours of a draft pick's pro career?

Glazer, positioned in the Saints draft room throughout the weekend, will be writing a series of features starting Monday, providing a first-hand look from the "other side" with owner Tom Benson, general manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Jim Haslett, director of personnel Rick Mueller and other Saints officials in a inside the NFL Draft 2003.

JOESAM2002 04-27-2003 07:36 PM

Jay Glazer
Another great post Ice. Keep\'em coming. Keep us up to date on this line please.

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