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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; This weekend's draft is history, but the gameplan laid out by the New Orleans Saints were thought out months ago. Despite all the national media hype about the Saints and in particular, head coach Jim Haslett's infatuation for cornerbacks Terence ...

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Old 04-28-2003, 01:54 PM   #1
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

This weekend's draft is history, but the gameplan laid out by the New Orleans Saints were thought out months ago.
Despite all the national media hype about the Saints and in particular, head coach Jim Haslett's infatuation for cornerbacks Terence Newman and Marcus Trufant, it was all about getting a top defensive tackle with the top pick.

For a while I fell for the double-talk, but after speaking to head coach Jim Haslett a few weeks back, I got the feeling he was trying to lure me into the same media trap.

I felt the jaws of the trap hit close, but I also felt deep inside, his talk about cornerback was just that, talk, and that he had a defensive tackle in mind.

Indeed that was the case.

Haslett's number one player on his wish list was Kentucky defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson. Haslett knew he must put out this cover story to mask what he really wanted, the draft's top defensive tackle.
For weeks Haslett planned and schemed to move up high enough to snag the Kentucky defensive tackle, but Friday morning the New York Jets trumped his pair of jacks.

The Jets threw down their two first round pick cards, numbers 12 and 22 and the Chicago Bears grabbed the deal.

This left the Saints in jam. Their number two defensive tackle, Georgia's Johnathan Sullivan, would be long gone by pick 17 and 18 and the Saints would have to move up high, very high, to snag him.

In conversations with Saints officials days before the draft it became apparent to them that the only top six defensive tackle that could be there would be Texas A&M's Ty Warren, but it was no sure shot deal.
The Saints liked Warren, but again there was no assurance he would still be around. Their fall back player was USC safety Troy Polamalu, but even he was no sure thing in the middle of the first round.
With no assurance that either Warren or Polamulu would be around, the Saints decided to roll the dice and move up, and move up big, in Round One.
Johnathan Sullivan had been a player the Saints had eyed, along with Robertson for the past few weeks. Sullivan's draft stock had soared the past few weeks also, which made it apparent the team would have to move up to get him.

At one time the Saints thought a deal to the 10th spot would do the trick, but the wild card in the deck, was the New England Patriots. The Patriots had also talked to the same teams as the Saints as for as moving up was concerned and the Pats had the same two people in mind, Robertson and Sullivan.

A late visit to Minnesota by Sullivan had the Saints giving thoughts to the fact that he also could be selected at the #7 spot.

The Patriots under Bill Belichick covers their secrets closer than any CIA agent and with that thought in mind, the Saints targeted a team they felt as though could assure them of Sullivan.

Saints general manger Mickey Loomis was looking for a pigeon to make a deal and if there is any bigger pigeon in the NFL to pluck it's the Arizona Cardinals.
If you think the Saints history of bad drafts are historic, just check out what the Cardinals have done the past 25 years, or for that sake, this year.

Once the Jets picked Robertson at pick four and the Dallas Cowboys selected Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman, the Saints struck the deal to obtain Sullivan, but there was a catch.

Loomis had the Cardinals swap second round picks, the Saints ended up with pick #37 and the Cardinals ended up with pick #54, and he had the Cardinals throw in a fourth round selection. Done deal.

Looking back to the conversations with Saints officials in the days leading up to the draft, they were almost 100% correct. The top five defensive tackles, Robertson, Sullivan, Jimmy Kennedy, Kevin Williams and Warren were off the board by the time the Saints would have picked at 17.
The only top defensive tackle left was Miami's William Joseph, but there were major concerns about his inconsistent play and his tendency to take plays off.
Even the Saints fall back player, USC strong safety Troy Polamalu was off the board, because the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to the 16th pick to snag him.

The Saints ended up with Sullivan, a very solid offensive tackle prospect in Jon Stinchcomb in Round Two and a highly regarded offensive guard, Florida State's Montrae Holland in Round Four.

The Cardinals ended up with Penn State wide receiver Bryant Johnson, Wake Forest defensive end Calvin Pace and Florida State wide receiver Anquan Boldin in exchange for the three picks.

The way I add it up, the Saints stole away a top flight defensive tackle in Johnathan Sullivan and got two future offensive line starters for three solid, but not great prospects.

The price to move up was a high one, but it was for a player at the team's biggest need spot and they needed a top flight defensive tackle in the worse way.

Sullivan is still a work in progress, but in talking to at least three Georgia defensive coaches when piecing together my draft book, they all had the same comment. Every coach muttered the statement that within a few years Sullivan would be a Pro-Bowl performer.

I don't say it often but I feel as though on this deal, the Saints really pulled a fast one on the Cardinals.

For once I was able to finally watch another team get what I perceive as a raw deal and I give Jim Haslett and Mickey Loomis full credit for pulling it off. Well. maybe I shouldn't because just about every team in the NFL has pulled the wool over the eyes of Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell. This time it was the Saints turn to get one over on Mr. Bidwell.

Like in any draft there are always things that don't exactly work out. For the Saints there were a few examples of this just this weekend. While the Saints feel very good about picking up a very solid prospect in Georgia's Jon Stinchcomb, it was another Bulldog that had Jim Haslett excited.

Haslett and the Saints scouting department started to see Georgia's Boss Bailey falling and they wanted to get him in the worst way. The Saints even made a few phone calls to see if there was any way to make a deal to up to get him, but with no pending deal, Haslett does what he normally does, tie up a player's phone line.

While the 2nd round was starting, Haslett was on the phone with Bailey talking to him about the possibility of coming to New Orleans, the Lions were trying to call to inform Bailey they were ready to pick him.

It took a while, but finally the call from the Lions came through just 2 selections before the Saints would have snagged him up.

While there was some debate, about a month ago Jim Haslett told me just how much he liked Texas quarterback Chris Simms. "I feel about him just like Peyton Manning, he's a former player's son who knows the game really well, strong arm, smart and he's going to be a heck of an NFL player. Hell, if enough teams sour on him, we just may do something about it."
As the 3rd Round was ending Haslett was engineering a deal to pick Simms. Reports have it that Haslett would have made a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals to insure himself of Simms, but when the Tampa Bay Bucs selected Simms with the final pick in the 3rd round, the Saints cancelled the deal.

When I evaluate a draft, I always pay close attention to the late and middle round picks. 41% of starters in the NFL were picked in Round Four or later and this is always the heart and soul of every NFL squad.
The three most interesting picks by the Saints were Ohio State linebacker Cie Grant, Florida State wide receiver Talman Gardner and USC wide receiver Kareem Kelly.

Ohio State's Willie "Cie" Grant was a very interesting player in my eyes. He was a prep running back, who started at both outside linebacker and cornerback at Ohio State. Grant is a tremendous athlete, who has excellent foot speed and play-making skills. He has a real nose for the football and once he is locked on to one position, he has the skills to be a very good linebacker in the league.

The Saints plan on eventually moving him to middle linebacker and while there is still some debate on just how well he could play the inside position, there is no doubt he could be a very good weakside linebacker.

The Saints had coveted Grant just minutes after taking Jon Stinchcomb in Round 2.

Minutes after meeting with the media on Stinchcomb, I asked Haslett who he was looking for in the Third Round. He said it quietly, but it was firm, "Cie Grant". That comment was made some 25 picks before he actually selected Grant.

In Round Six the Saints traded away Norman Hand to the Seattle Seahawks and they ended up with USC wide receiver Kareem Kelly in return.

Kelly has always been noted for being a speed receiver who can really stretch defenses, but also as an end who has had some bad work habits and one that can look great in one game and ordinary in others.

Haslett was sold on Kelly by USC head coach Pete Carroll, who assured Haslett that the fleet end had his act straigtened out and that he would be a great pickup.

If Haslett can push the right buttons, Kelly has a chance to be a big time pick-up, but he also has a reputation for being an underachiever.

If the right Kelly shows up in New Orleans, the Saints got one heck of a bargain.

Before Talman Gardner's off the field problems, I rated him as a late second round pick, and so did the Saints.

Gardner has excellent size (6-0 ½, 220) and outstanding foot speed (4.48). He also was a very productive receiver, 71 catches for 1274 yards, averaged 17.9 yards per catch and 19 touchdowns over the past two seasons despite playing with less than stellar quarterbacks in Seminole Country in the last two seasons.

Gardner has admitted he did wrong and that he has learned from his mistake. That mistake cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars, no doubt about it, because he lasted until the seventh round of the draft.
Gardner, who prepped at McDonough 35 in New Orleans is back home and hopefully for the Saints, his off the field problems are history. If so, Gardner's selection could well be one of the best seventh round picks this team has ever had.

I still have major concerns for this team at strong safety and at middle linebacker, but to be honest I like what I see coming out of the 2003 draft.

The Saints still have enough money in the coffers to work out a new deal with wide receiver Joe Horn and pick up a veteran at both safety and middle linebacker.
I would feel a lot better about the Saints in 2003 if those three areas could be cleared up before training camp starts in July..
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Old 04-28-2003, 02:16 PM   #2
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

Damned good post Pak.
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Old 04-28-2003, 03:25 PM   #3
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

I still have major concerns for this team at strong safety and at middle linebacker, but to be honest I like what I see coming out of the 2003 draft.

The Saints still have enough money in the coffers to work out a new deal with wide receiver Joe Horn and pick up a veteran at both safety and middle linebacker.
I would feel a lot better about the Saints in 2003 if those three areas could be cleared up before training camp starts in July..


Can\'t sum it up any better than that, I see we have a good shot with Victor Green to address the safety spot. We seem to have gathered an able group who will contribute from the draft .I personaly would of prefered to see Henderson than Stinchcomb because of need, but Stinchcomb may turn out to be more productive.I Hate to sound like a broken record on this one, but LB, not just middle is all that seriously concerns me still about our roster. We have a young talent laden team that should have an opportunity to contend for a title over the next few years. The are some holes to fill ( no team is perfect particularly in these days of free agency) but we have playmakers and depth on offense at multiple positions, the kind of guys that can take over a game and win it for you. On Defense we have a few who have potential to be such players but have not stepped up to such a level yet. We need such men for this team to rise to the elite of the league. Our defense needs leaders.I have always thought the linbacker position provided a excellent vantage point for a dominate player to enforce his will on the outcome of a game. Howard and Grant have shown us hope for the future at the line and with the addition of Sullivan we have a young fast line that should be able to fight Vick and the other OB\'s with legs in the league. Tebucky provides hope for the safty position and Carter and Ambrose while older players still should more than hold there own on the field. I just do\'nt see such optimism at the LB spots. The inclusion of a playmaker and leader to the linbacking corps would solidify the defense and would go a long way to making our Super Bowl dreams a reality. If our offense produces as it has our defense does not have to win games,but just imange where we can go when it can.

[Edited on 4/28/2003 by saint5221]
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Old 04-28-2003, 05:38 PM   #4
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

Does anyone believe that they\'ll make a move for another LB?
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Old 04-28-2003, 06:09 PM   #5
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

I agree with you on several factors. On the saints website during the draft on saturday and again on sunday, alot of people were moaning about the picks. I read some of the analysis and player profiles. After reading them, I agreed that the saints made a Valiant Draft choice in there draft selections.
Also, Hazlett stated at the end of last season some comments about his philosophy in the draft..VALUE! Value from a coach doesnt come in terms of money, it comes in terms of what can they do for this team and how can they contribute! Bottom line. Haz and company did thier homework and studied the players for this draft. Instead of being the back end of another teams draft objective, the saints have turned the tables and proved they are well on their way to becoming a dominate force on the field and each year at the draft. Hazlett smokedscreened everyone and Time will tell, however, by all accounts, Hazlett could very well have earned him another coach of the year and perhaps a new home for the lombardi trophy!
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Old 04-28-2003, 08:41 PM   #6
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

I am not going to ***** about the drafting of offensive players in the draft. I mostly like the guys we picked up... I just have to TOTALLY disagree with what cajun2yankee said about value though. My major problem with this draft is that we OVERVALUED just about every player we picked up. Sullivan is good, but he was listed as low as the fourth or fifth DT on some boards. He was expected to go at 11, we took him at 6... OK, OK, we had to move up to the Arizona spot to get him. Fine. Then we picked up Stinchcomb probably a full round too early. In fact, you can go all the way through the fourth round and you\'ll find a talented player who fit a Saints area of need, that we passed on. In some rounds (especially the second and third) we passed on many players rated higher by nearly every other team I\'ve seen info on than the guy we selected. No, my problem with the draft is the value sucked. Now, if these guys all turn into Pro Bowlers, great. Then I\'ll eat my words and say I\'m wrong... but I was not the only person saying this. Go back and read the posts from Saturday and Sunday and I bet you will be hard pressed to find a single post that said - \"Hey great pick up. We really got a steal there. What a great value.\" - with the exception maybe of the sixth and seventh rounds.

\"Excuses, excuses, excuses. That’s all anyone ever makes for the New Orleans Saints’ organization.\" - Eric Narcisse

\"Being a Saints fan is almost like being addicted to crack,\"
he said.[i]\"You know you should stop, but you just can\'t.\"
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Old 04-28-2003, 10:16 PM   #7
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

The trade up for the Sullivan was so-so acceptable. I know the only reason I am saying this is because it is not whom I wanted them to pick. The masterful part was the trading 2nd round picks. Then after I saw who was left on the board and whom we picked I was scratching my head. I felt there were better picks available in the first three rounds.
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Old 04-28-2003, 10:24 PM   #8
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

OH NO WHODAT. I love your posts and your very smart but I am gonna disagree with you a little bit.
Sullivan might have been taken to high. Some people think that but it depends on who you talk to. ESPN or SI might have said that he should go 11 but they aren\'t as smart as Rick Mueller and company and neither are we. The Saints had him rated #2 DT. Some had him #5. depends on who is speaking. Bottom line is they made the move to get the guy they want. Time will tell if it was good or bad but you also have to understand that maybe none of the teams picking between 7 and 11 would have taken our trade offer. We had to make the trade to the team that exepted and I believe we took them to the bank.
Stinchcomb or stinky as some of my friends call him.. We will see. I think he will be a good player and justify the pick. Most teams had him rated as a first round talent. That sounds like value for our pick.
The guy I really love is Holland.. He was rated on EVERY board as the number 3 guard and a probable second round pick. This guy is unbelievably powerful and is going to make our interior run blocking AWESOME. He might not start from day one but we will have trouble keeping him off the field.
Talmond Gardner was a second round projection. Some will say he is a risk because of the legal problems but aren\'t all 7th rounders a risk. Most don\'t make the team. He will probably be the number 4 reciever next year. THAT IS VALUE
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Old 04-28-2003, 10:30 PM   #9
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

Gator, if you\'re not in politics you should be. LOL. I really think we all agree that the people we drafted are good picks. I think we all agree that some picks were better \"value\" than others. Now let\'s turn our attention back to free agency. To answer your question Whodat, I think the team will look to find a linebacker in free agency. I sure hope we sign Victor Green also.
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Old 04-28-2003, 10:46 PM   #10
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Mike D comments on the saints draft pics

You do Joe?! Really? Who do you see them going after at LB? Honestly, I\'m not expecting it. I think Haslett is going to go with the bums he has at LB, and they\'ll probably be no better than last year at best. I sure hope they sign a LB, it would just be a surprise to me. Word on the Green comment. Springs would be nice too, but that\'s wishful thinking.
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