this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Team Report: Inside Slant Inside Slant | Notes and Quotes | Strategy and Personnel Needless to say, the Saints had an extremely busy and eventful few days leading up to the draft -- and it only got better after that ...
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Team Report: Inside Slant
Inside Slant | Notes and Quotes | Strategy and Personnel
Needless to say, the Saints had an extremely busy and eventful few days leading up to the draft -- and it only got better after that for first-year coach Sean Payton.
Even with an eye on the youngsters coming out in the draft, the Saints still managed to solidify several positions on their roster with the addition of three veteran players.
To start, the Saints, who have only Todd Bouman and Adrian McPherson listed as the backups to quarterback Drew Brees, signed former St. Louis Rams backup Jamie Martin just two days before the draft. He agreed to a two-year deal to compete for the No. 2 spot behind Brees.
Then, in a couple of shrewd moves, the Saints traded down nine spots in the second round with the Cleveland Browns to obtain center Jeff Faine and did the same thing in the fourth round -- dropping down nine spots -- to get defensive tackle Hollis Thomas from the Philadelphia Eagles.
After losing Pro Bowler LeCharles Bentley to the Browns in free agency, the Saints were in search of a starting center and Faine fit the bill. The Saints then chose Alabama safety Roman Harper with the pick they got from the Browns.
The best part of the deal is Faine, a first-round draft pick of the Browns in 2003, comes to the Saints with a palatable price tag. He's signed through 2009 with base salaries of $538,750 (2006), $701,250 (2007), $863,750 (2008) and $1.026 million (2009).
The Saints then worked the same kind of deal with the Eagles. In addition to Thomas, who will add depth to the interior of a defensive line that lists Brian Young and Willie Whitehead as the starters, the Saints picked up the Eagles' fourth-round selection and grabbed Bloomsburg tackle Jahri Evans.
In addition to getting the most exciting player in the draft in running back Reggie Bush, the Saints went for depth with their other seven picks after filling several needs in free agency.
Of course, Bush gives the Saints an extremely stacked -- and talented -- backfield, joining two-time Pro Bowl pick Deuce McAllister and former Minnesota Vikings running back Michael Bennett.
McAllister, who missed the final 11 games of the 2005 season after undergoing surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, and Bennett were both selected in the first round of the 2001 draft -- giving the Saints three No. 1s in their backfield.
Bush's acquisition is the third major move the organization has made since returning from its temporary home in San Antonio in January. First the Saints hired Sean Payton to replace fired coach Jim Haslett, then they signed Brees, a former Pro Bowl quarterback, as a free agent.
"I know as an organization, ownership, everyone involved in the personnel and coaching staff," Payton said, "these are exciting times for this city and everyone in this region."
"In our mind, Reggie Bush is the best player in the draft," said Saints general manager Mickey Loomis.
Of course, everything the Saints got after Bush was sort of anti-climatic, but the team was able to fill some holes on the roster, though it couldn't pass on Alabama safety Roman Harper in the second round. He will join a secondary that already includes six safeties.
The Saints had no pick in the third round, so on the second day they targeted depth and special teams. They added tackles Jahri Evans (fourth round) and Zach Strief (seventh round), defensive end Rob Ninkovich (fifth round), cornerback Josh Lay (sixth round), and wide receivers Mike Hass (sixth round) and Marques Colston (seventh round).
Colston projects as a tight end in the pros.
A closer look at the Saints' picks:
Round 1/2 -- Reggie Bush, RB, 5-11, 203, USC
The Saints didn't go into the draft needing a running back, but getting a player with Bush's ability was a no-brainer as far as they were concerned. His speed, versatility and the ability to make would-be tacklers miss in a variety of ways made this an easy choice.
Round 2/43 -- Roman Harper, S, 6-0, 198, Alabama
Once again, the Saints didn't need another player at this position with six safeties already on the roster, but his reputation as a solid run defender and his solid instincts convinced the Saints to go for him. Harper was honored as an all-Southeastern Conference first-team pick for one of the best defenses in the nation last season.
Round 4/108 -- Jahri Evans, T, 6-4, 330, Bloomsburg
Was a solid pass defender and dominant run blocker for the eighth-ranked rushing offense in Division II. Evans earned All-America honors as a junior and senior, anchoring an offensive line that allowed 13 sacks in 12 games in his final season. Is considered a hard worker with a good attitude.
Round 5/135 -- Rob Ninkovich, DE, 6-2, 252, Purdue
Started the final five games of his senior season and finished with six sacks, 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and an interception. He also played on the kickoff and kickoff return teams after spending two seasons at Joliet (Ill.) Junior College. He was a long snapper in junior college.
Round 6/171 -- Mike Hass, WR, 6-1, 209, Oregon State
Came a long way after starting his college career as a walk-on, winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver as a senior. While he isn't considered a deep threat, he improved his time in the 40 from 4.61 at the combine workouts to 4.5 at his pro day.
Round 6/174 -- Josh Lay, CB, 6-0, 196, Pittsburgh
Has long arms, good instincts and good ball skills, but has only average speed. He was a first-team all-Big East Conference pick as a senior with 29 tackles and three interceptions. He is an excellent athlete, playing wide receiver and quarterback in high school.
Round 7/210 -- Zach Strief, T, 6-7, 335, Northwestern
An enormous player who started the last 40 games of his career at right tackle. A consistent and steady player who anchored the line on an offense that averaged more than 500 yards per game last season, the second-highest figure in Big Ten history.
Round 7/252 -- Marques Colston, TE, 6-4, 223, Hofstra
A college wide receiver who projects as a pro tight end because of his large hands and frame. Has average speed, but is tough and athletic. He had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the East-West Shrine Game, capping his senior season after missing 2004 with a shoulder injury.