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after bush, draft day 2 lagniappe for saints fans

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; More From The Times-Picayune | Subscribe To The Times-Picayune After Bush, draft's Day 2 lagniappe for Saints fans Monday, May 01, 2006 John DeShazier The NFL draft concluded Sunday. The Saints picked a few more players, swung a trade for ...

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Old 05-01-2006, 06:44 PM   #1
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after bush, draft day 2 lagniappe for saints fans

More From The Times-Picayune | Subscribe To The Times-Picayune
After Bush, draft's Day 2 lagniappe for Saints fans
Monday, May 01, 2006
John DeShazier
The NFL draft concluded Sunday. The Saints picked a few more players, swung a trade for another and agreed to terms with some free-agent rookies.

Forgive the absence of detail and lack of excitement. It's hard to produce clear thought, let alone rev to the point of hyperventilation, while still operating under the influence of Reggie.

Sure, there's the temptation to blow a little smoke and assign a grade to a draft class that, today, can't possibly be graded accurately. The opportunity is present to say that, by and large, the Saints were extremely solid over the weekend. Probably more than ever, that could be said, considering the team also managed to acquire two veteran starters for a pittance.

But, really, it's hard not to think of the Saints' draft class as more than a one-man show.

"I think it's a big deal," Saints director of player personnel Rick Mueller said of drafting Reggie Bush. "It ought to be. This kid is special."

Sincere apologies to offensive lineman Jahri Evans, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, wide receiver Mike Hass, cornerback Josh Lay, offensive lineman Zack Strief and receiver Marques Colston, the Saints' picks in Rounds 4 through 7 on Sunday. And to Hollis Thomas, the 10-year veteran defensive tackle the Saints acquired from Philadelphia in a trade.

Sunday, obviously, was one of the biggest days in their lives. Maybe, when we look back on it in three or five years, the consensus will be the back half of the 2006 draft and the draft-day trades helped push the Saints into the playoffs.

For those selected, it was dream-come-true stuff, each accomplishing his goal of being picked by an NFL team. For Thomas, it might be a dream-come-true deal for the Saints, who gave up peanuts (swapping fourth-round slots with the Eagles) for a player that might be a valuable contributor, if not a starter.

"I'm glad to be wanted, basically," said Thomas, whose departure from Philadelphia was assured when the Eagles drafted Brodrick Bunkley in the first round Saturday.

But Bush was, and remained, the jewel of the weekend. Was, and remained, the sexiest, most-hyped, most eagerly anticipated Saints addition since the franchise opened for business.

True, the trades the team executed Saturday and Sunday, for center Jeff Faine and Thomas, should pay immediate dividends if both are healthy enough to play the entire season -- no given, since neither has managed to do so in each of the past three. Maybe, even, the rest of the picks will come in and fill roles, although if any proves to be anything more than a reserve this season, it probably won't be a good thing.

"We had a lot of things we wanted to address," Mueller said. "I don't know that I can say we addressed everything we set out to do. (But) I think we added some good players. I think we addressed a lot of needs. I think we got better."

Which, to Saints fans, sounded a lot like this:

Reggie.

It's going to be next to impossible not to load too much expectation onto the shoulders of the No. 2 overall pick, the Saints' highest since the franchise drafted George Rogers at No. 1 in 1981.

There's no such thing as a first-rounder who isn't expected to be a starter. A top-five pick is a projected Pro Bowl player. With experts labeling Bush one of the best running back prospects ever, it'll be a chore to measure up to the things he has the potential to do.

So for now, with the focus drawn to one, the rest of the draft class looks a lot like lagniappe. No intended slight to the other picks, who aren't likely to approach their roles any less zealously than Bush.

But Sunday, it was a chore for the city to do back flips over them when it already had flipped out.
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