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pakowitz 05-02-2003 02:17 AM

Draft Dish and Unfinished Business

The Saints accomplished their primary goal by trading into the No. 6 spot to land tackle Johnathan Sullivan, the No. 2-rated defensive lineman on their board. Dewayne Robertson was No. 1, but he was taken at No. 4.

Desperate for a young playmaker at tackle, the team knew it had to be aggressive and made the bold move to nab Sullivan, who also had drawn interest from the Patriots, Vikings and Seahawks.

Sullivan is the athletic interior lineman the Saints want to team with young ends Darren Howard and Charles Grant. Sullivan will play the nose tackle position opposite Grady Jackson, Kenny Smith or Willie Whitehead.

In Sullivan, Grant and Howard, the team has one of the most precocious and athletic lines in the league. ...

In Rounds 2 and 4, the Saints accomplished their secondary goal of improving the depth, youth and athletic ability of the offensive line. Tackle Jon Stinchcomb and guard Montrae Holland are future starters and should team with guard LeCharles Bentley on the starting front five for years to come. Stinchcomb and Holland fit the mold of Saints linemen with their nasty, physical play. ...

Outside linebacker Cie Grant, defensive end Melvin Williams and wide receivers Kareem Kelly and Talman Gardner improve depth at key positions. The club is extremely high on Grant. It believes he was one of the three best linebackers in the draft.


Free agent center Jerry Fontenot is close to re-signing. Getting that deal done will solidify the offensive line. He played well last season and is the team's most experienced and savvy lineman. His return is critical to the continuity of a unit that already is trying to replace left tackle Kyle Turley. ...

The team is considering signing strong safety Victor Green, who played with the Patriots last season. The Saints would like to add another veteran defensive back and like Green's experience and versatility. His signing is not as pressing as Fontenot's because of the recent addition of free safety Tebucky Jones. ...

The Saints will look to add a veteran wide receiver, cornerback and linebacker after the June 1 roster cuts. ...

The size of the club's undrafted rookie class is an indication of how solid and deep the roster is. The team plans to sign nine or 10 undrafted rookie free agents. Three years ago, it signed almost 20.

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