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Two Assessments of the Saints Needs

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 2008 DRAFT NEEDS Posted by Mike Florio on April 9, 2008, 8:40 p.m. Here’s a look at the perceived draft needs of the New Orleans Saints, with heavy input from Matt Miller and David Gardner of NewEraScouting.com. ...

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Old 04-18-2008, 05:50 PM   #1
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Two Assessments of the Saints Needs

Posted by Mike Florio on April 9, 2008, 8:40 p.m.
Here’s a look at the perceived draft needs of the New Orleans Saints, with heavy input from Matt Miller and David Gardner of NewEraScouting.com.

Cornerback: The team’s best corner, veteran Mike McKenzie, tore an ACL near the end of last year, and he’s going to be 32 heading into this season. The Saints are hoping that last year’s third-round pick, Usama Young, will develop into a starter. At the very least, they’re hoping that he’ll compete for the starting job with free-agent acquisition Randall Gay. That would move last year’s worst free-agent signing, Jason David to the dime, if he can hold off newcomer Aaron Glenn. They reportedly are interested in Mike Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, one of whom likely will be the second corner taken. Later in the draft, they might like Terrell Thomas and Patrick Lee.

Defensive tackle: Both of the Saints’ starting defensive tackles at the beginning of last season, Brian Young and Hollis Thomas, will be 30 or older coming into this season. Even backups Kendrick Clancy and Antwan Lake will both be 29. The Saints are looking to improve against the pass and against the run. They were middle of the pack in both categories: nineteenth in sacks, fifteenth in opponent’s yards per carry. The bigger need, however, will be the pass rush, which would bolster the Saints’ secondary against the pass, and take pressure off defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant.The Saints might actually use the tenth pick in the draft at this position, if the right player is available. If Sedrick Ellis somehow manages to slip past the Bengals, who own the ninth overall pick, the Saints shouldn’t hesitate to take him. If they choose to wait until later in the draft, they could go for a player like Letroy Guion of Florida State.

Linebacker: The main concern of this corps is on the weak side. Scott Shanle is more valuable as a versatile backup than he is as a starter. The Saints signed former Panthers middle linebacker Dan Morgan with the hope that he would replace Shanle; however, he has only played in four games in the past two seasons and is getting up there in age. On the strong side, the Saints have defensive captain Scott Fujita. He has excelled in the position, but he lacks a serviceable backup.The Saints should look to add some youth to the position with a versatile young player who can play on either side and can be developed to take over the weakside if Dan Morgan can’t stay healthy.

Center: Entering free agency, the Saints had two centers ready to become free agents. Rather than signing starter Jeff Faine to a market deal (he received 6-year, $37.5 million contract from the Buccaneers), they decided to re-sign his backup, Jonathan Goodwin. A fifth-round pick of the Jets in 2002, Goodwin started two games at center last season. Many think that he will be able to seamlessly slide into Faine’s spot, but Faine has been a legitimate top-five center in the league over the past two seasons.Depth might be needed here; the Saints are reportedly interested in Kory Lichtensteiger (Bowling Green), who could be had on day two.

Tight end: Eric Johnson was not terrible last season, but he was still a bit of disappointment. Although he and veteran Mark Campbell (who missed all of last season) make up a decent duo, the Saints are looking for more of a playmaking tight end to complement their receivers. If they don’t trade for Jeremy Shockey of the Giants, Kentucky tight end/h-back Jacob Tamme could be a good fit here. Although he’s a bit small, he is very smart and is dynamic after the catch.

Running back: Deuce McAllister has appeared in sixteen games only once in seven seasons. No one doubts his production on the field; people just have trouble believing in his ability to stay on it. With McAllister gone for much of 2007, Reggie Bush was not able to run between the tackles, and career-backup Aaron Stecker is not the answer.Although undrafted free agent Pierre Thomas showed some ability at the position, the Saints still need to draft a downhill-style running back who can compliment Bush’s speed.

Quarterback: Veteran Mark Brunell was signed from the Redskins to backup starter Drew Brees, but Brunell is far removed from his best days. Sean Payton is a known quarterback coach, and he was largely responsible for the development of undrafted free agent Tony Romo. Don’t be surprised if the Saints take a quarterback on the second day, with an eye toward developing him for the future.

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Old 04-18-2008, 05:53 PM   #2
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Re: Two Assessments of the Saints Needs

New Orleans (7-9 in 2007)
Head coach: Sean Payton (Third year)
Key needs: 1. Cornerback 2. Defensive tackle 3. Tight end
1. Cornerback - The Saints' secondary was toasted often last season and the team needs to make several changes. Starting safeties Josh Bullocks and Roman Harper are a talented tandem, but the Saints have major needs at corner. They like Troy's Leodis McKelvin and Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie with the 10th overall pick. They like Auburn's Pat Lee and Indiana's Tracy Porter in the second round. They also could select LSU's Chevis Jackson or USF's Trae Williams in the middle rounds.
2. Defensive tackle - The Saints need to improve the interior of their front four. They hope to add a tackle, most likely in the early rounds, but expect LSU's Glenn Dorsey and USC's Sedrick Ellis to be gone when they pick in the first round. If they don't move up to select one of those tackles, they like North Carolina's Kentwan Balmer and will consider him in the first round. They also like Auburn's Pat Sims, Notre Dame's Trevor Laws and Arkansas' Marcus Harrison in the second round and Maryland's Dre Moore and NC State's DeMario Pressley in the third round.
3. Tight end - The Saints' offense has not utilized this position fully in recent seasons, and New Orleans could land a quality prospect in the early rounds such as Notre Dame's John Carlson or Purdue's Dustin Keller. They hope to address this spot with a top-100 selection and like Texas A&M's Martellus Bennett and USC's Fred Davis in the third round.
4. Linebacker - The Saints added veteran 'backers Jonathan Vilma and Dan Morgan via free agency. They are quality, though injury-prone, defenders with the versatility to play a few positions in a 4-3 set. This unit has made few big plays and needs a major overhaul that may include an early round addition. They love USC's Keith Rivers at No. 10 overall and have him on their short list in the first round. In the second round, they love Tennessee's Jerod Mayo, though he probably won't be available at the 40th overall pick. They prefer an inside guy such as Vanderbilt's Jonathan Goff in the third round.
5. Wide receiver - There is little depth behind starters Marques Colston and Devery Henderson. Last year's top pick, Robert Meachem, was a disappointment after he was injured early. The Saints may see fine value on the board in the second round with receivers such as Indiana's James Hardy, Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly and LSU's Early Doucet available. Though wide receiver isn't their strongest need, a top prospect falling to the 40th overall pick or a prospect like Vandy's Earl Bennett being available in the third round would be tough to bypass.
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Old 04-18-2008, 10:43 PM   #3
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Re: Two Assessments of the Saints Needs

So, apparently we have a need everywhere except DE, G, and OT, unless they just ran out of room.
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