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blake6900 04-24-2004 10:45 PM

Draft Day I, rounds 1, 2 & 3
I've been as critical of Haslett/Venturi/Loomis, etc. as anybody else but I must admit I'm pleasantly surprised by what the Saints have accomplished today. Since the top 2 CBs and the top 2 LB's were off the board before the Saints' pick at #18, the team made the most with it and chose someone, Will Smith, who can make an immediate contribution on the D-line and quite possibly at linebacker as well. It appears that this line could easily become the strength of the defense.

Of course one could ask, "Why didn't the Saints take Chris Gamble?" It's a fair question. I would say the answer probably lies in the fact that Gamble was a major drop off from DeAngelo Hall and Dunta Robinson and, frankly, not worthy of an "18th overall" pick. Gamble dropped to 28th and Green Bay drafted Ahmad Carroll three picks before him. Frankly the Saints aren't necessarily that bad at corner right now. There is still plenty of time to deal (perhaps a WR now that New Orleans is so deep at that position" Ty Law, anybody). And there's one more point: A great defensive line can make an ordinary secondary look very good but an ordinary defensive line can make a great secondary look awful.

In other words, the best secondary in the world is an excellent pass rush. Ask Ryan Neuman and Mario Edwards about it. Or Champ Bailey and Fred Smoot.

Courtney Watson could easily become the "find" of this year's draft. A proven run stopper in the middle, Watson possesses the instincts to be not only a force at middle linebacker but a team leader as well. Clearly this is something the Saints' defense has been missing and, coupled with this D-line, I look for New Orleans to no longer be the pushovers against the run that they've been recently. In fact, this defense, with the addition of Mel Mitchell at strong safety and a better tackling Tebuckey Jones, could quickly become one of the league's better units.

One more point about Will Smith: I have nothing to base this on but is it possibly that Haslett and Venturi might be thinking of throwing an occasional 3-4 at their opponents? If so, Smith would be the ideal outside linebacker particularly since he can drop back in pass defense as well as rush the QB. Remember Ricky Jackson? Just something to think about...

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