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BJD7642 04-26-2004 04:19 PM

Part one...........
Part One
The 2004-2005 NFL seasons should be a very interesting year for New Orleans Saint Fans. After the way the season ended, what else should be expected, right? I remember jumping around screaming out anything I could think of, you know just venting. I lashed out at everyone who ever doubted and sold out through out the years……

“Stallworth breaks free!� A couple flips around the field to Aaron making one hell of a block to, Pathon diving over the goal line. I deserve it, we deserve, this opportunity to gloat, to yell out at all the people who wore the bags on their heads and sold out! But then, well at least it wasn’t Morton, (Anderson, who for some reason aint still here). I remember lying on the floor in disbelief from what happened…….

As it turned out the playoffs were so close we still had a chance, right?
All we have to do is beat our biggest rival, the Cowboys! Then get a little help, and I mean a little help, and we are in, right? Well we win, but as we are winning the game we are watching our playoff hopes disappear because we get no help!

To top it off, by winning against the Cowboys we actually moved down just enough spots to make this off- season what it is. So here we go…….

We finished the year with the 18th pick in the draft, one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. Needs: Corner help, line-backer help in the middle, wide-receiver, and some strength on the inside of the defensive-line. Oh yeah, and a kicker!

Should not be a problem, thanks to having 4 picks in the first 81 choices. Our needs just happened to be the deepest positions in the draft. Vilma, Williams, Hall, and Robinson are at the top of our list. Well as it turned out they were all gone, not one worthy LB or one worthy CB, now what? How bout, best available player? Trade down? Let’s see…….

With the 18th pick in the 2004 NFL draft, the New Orleans Saints pick

Will Smith Ohio State
6’3� 267lbs
Defensive End/Inside Linebacker
Utica N.Y.

Will was a three year starter and was going to enter the draft last year until a late season injury made him re-think his options. He decided to stay and finished with 167 tackles and 21 sacks. His 21 sacks rank him 5th among all-time Buckeyes. Also Smith finished with 47 tackles for loss places him 5th all-time also. After finishing his career at such a high level school, he should have no problem making the transition to the next level and should be a hot prospect.
The only negative thing I have to say about him is he could bulk up a little to move the pile more. You can never work on getting of your blocks enough. But that’s about it, very good “value� out of the pick.

Smith brings a variety of moves with him to the next level, along with very good character. He was one of the team leaders on the national championship team and shows very good work ethics. Smith is very quick and aggressive of the edge and uses his hand well. Will also has fast feet and good balance which allows him to drop back into coverage when he has to. He uses his leverage well by playing at a low pad level that allows him to support the run properly.

Will Smith. The only problem is he plays at the deepest position on our roster. If you count the two first round picks we traded last year to get Jonathan Sullivan that would be four first round picks in the last three years. Whatever, we were able to get a top ten value at number eighteen, not bad, I can live with that.

If the Saints keep Howard, Will may get to see a lot of time on the field. With his athleticism he can stand up and play LB, blitz, or drop back into coverage. And if they trade Howard we haven’t missed a beat in Smith, plus it un-ties our hands in the dealing with Howard’s contact negotiation.

Then in the second round the Saints have two picks thanks to Kyle Turley trade. The first pick we traded down and picked up an additional fifth round pick. Only losing a couple of spots we still got our player in Devery Henderson.

Devery Henderson LSU
5�11� 198lbs
Opelousas, La.

Devery will probably be remembered most for his catch in Kentucky named “The Bluegrass Miracle�, but should know he ranks second in the all-time LSU record books for receiving touchdowns (19) only behind Michael Clayton.

That’s not bad considering he has only played wide-receiver for two years; he played running-back before that. Devery was also a member of the 2001 LSU National Championship Track and Field team. His speed should make it easy for him to move up to the next level.
His 4.3 forty speed and return skills will give him the chance to compete for playing time from day one. He finished with a 24.7 yards per return average at LSU, and that alone should keep the “Beer man� in-bounds a little more. Henderson has the ability to take it to the end-zone every time he touches the ball.
There are a couple of things he can work on like route running, and holding on to the ball a little better but will push the other receivers with his work ethics.

Most of the fans thought that the biggest “Need� for the Saints this off-season was to get younger at corner. But with their second pick in the second round the Saint choose middle line-backer Courtney Watson.

Courtney Watson Notre Dame
6’1� 237lbs
Inside/Outside Line-backer
Sarasota, FLA

Courtney was a three year starter at a high profile college that had been down for the last couple of years. He was a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award and called “everything you would want in a leader,� by coach Tyrone Willingham.

He is a ball-hawk, and very fast sideline-to-sideline which always puts him in the right spot. Watson is very athletic and has great technique which a lot of teams liked. Also he has very good hands that allow him to make the interception a lot of the time and a burst of speed that lets him take it the other way.
The only knock on Courtney is he is under-sized, if he can bulk up some and add some more strength he could be one of the better line-backer from this draft. With his work ethic it should not be a problem.

Most of the fans thought that the biggest “Need� for the Saints this off-season was to get younger at corner. But with their second pick in the second round the Saint choose middle line-backer Courtney Watson. Then finish the first day of the draft by trading our third round pick for a fifth round pick this year and a second round next year.

That is what really got the trade rumors flying around about, Charles Woodson, Ty Law, and Mike McKenzie are possibilities. I am expecting a trade with either the pick we received or Howard to fill the cornerback need. . I do not expect the Saints to go into the season with the defensive backfield like it is. So far the only help we have gotten at corner-back has been Jason Craft from the Jags.

Rumor has it is that Tebucky Jones was supposed to go to “learn how to tackle� school. That would be great, although he started to come on towards the end of the season, he should wrap up more. Mel Mitchell is a big question mark for the Saints, they have high expectations for him but a late pre-season injury ended his season. Hopefully Mel will be able to come back at full strength, boy he would “drop the hammer� on you.

I am also sure the Saints had Aaron Brooks practice holding onto the damn ball all off-season. Brooks fumbled the ball way to much last year and should have corrected that problem. He has improved every year in the league and this year should be no different.
With the addition of Devery Henderson to go with Donte’ Stallworth the Saint have two of the fastest WR in the NFL and that should help spread the field for Aaron and Deuce. Another pick-up that’s not getting a lot of talk is, Germaine Crowell. Crowell was a very good WR a few years back, and if he can show any signs of that it would help. Another interesting thing about Germaine is that he and Aaron were college teammates and there may be some chemistry there and that could help the team.

With the acquisition of Aaron Stecker we filled one of the biggest worries of mine, a back-up running-back. Stecker is a back-up so desperately needed for Duece, who is also a very good return man. His return skills alone will help by making teams kick off to either him or ex-pro-bowler/Bud-Wieser employee, Micheal Lewis.
. The Saints are in pretty good shape salary cap wise too. They are saving to pay Pro-Bowler Deuce McAllister top dollar next year, at least that’s what they should be saving for. They also have the money to pay a high dollar corner to come if they choose to keep Howard, if not a trade will be worked out.

The offensive line is arguably the deepest in the league with the acquisition Of Nesbit from the Jaguars. The line is lead by a very talented young prospect in LeCharles Bentley. Bentley, who played on the National Championship Team with first round pick Will Smith and last years third round pick Cie Grant. Grant was planned to start at middle line-backer, but with the second round pick of Courtney Watson I’m sure there will be competition in camp. Grant was injured last year and did not play much at all, but did get to look at the play-book for a year and gain some chemistry with some team. Some say Grant is better suited for out-side line-backer. Courtney Watson was a safe pick for us; he is a leader and very smart middle line-backer.

to be continued.................

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