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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; 2004 Draft Review: New Orleans Saints Saints play the hand they’re dealt By Mark Stone Footballhuddles.com Staff Writer -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- There are times when things don’t go your way, and teams are forced to scramble to their backup plans. I have ...

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Old 05-02-2004, 11:18 PM   #1
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Draft recap

2004 Draft Review: New Orleans Saints

Saints play the hand they’re dealt
By Mark Stone
Footballhuddles.com Staff Writer


There are times when things don’t go your way, and teams are forced to scramble to their backup plans. I have to believe that Jim Haslett, Rick Mueller and the front office of the New Orleans Saints are considering that an example of precisely what happened this weekend at the NFL draft in New York.

With the 16th pick of the draft, the Denver Broncos may have not only closed the door on the Saints first round hopes, but they may have slammed it in their faces, when the Broncos selected D.J. Williams, the linebacker from the University of Miami.

Unfortunately for the Saints, one of their high-priority needs was cornerback, but with both DeAngelo Hall and Dunta Robinson both off the board within the first 10 picks of the draft, that only left Ahmad Carroll and Chris Gamble as the only two “high-profile� cornerbacks left on the board, and both were considered to have their stocks slipping, and the Saints apparently seemed to think their values were well under the #18 selection as well.

Since Saturday, one of the key rumors that has been going around was that Buffalo had been trying to move to either 9 or 10, in an effort to pick up Ben Roethslisberger ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that if Roethslisberger had been taken by the time Pittsburgh was on the clock, the Steelers and Saints were in negotiations to swap draft choices.

However, when the Buffalo to Jacksonville and Buffalo to Atlanta deals didn’t emerge, staring the Steelers in the face was the pickup of a solid young quarterback, for a team that truly needed a quarterback, and with that, any potential deal between the two teams of Black and Gold was thrown to the side of the road.

And the Saints hopes for one of their top choices draft board selections went with it five picks later when the Broncos made their selection, forcing the team to go with what has to have been a “backup� plan.

Will Smith, DE, Ohio State

Smith will be a solid defensive end in the NFL, but with Charles Grant and Darren Howard already on the roster, why select a 1st round pick of another defensive end, and one that would simply become part of a rotation system, rather than a much needed starter.

Now admittedly, Howard has had some injury issues last season, but when he came back on the field, he was simply irreplaceable on the Saints defensive line.

If Williams had been here at this choice, Haslett would have had Williams penciled in as a starter, and if the Saints had been able to trade up, this choice would have probably been Jonathan Vilma (who was still on the board when the potential Steelers-Saints trade would have gone through). In other words, the Saints had to take their third option at this point, a rotational player for an already stocked position.

Perhaps consideration it’s being considered that Smith could be moved to outside linebacker, but with Teddy Lehman still on the board at that point, this doesn’t seem to be an option that is under consideration.

Devery Henderson, WR, Louisiana State Unversity

A solid, if unspectacular pick for the New Orleans Saints, with Caroll, Gamble, Dansby and Lehman, as well as Dontarius Thomas off the board by this point. This pick allows the Saints to remain well-staffed at the wide-receiver position, and with the history of injuries to former first round pick Donte Stallworth, Henderson could find himself elevated to being a key component of the on-again/off-again offense of the Saints.

Courtney Watson, ILB, Notre Dame

Unfortunately, as noted, with no top cornerbacks on the board at this point, and most of the higher-profile linebackers now off the board, the New Orleans Saints had to go with one of their positions of need. With a young crew of outside linebackers already on the roster, the Saints selected Watson with their second selection of the second round.

The good news for Saints fans is that Watson is decent in getting back into coverage, and a solid tackler, and very good at the run. The bad news is that when he has to go man-to-man, he seems to find himself getting lost on the field, a problem that has plagued this team at this position for quite some time.

Orlando Ruff was brought on to the team last year as a run-stopper, and Watson seems to play the exact same role that Ruff has on this team already. The Saints appeared to simply pick up a back-up player that is identical to the player they already have, and as such, other than his getting back into coverage, is not a great pick up for this team.

With Cie Grant, Derrick Rodgers, and Ruff already on the lineup, this pick could have been better used elsewhere.

Rodney Leslie, DT, UCLA

A case of what might be. Last year, the New Orleans Saints picked up Jonathan Sullivan in the first round to be their DT of the future. Leslie could be a good compliment for the line, and a great alternative style to Sullivan. Leslie is known for being a great technique player, but has a tendency to be blocked one-on-one more often than not, which will come into consideration as to what situations Leslie can be brought onto the field effectively.

A reputation for injury dropped Leslie down various teams draft boards, but he’s known for being able to last a full 60-minutes when healthy, something that the Saints have lacked when the key two defensive tackles were Grady Jackson and Norman Hand.

Mike Karney, FB, Arizona State

And here I was expecting Martz to pick up an Arizona State player. Plain and simple, Karney was considered by many to be the best full back in the draft.

The Saints have always seemed to have a decent run of picking up fullbacks in the draft in recent years, with Terrelle Smith and Moran Norris both coming to mind.

Karney fits the same mold as both of the previous draft picks, a solid blocker, who loves to hit opposing players. Having acquired Karney after trading a sixth and seventh round pick, Karney will push veteran free agent Gash for the starting FB role, in what shjould be a solid 5th round pickup.

Cody Bockwoldt, LB, BYU

Bockwoldt is one of those last round draft picks that is destined for a practice squad role at best and camp fodder at worst. Expectations for Bockwoldt are about what you could expect for a seventh round draft choice.

Overall: Unfortunately, for Saints fans, there’s not a lot to get excited over, at least at first glance. The good news is that there is some good value in most of the teams’ picks, but that many of their issues of need still seem to be left unanswered.

Watson most likely is not the answer the team needs at the ILB position, and the corner situation is clearly still up in the air, with the Saints among the many teams that passed on Poole, Vasher, and Strait in the early rounds, when they might have been the necessary fit for a weak secondary.

Tactics which now leaves me, and possibly many other armchair general managers, wondering if the Saints are still in negotiations with other teams for a veteran trade/pickup, or perhaps simply waiting on the June 1st free agent date.

Final Grade: C+

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Old 05-03-2004, 06:57 AM   #2
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Never heard of FootballHuddle?
You\'d think they could at least spell Leisle\'s name right.
Watson=Ruff? I don\'t see that. I think Watson would outrun Ruff backwards.
Watson\'s combine numbers were nearly identical to Vilma\'s. Does Vilma=Ruff also?
Sounds like someone did a search for the lowest grade they could find and posted it as fast as they could.
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Old 05-03-2004, 08:09 AM   #3
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I think Smith was a good pick from what was left at the time. I don\'t think Vilma or DJ would be worth moving up to get as it would have been costly. I know we need a middle linebacker and also a CB. We still need a middle linebacker but we may have gotten a good one in the draft after all. We\'ll see how he turns out but from what I\'ve read he is awsome. A good linebacking corp and a fierce D-Line can really make our DB\'s look much better. I don\'t think we are as bad off as most seem to think. We could also have some trade options available to us......
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Old 05-03-2004, 03:43 PM   #4
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So FootballHuddle\'s assessment isn\'t valid right? 08 stayed up all night finding that article right? Couldn\'t resist discrediting an article that didn\'t praise every player and position where they were drafted right? Typical

[Edited on 5/3/2004 by gatorman]
No said I never heard of them
I have no idea how long he stayed up.
Funny, Most of the experts articles I’ve read gave the Saints good marks.
But nothing wrong with a little bias agenda, keeps us on our toes.

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