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Danno 06-02-2005 05:00 PM

NFL Draft Countdown review
It seems like every June around this time we are talking about how much talent the Saints have and how they could be on the verge of finally breaking through. Unfortunately, every January we talking about how they did not live up to their potential and were underachievers. Will this be the year Jim Haslett and this team finally takes that next step?
With Victor Riley no longer in the fold the team needed to bring in a right tackle, which would allow them to play free agent acquisition Jermane Mayberry at guard, a position he is better suited for. After seeing that Carolina was about to jump on Jammal Brown of Oklahoma at #14 the Saints made an aggressive move and dealt with Houston for the #13 pick to ensure they got their guy. The Outland Trophy Award winner, Brown may have been the best all-around offensive tackle in this draft when it came to both pass and run blocking and he should be able to step into the starting lineup very early on. This wasn't a sexy pick but one that will pay major dividends right away by shoring up the o-line.

The Saints attempted to address a defense that really lacked playmakers in round two by choosing safety Josh Bullocks of Nebraska. A good athlete with solid measurables, Bullocks is known for being a ballhawk and he excels at playing centerfield and coming away with the interception. After releasing Tebucky Jones the team had a hole in the deep secondary so Bullocks could earn a job in the starting lineup before long. Then in round three they grabbed a linebacker in Alfred Fincher of Connecticut. Although it is a bit up in the air as to whether he will play inside or outside in New Orleans, this is a team that needed help at the position and at the very, very least he will be a great backup at the pro level.

After addressing the defense in rounds two and three it was time once again to shift their focus to the other side of the ball and bring in some offense. In round four they went with California wide receiver Chase Lyman, a guy who has all the physical tools you look for but has some major durability concerns. Unfortunately, Lyman was hurt in a mini-camp and will likely miss the entire 2005 season with a knee injury. In round five New Orleans made one of the most intriguing choices in the draft when they selected former Florida St. quarterback Adrian McPherson. Everyone probably knows his story by now but here is a recap: Was the first athlete in Florida prep history to ever be named both Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball. He began his career at Florida St. and was starting by his sophomore year before getting kicked out amid a high profile gambling scandal. He then tried to enroll at Tennessee St. but when it became clear the NCAA wasn't going to allow him to play football he chose to turn pro and sign with the Indiana Firebirds of the A.F.L. This guy has all the tools you look for and if Aaron Brooks continues to struggle don't be surprised if this guy is their starting signal caller one day.

With their final two picks in the 6th and 7th rounds the Saints added some much-needed depth to their defensive line by selecting tackle Jason Jefferson of Wisconsin and end Jimmy Verdon of Arizona St. Jefferson was overshadowed by the likes of Erasmus James and Anttaj Hawthorne throughout his career with the Badgers but he was a pretty productive player in his own right. With Verdon they got a guy who can probably see action at either tackle or end and while he isn't a flashy player in terms of rushing the passer he holds his own against the run. With Johnathan Sullivan looking like a major league bust there was a need for reinforcements inside and these picks should help towards that end.

It is hard to imagine a team coached by Jim Haslett not bringing the type of fire and intensity into games that he did as a player but that is this teams M.O. Will they ever play up to the level their talent would lead you to believe they could or is this simply a team that will never get it. This might be the year we find out once and for all and at least two of their draft choices, Brown and Bullocks, should be in the starting lineup when that determination is made at the end of the year.

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