Few players are as influential within the makeup of an entire franchise as Drew Brees is in New Orleans. It's not that Mickey Loomis literally asks Drew his opinion on every player the team recruits in free agency or considers in the draft, but it's also hard to imagine Drew not having any say of player additions on the offensive side of the ball.
It's well known that during the lockout last summer, Brees spent time working out with free agent running back Darren Sproles in San Diego. The Saints were quick to sign Sproles as free agency commenced back in late July.
And because Brees is now playing under an exclusive rights franchise tag, the Saints must do everything in their power to please him. They've taken great strides in the current free agency period to add quality talent to the defense and replace Carl Nicks.
The talent acquisition continues in the NFL draft. Though the Saints were stripped of a draft pick due to the Bounty scandal, the team still possesses six picks in the final five rounds of the draft.
Here are some players Drew Brees would likely be excited about Mickey Loomis picking in the draft.
Not only is Brandon Boykin a corner who would come in and instantly compete for playing time in the defensive secondary—particularly in sub-packages—more importantly, he would improve the return game.
Drew Brees would love to have a player who is capable of slowing the opposing offense’s passing game. A good pass defense would make his job easier, as he wouldn’t have to be perfect in his passing touch.
But Boykin’s greater impact would come in the return game. First and perhaps most importantly, Boykin’s presence would mean Darren Sproles would no longer have to return kicks and punts. Boykin is equally dynamic and can change a game in the return game.
This would free Sproles to focus on offense. Having Sproles focused on the offensive side he will be fresher and able to concentrate more on hurting opposing defenses through the air and on the ground.
But it might also be that Boykin could be a poor man’s version of the Bears’ Devin Hester. Like Hester, Boykin played corner at Georgia but also took numerous snaps on offense, running reverses, catching screens and making plays out of the backfield.
It’s possible that Boykin could take over some of the duties previously performed by Robert Meachem in the Saints’ offense, if Pete Carmichael and later Sean Payton decide he can help the offense.
Don’t think Brees doesn’t want another playmaker in his offense though; he definitely does.
It may seem funny to name a variety of defensive players. But don't you think Drew Brees wants his team to field a good defense?
With Markelle Martin rotating in the defensive backfield, the Saints would possess one of the most physical secondaries in the entire league. If you thought the bounty-motivated Saints were scary, imagine a cleanly-motivated yet infinitely more physical defense.
That would be the Saints with Markelle Martin. Opposing offenses would be fearful of the Saints' secondary but for the right reasons. Receivers will get alligator arms, fumbles will abound and turnovers will be created.
Of course Drew Brees wants the ball with good field position, or even after his defense has already scored in his place. That was the recipe in 2009. Martin's inclusion in the lineup would help make that a reality again.
Jermon Bushrod had a career year in 2011, one that earned him a Pro Bowl nod. So the left tackle spot isn't the ultimate problem for the New Orleans Saints.
But the right tackle spot wasn't exactly a spot of security. Between Zach Strief and Charles Brown, the Saints struggled to keep opposing pass rushers away from Brees off the right end.
Insert Tony Bergstrom to the equation and the Saints have one more legitimate option at right tackle. Charles Brown can start at right tackle, Zach Strief can back up Bushrod and Bergstrom can back up Brown.
The fourth round target is big and physical. He figures to excel both in the run game and in protecting Brees. Within a year or two he figures to challenge for significant playing time.
In the recent FC Community Mock Draft, as the Saints' acting general manager I was fortunate enough to draft DaJohn Harris in the fifth round.
I was amazed since most draft experts have Harris going no later than the fourth round. At 6'3", 306 lbs. Harris is plenty good size for either a one-tech or three-technique defensive tackle in the Saints' defense.
He plugs holes in the running game and creates pressure on the passer. He wouldn't come in and start for the Saints, but his presence in the defensive tackle rotation would cause the defense to be fresher and thus more effective.
A more effective defense is exactly what Mr. Drew Brees wants.
Though immediately Adrian Arrington will take Robert Meachem's spot in the Saints' offense, A.J. Jenkins' presence could eventually allow the Saints to rid themselves of the high-priced and aging Devery Henderson.
He could also take Meachem's spot in terms of taking the H/flex receiver duties of Robert Meachem.
With his size, speed and versatility, Jenkins would provide a future burner and explosive receiver to continue the Saints' big-play offense.
Brian Linthicum is another player I was fortunate to select in the Community Mock Draft. I was able to get him in the sixth round, and was again beyond stoked. If the Saints were able to select Linthicum in the sixth round, I think Mickey Loomis and Co. would also be beyond excited.
The Saints need a sure thing to play the role of the third tight end on the roster. Linthicum, though not a burner or freak athlete, is about as sure a thing as they get at the tight end position.
He is unlikely to ever produce more than 50 catches or 1,000 yards of receiving. But he is a reliable target with great hands, intelligent route running and excellent run blocking skills and tenacity.
That combination makes him a perfect fit for the Saints' offense.
Trevin Wade is unlikely to provide value in the return game, but his presence in the defensive backfield would allow the Saints' defense to play a fourth corner who is proficient both in man and zone coverages.
And Wade's proficiency isn't seen only in playing such coverages well but also seen in his ball skills and eventual play-making ability.
Again there is little doubt Brees would be opposed to a player with lock down corner potential. Of course it is rare that a late round pick at corner develops into a star, but not impossible. Worst-case scenario Wade figures to be a really valuable fourth corner.