Lessons Learned from New Orleans Saints', Mickey Loomis' 2012 Draft Strategy
The NFL offseason was dominated by talk of the New Orleans Saints, but in the worst possible way. Bountygate resulted in harsh punishments for coaches and players alike, and the team also had to surrender its second-round pick this year.
In a division that sees turnover at the top almost every year, the Saints had been able to win two out of the last three division titles, including one Super Bowl championship season. With no first-round pick because of the Mark Ingram deal and no second-round pick, how would Mickey Loomis attempt to keep this team on top via the draft?
The Saints Must Not have had Many Pressing Needs or a Deep Draft Board
Perhaps Loomis is drunk on boom/bust gambles after Jimmy Graham became one of the best third-round picks in recent memory last year. Graham was a basketball player who hadn't even caught 20 passes in his college football career when the Saints took him.
This time around, Loomis took massive defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who played his college ball in Canada after recruiting violations made him ineligible at LSU.
The desire to take a high risk/high reward player in the mid-rounds is understandable, but not when you don't have another pick in the top 100. The Saints should have had a solid top 50-60 ranked player left on their board, or at least they could have made an attempt to get some instant depth at a thin position.
If Hicks hits, Loomis will look like a genius, but a lot of quality players were still available when they took the raw giant, who was rated as a late-round pick by most evaluators.
The Passing Game has Flourished Without a Big Draft Investment
Loomis actually made the safe depth in the fourth round, so we can't be too harsh on him. Al's son Nick Toon may never be a dynamic No. 1 receiver, but he'll provide good hands, routes and toughness, in addition to bravado in the air and in the middle of the field.
The Saints surprisingly had not taken a wide receiver in the draft since 2008, and that was a seventh-round pick, Adrian Arrington. Their ability to find undrafted and late-round talent like Lance Moore and Marques Colston has allowed them to be among the league's top passing games without sinking too many high picks into the unit.
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