It's never a dull day in New Orleans sports, huh, Who Dat Nation?
On a day when most of the city was focusing on the rebranding of the New Orleans Hornets, Sean Payton had other ideas.
Just a few hours after the "Pelicans" were born, the newly reinstated coach started dropping the hammer, and the casualties were defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and secondary coach Ken Flajole.
Not only did Payton cut dead weight, but he also announced that his defense will be transitioning to a 3-4 for the first time in New Orleans since the "Dome Patrol" roamed around in the late 80s-early 90s.
That last bit of news kind of throws my draft board for this team out the window, on the defensive side.
There's no doubt that there's much more 3-4 talent in this draft than 4-3, but the real reason puzzle is: Who stays and who goes? Who fits into this type of scheme?
Those questions can be saved for another time. Now is the time to see what a Saints draft could look like with a new "rebrand" of their own.
Before we get into the Saints first-round pick, I would like to point out that I had Eric Fisher here first, before his meteoric rise into what looks like the Top 5.
Anyway, the switch to the 3-4 immediately creates two voids in the Saints front seven: rush linebacker and nose tackle.
Yes, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson could be amazing at rush linebacker, but who really knows? Are you content with rolling the dice on them without any backup?
I wouldn't do it.
Since there is no real option for a nose tackle at 15, I have New Orleans picking the best 3-4 OLB left on the board. I would love to have Barkevious Mingo, but he won't last that long. I'd also love to see if Jarvis Jones' medical red flags make him drop into the Saints' lap, but that's unlikely, as well.
The two players on whom I really went back and forth were Ziggy Ansah and Dion Jordan.
I went with Jordan over Ansah based on one big factor: The BYU product looks like he would need to be redshirted for a year before he could possibly contribute. Ansah just doesn't look like a first-rounder to me, even based on potential.
Jordan could be a Demarcus Ware clone with his speed and frame. He also produced at a high level in the competitive Pac-12 for the past two years. He would be a good start to New Orleans' new defensive scheme.
The Saints take care of their second biggest need on the defensive side by picking up one of, if not the best small-school prospect in the draft.
Brandon Williams is 6' 2" and 341 lbs, but don't let that size fool you: He can scoot right past an offensive lineman, bull-rush them into the quarterback or take up the necessary blockers to keep the linebackers behind him free-flowing to the ball.
Adding Jordan and Williams into a lineup that would already have starters at both defensive ends (Akiem Hicks/Cameron Jordan), both inside linebackers (Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne) and at least one OLB position (Wilson/Galette) in their front seven would complete a very seamless and surprisingly easy transition to the 3-4.
Think about that: After their first two picks, the Saints can go with the best player available for the rest of their draft, as they usually do anyway, after filling both of their biggest needs by Round 3.
How many of you guys knew Corey White before he was drafted last year?
Exactly. This can't be repeated enough, but the Saints love their small-school guys. I am sure that New Orleans' scouting department has single-handedly kept the FCS division and lower in business.
All joking aside, keep your eyes on B.W. Webb out of William and Mary (Darren Sharper's alma mater) whose conference, CAA, is considered the "SEC of lower levels".
His stats aren't going to jump off the page at you, mostly because his side was rarely thrown at, if at all. He has the short stature that Sean Payton loves in a cornerback, and the speed, as well. (He averages around the 4.35/4.40 range in the 40.)
Like White, he is not afraid to get dirty and attack receivers, two big qualities to have in 3-4 corners. Another one is run support, and Webb is an excellent tackler in that regard.
He has more than held his own against the big boys at the Senior Bowl, and I have no doubt that he could transition smoothly from four-year CAA starter to NFL player.
Before you start defending Brian de la Puente, tell me one good reason why that man should not at least have competition at his position this upcoming season?
There are none.
He had such an inconsistent 2012; do you think Payton would tolerate that in 2013? Seemingly no, by way that the coach has started off his "second" stint as the Saints' head man.
Brian Schwenke, a Cal bear like De la Puente, pitched a shutout at the Senior Bowl against some top-notch talent and had me scrambling to find film on him.
Yes, his game tape holds up as well as his practices down in Mobile, but truth be told, centers don't get drafted that high, so he could drop a round lower than he should be.
That would be fine by me. Schwenke reminds me a lot of Nick Mangold, the Jets' first rounder in 2006, and he is just as nasty as Mangold finishing off blocks.
He should be a name you look for as a steal on Day 3 of the draft.
I have come to the conclusion in this draft class that if you don't grab an offensive tackle early on, you might as well try to unearth some gems in Rounds 6 and beyond.
That is what this kid, Garrett Gilkey, could be.
Like Schwenke, he held his own down in Mobile and then some. He is from Chadron State and was repeatedly beating players from big schools like Florida State. Gilkey had so many pancakes down in Mobile that Orlando Pace teared up with pride.
Oh, did I mention that Gilkey is a monster of a man? He's 6' 6" and 315 pounds, and has the frame to add about 15-to-20 more pounds and still produce at a high level.
In the NFL, he would be more of a right tackle, but that is okay because the Saints have another young guy on the team, Marcel Jones, who would be perfect for the left side, whenever he is asked to do so.