Saints Draft Day Could Resemble a Scene from Trading Places

Alvin BrownContributor IApril 11, 2009

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 21:  Running back Reggie Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints rushes against the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 21, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Saints 34-32.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The image is engraved into our minds. Actor Ralph Bellamy's character Randolph Duke screaming at the top of his voice, “You Idiot! Get back in there at once and SELL! SELL!" He is referring to worthless orange juice stock he and his brother Mortimer Duke are holding after having the tables turned on them in the 1983 movie Trading Places.

I imagine that with only four picks in this year’s draft, the Saints will be on the floor trying to part with the 14th pick of the first round.

Although pre-draft chatter has the Saints leaning toward a running back, most forget their offense averaged a league leading 28.9 points and 410 total yards per game. Of the total yard average, only 99.6 are attributed to rushing.  Keep in mind that Reggie Bush was banged up a bit in 2008 and should be more effective when he returns.

Pierre Thomas also showed promise and with Deuce McAllister gone, they will need to draft for depth at the position, but in my opinion, not in the first round.

In short, the Saints are a passing team and the rushing aspect of their offense is designed to draw just enough attention to keep defenses honest.

I know the number experts are ranting that the Saints have the league’s 28th ranked rushing offense and probably needs to do more in that area, but I counter that they are still the league’s top scoring team despite the rushing challenges.

On the defensive side of the ball, the landscape is distinctly Different,17th in the league versus the run and 23rd against the pass. With only four picks, it is clear where the Saints should go―defense.

The Saints' defense generated only 28 sacks and produced no defensive touchdowns in 2008. It is clear the Saints need play makers on the defensive side of the ball.

Conventional wisdom says that if the Saints don’t trade the first round selection, they will probably look for an impact linebacker or corner. If they seek help at linebacker, USC’s Brian Cushing could be there.

Cushing has the outside closing speed to contain the run while being heavy enough to recognize and cover the pass. He would bring versatility at the position having also played some defensive end and middle linebacker in college. Cushing along with Jonathan Vilma and Scott Fujita would give the Saints a respectful trio at the position.

If they look at corners, the easy choice would be Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins. He displays shut down abilities and tremendous run-pass recognition skills.

Add Jenkins to a secondary that already includes veteran safety Darren Sharper and cornerback Tracy Porter, and the Saints could improve on that 23rd rated pass defense.

With that said, the Saints probably should not pick at No. 14. I hear a chorus getting louder and louder….Sell! Sell! Sell!

To part with their 14th pick, the Saints will have to find a late first round partner or simply trade out of the first round all together. By coming out of the first round, they would stand to acquire a second, third and possible other late round pick.

According to the NFL draft pick value chart,  the 14th pick of the first round is worth 1100 points. This gives the Saints great bargaining power.

For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers 32nd pick of the first round is worth 590 points, which means a trade with the Saints will more than likely cost them their first and second round pick.

Unfortunately, the Steelers expect their draft targets, either University of California center Alex Mack or Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy, to fall to them without moving up.

However, if the Saints trade out of round one, there are some very good players that could come off the board in the second, third and fourth rounds.

If a running back is still high on the list, Donald Brown (Connecticut), Shonn Greene (Iowa), and even Colorado State’s Gartrell Johnson, will be great choices.

As for second and third round value at outside linebacker, viable options include Cody Brown (Connecticut), Clay Matthews (USC) and Ohio State’s Marcus Freeman who may turn out to be a steal to the team that nabs him.

There may not be marquee corners past the second or third round, but if the Saints are lucky enough to grab Darius Butler (Connecticut), Jairus Byrd (Oregon), Sean Smith (Utah), or safety Louis Delmas (Western Michigan), this still would be a secondary upgrade.

So the key for the Saints is finding a willing trade partner with picks to burn.

Whether the Saints choose to stand pat with only four overall picks or simply can’t find a trade partner, there may be echoes of Mortimer Duke―“Now, you listen to me! I want trading reopened right now. Get those brokers back in here! Turn those machines back on!”

Let’s hope not.