New Orleans Saints: Who's Headed to the Big Easy on NFL Draft Day?
Rev up your engines, draft nuts and gurus...and don't forget your sticks so you can beat a dead horse to a pulp.
For Saints fans, the draft has been pleasant during the Sean Payton era, with several hits and few misses, with most of those misses coming during the 2007 draft.
We can bash that draft to pieces another day, but 2009 is a new year, which means new excitement and new hope for the next season.
So who is going to join the roster of our esteemed black and gold warriors?
Simply put...who knows?
One caveat of the Payton-Loomis era is the draft day smokescreens they put up, so no one knows who we are truly aiming at.
Last year, it was fairly easy to predict who we were aiming for and I must say, it was one of the better deals our franchise has made in a while. This year, however, digging through the statements makes it tough to figure out who will be headed for New Orleans.
So, for my opinionated prediction on the Saints draft, I will pull three scenarios that are possible to probable.
1. Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State—Man crush alert! While not the fastest cornerback out there, he is definitely the smartest. His 40 time dropped his stock in the national media, but I would be surprised if some of the lower-picking teams don't have him rated as the highest CB.
While Gregg Williams is staring at a stable of serviceable cornerbacks, the thing that sets Jenkins apart is his versatility. He is big, strong off the line, has the ability to play FS, and is a ballhawk.
If drafted though, he will ride the pine pony until either Sharper gets injured, forcing him to come in at FS, or one of the other cornerbacks gets injured. He might also come in for nickel and dime situations, depending on how well he performs during training camp.
I would personally love this pick because of Jenkins's versatility and his understanding of the game of football.
While he has visited the Saints (which if you follow our draft history usually means he is not the pick), a team like Jacksonville or Green Bay could grab him early. Although, I would see a guy like Vontae Davis fitting in better with the head coaches of those teams.
2) Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State—With the departure of Deuce McAllister, the role of "power runner" has been opened.
While defense was the Saints' Achilles' heel last season, one cannot help but look at several instances where one yard would have given the Saints the game. The Saints need a back that can plow through the line and convert short-yardage situations.
While Wells was injured his senior season, that is no reason to pass on the power runner with one of the nastiest stiff arms I've seen in a while. While he is no Deuce, he does bring an intensity and toughness to the middle of the pile, which is desperately needed.
I wouldn't be thrilled with this pick, but I can see why it is a good idea. A lot of our problems on offense last year centered around getting the tough yards.
Pierre Thomas is a good inside runner, but his power game is slightly lacking, and I do not know what to think of Lynell Hamilton or Mike Bell coming up this season.
A strong power runner just makes sense, and I would have no problem with Wells coming to New Orleans.
3) Trade down for Alex Mack—OK, my obligatory trade-down scenario. If the Saints trade down into the mid-20s with a team like Philly or New England, Mack would be a strong candidate for this pick.
Mack is one of those prospects that is smart, and he plays the center position to his fullest capabilities. I would also look at Max Unger here because of his versatility on the line, but Mack projects better as a pure center.
The Saints might need a little boost in their up-the-gut running, and a strong center would help with that.
While Jonathon Goodwin did an OK job in 2008, it is a position that could use a serious upgrade, and Mack could be that guy.
Scenarios I don't want to see
The following are three scenarios to which my reaction would be to throw something at the TV. I will follow the guidelines of filling a need and try to keep it in the standard first-round grade for players.
1) Vontae Davis, Illinois—As pure of an athletic cornerback as you can get. Vontae, however, strikes me as being a selfish and/or problem child CB. He wants the money, and he also wants to be better and more recognized than his brother Vernon.
This could play out to a team's favor, meaning he will work as hard as possible to get out of his brother's shadow, but then comes the meltdown.
Davis has the physical traits to be a shutdown corner; however, he lacks in the emotional and physical departments.
He was benched for conduct, and is suspected of violating a policy. While unconfirmed, the rumors will be enough to significantly drop his stock if he falls past Jacksonville. I just don't see him fitting into coach Payton's locker room.
2) Knowshon Moreno, Georgia—While I won't argue that he is a good back, we already have a player with his skill set in Pierre Thomas. Both are more shifty and quick than powerful and bulldozing. It would not make any sense from a strength and need standpoint.
3) Andre Smith, Alabama—A good lineman, but a basket case with bad man boobs. I just don't know what to say when it comes to Smith. There is just so much going around about him.
While I wouldn't throw up at the pick, it's just not a need, and doesn't help at all for 2009. He would be the most expensive pine pony rider on the team.
Here's to picking the right guy this year!
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