Following a serious embarrassment at the hands of the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in the Wild-card round of the playoffs, the New Orleans Saints wasted no time in getting prepared for the 2011-2012 Season. They began signing players such as Tom Johnson, Swanson Miller, and Mitch King almost right away. All three play the defensive tackle position, which has been a major weakness of the Superbowl Champs since last year.
Tom Johnson, 6'3" 288 pounds out of Southern Mississippi in 2006 spent the last two years playing for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
Swanson Miller, 6'4" 310 pounds out of Oklahoma State played only two years there and compiled less than average stats finishing with 41 total tackles. It was very hard to find any information on the guy but it seems as though he spent some time with the Browns but failed to make the 53 man roster.
Mitch King, 6'2" 280 pounds out of Iowa might be the most promising of the three. He has already spent some time with the New Orleans Saints as well as the Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, and Indianapolis Colts. He totaled 228 tackles in five years at Iowa.
The question that this brings about is, what direction the Saints are looking to go in the upcoming draft? With the defensive tackle being the biggest weakness of the team, will one of these three guys prove worthy of keeping on the 53 man roster this year?
If so, then the Saints can focus on other needs such as DE, OLB, RB, or OL in the first three rounds and a KR/PR specialist in later rounds. If not, then a worthy player must be found to play next to Sedrick Ellis in the draft.
Here is a quick look at some potential draft prospects come April.
Bruce Carter OLB North Carolina (First)
We needed an upgrade at this position last year but the staff had faith in some of the young talent we had. Injuries to two of our starters forced Danny Clark into the line up and he played o.k. for how quickly he was thrown into the game. However, Bruce Carter would be an instant upgrade at the position and would allow us to cut some of the pork from the roster.
Sam Acho (Second) DE Texas
If you saw this guy play during the Senior Bowl, you know why I would love to get him in the second round. If he has a good combine showing he could jump to the early 2nd round forcing us to take him in the first if they feel he's worth it.
Jarvis Jenkins (Second) DT Clemson
If Sam Acho is missed out on, I wouldn't cry for very long as Jarvis Jenkins can step in right away and play next to Sedrick Ellis to help stop the run.
Austin Pettis(Third) WR Boise State
At 6'3" and 205 pounds, Pettis would give Brees a solid No. 2 wide receiver opposite Colston. This would open up the field for Colston, Moore, Meachem and Jimmy Graham.
Running back (Third) Any running back in the 5'10", 200 pound range
There are a lot of running backs that I like in this years draft. Most of them being of the 5'10" 200 pound version. A good RB can be had here with the 88th pick in the draft allowing us to seek a trade for the overvalued Reggie Bush.
Christian Ponder (Fourth) QB Florida State
Christian Ponder had a good showing at the Senior Bowl, however, he lacks the arm strength to be considered in the top three rounds. He could provide the Saints with a solid back up to Brees in case he were to see injury. He would of course have to beat out Chase Daniels for the second quarterback position. That's no easy task as even Patrick Ramsey couldn't beat him out last year.
Dwayne Harris (Fourth) WR/KR East Carolina 5'11", 200 pounds
Harris would provide a much needed boost on Kick returns, allowing Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas to focus on their main duties in the offense. Harris is a quick receiver that is surprisingly hard to bring down and could also pitch in on offense from time to time. He would take a lot of pressure off of Meachem and Moore and would provide added security at a position where injuries seem to run rampant.
Surprisingly I think that Harris is also the most important of the guys to bring in. He can do so much to help the team and would provide the Saints with that extra pep that so many teams seem to have these days.
There you have it. That's my early take on our first four rounds of the draft and the guys we need to watch over the next three months. If we can add just one of these guys, then our team will have improved just that much more and we'll be that much closer to another Championship.
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