Saints have cleared the way for an intriguing draft


"It stinks losing. I hate it.” Those words were uttered by Saints head coach Sean Payton on Monday, Dec. 29.
 
In the three months since, the Saints traded Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham. They cut veteran linebacker Curtis Lofton, who was fourth in the NFL in total tackles in 2014.
 
The Saints traded speedy wide receiver Kenny Stills to Miami. As part of the deal, the Saints netted a third-round draft choice.
 
They dismissed long-time scouting director Rick Reiprish and hired former Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland as his replacement.
 
And, the club terminated eight-year veteran running back Pierre Thomas, one of the last remaining members of the 2009 Super Bowl champions.
 
As interesting as the Saints’ roster shake up is, it may not be more interesting than what is to follow – the most intriguing Saints draft in years.
 
Not since 2011 have the Saints made two selections in the first round. Both of those choices, defensive end Cam Jordan and running back Mark Ingram, have played in at least one Pro Bowl.
 
What will they do?
 
One take is that the Saints have accumulated draft picks to shore up the league’s 31st-ranked defense. Besides picks 13 and 31 in the first round, the Saints also own a second-round selection, and a pair of third-round picks.
 
Defense is certainly an option.
 
General manager Mickey Loomis told Sirius XM NFL radio that with “some of the resources, hopefully we can improve our defense.”
 
But, shortly thereafter Loomis added this nugget: “We are not opposed to taking a player that helps our offense.”
 
The Saints could easily do what Atlanta did four years ago. The Falcons traded from the 27th spot to the sixth to nab Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. Atlanta traded five picks to Cleveland, including two first-rounders and a second rounder, to move up 21 spots.
 
The Saints don’t have to go that far to go up.

Trading up eight spots would get the Saints in the top 5. There, they could have an opportunity to select West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White or Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Both are outstanding talents, but it appears with a different approach. The verbose White was asked by NFL Network about how he performed in his recent pro day.

“I did great,” said White. “I have a lot of confidence in my abilities. I can do it all.”

Meantime, Cooper may not be a good fit for New Orleans. At a press conference before the Sugar Bowl game against Ohio State, Cooper was asked for his take on New Orleans.

“No disrespect to New Orleans,” said Cooper. “But, I really don’t like the place.”

Cooper added that the city smelled bad and there was too much going on.

As Thursday night, April 30 approaches, several mock drafts have the Saints restocking the defense. And, the Saints running the ball a lot more.

But, don’t buy it.

Sean Payton is an offensive coach. And, he’s coaching a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Drew Brees’ best weapon was traded. Time to get
another.

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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