Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The NFL Draft is going to take place with or without a new labor agreement. In a little over a week the Carolina Panthers will be on the clock with the first pick of the draft.
As the draft inches closer I cannot help but have the visual in my head of JFP Publisher Todd Stauffer. I picture him pacing back in forth wondering what the New Orleans Saints will do.
It must be great for Todd that the Saints are drafting in the lower end of the draft for the second straight year. But is must be agonizing for Todd to watch the picks come off the board waiting for the Saints to make their first round pick at the 24th slot.
So to make things a little easier on Todd I figured it would be nice if he, and all Saints fans, did not have to wait until the 24th pick to figure out what they would do.
Before we start, here are a couple of things to make note of before the draft with no CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) in place yet. First, no players can be traded only draft picks.
Secondly after the draft no team can sign undrafted free agents. Lastly, once a player is drafted he will have a short window (beginning to end of the draft) to meet with the team drafting him.
The rules above will be in effect unless there is a new CBA. If there is a new CBA, I will have to blow this article up and write a new one.
Now that we have the draft rules down, it is a good idea to know that teams draft two ways. A team can take the most talented player available regardless of position or draft for needs.
That will make this draft harder for teams. Without a CBA teams cannot sign free agents to fill needs and use the draft to take the best player/fill needs.
I personally believe teams need to use the draft to fill needs, especially in the early rounds. Typically the Saints like to draft the best player available.
That may not be a sound strategy this year. Since there has been no free agent signing period and the window for championships might be closing for the Saints, needs should dominate this draft.
The Saints are in a very tough division. Atlanta won the division last year and Tampa Bay is vastly improved.
New Orleans also has to contend with Green Bay, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York. All of above teams have a younger starting quarterback than New Orleans.
Championship windows can close quickly so focusing on needs in this draft could be pivotal for the Saints if they want to win another championship. Drew Brees is already 32 years old and he has played 11 NFL seasons.
While Brees is playing at a high level it would be ashamed to see it wasted by not putting together one more championship run. That championship needs to happen with home field advantage since New Orleans or Brees have never won a road playoff game.
The Saints have six picks in this draft. New Orleans has four picks (1 first round pick, 1 second round pick, 3 third round picks) in the first 88 picks of the draft.
From the fourth round to the sixth round the Saints have no picks and finish the draft with 2 seventh round picks). That means the middle of draft, a great place to find cheaper players, will be closed to the Saint, unless they make some trades.
Here is a look at the picks the Saints could make in this year's draft. One added bonus is we will give you a Mississippi player who could fill that draft pick for the Saints.
New Orleans Saints Draft needs are: Defensive Line, Offensive Line, Safety and Linebacker.
First round: 24th pick (24th pick overall)
This is a great pick for New Orleans. They have a ton of ways they could go with this pick.
It is low enough to trade down for more picks or a great pick to take a good player without having to pay a lot.
There has been a good bit of attention to New Orleans using this pick to draft a pass rushing defensive end. One thing to keep in mind is that defensive end has been one of the biggest gambles in the draft.
Teams have drafted 16 defensive ends taken in the first round since 2007. Those players have been rather disappointing.
Only one of those 16 defensive ends, Brian Orakpo of the Redskins, is the only one who has been to a pro bowl. In a defensive rich draft this need might be better severed by waiting.
Offensive line on the other hand has been one of the safest picks. Since 2006, 27 offensive tackles have been taken in the first round.
Best part about these offensive tackles, 26 of the 27 have gone one to become starters. New Orleans should use this pick to draft that offensive tackle they need.
Pick: Offensive Tackle
Mississippi connection: Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State Bulldogs
Second Round: Pick 24 (56th pick overall)
Again this is a great pick for New Orleans. They can get a good player at a good price.
The second round will be the time to start looking at defense. That defensive end the Saints want will still be there in this deep draft.
New Orleans could also look at a linebacker with this pick as well. Or the Saints could shore up a run defense that gashed last season with a defensive tackle.
A run stuffer really showed in New Orleans playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. New Orleans gave up 150 yards rushing in that loss.
Pick: Defensive Tackle
Mississippi Connection: Jerrell Powe, Mississippi Rebels
Third Round: Pick 8 (72nd pick overall) (From Washington)
It would be a safe pick for the Saints to go after that defensive end. Again a deep defensive draft should leave plenty of players around for New Orleans to target.
Now is the time to go after that pass rusher who the Saints can slowly develop into a starter. This pick could be brought along slowly and used in spot situations.
A great idea for a team like New Orleans who does not need to hit home runs but get safely on base.
Pick: Defensive End
Mississippi Connection: Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State Bulldogs
Third Round: Pick 24 (88th pick overall)
New Orleans can use this pick for that pass rushing linebacker or a linebacker who can slide inside. This would provide an understudy for Jonathan Vilma, inside, or Scott Shanle outside.
Again the Saints can take some time to bring a linebacker along and have that player ready for next year. That still does not mean New Orleans will not use a player taken here in spot situations.
Mississippi Connection: K.J. Wright, Mississippi State Bulldogs
Seventh Round: Pick 23 (226th overall pick) & Pick 40 (240th overall pick)
Late round picks like these are normally used for special team players. The Saints could go a number of directions.
It would not be a surprise if New Orleans took a long look at another defensive end or linebacker with these two picks. The Saints could also take on a project on the offensive line, wide receiver or safety.
One interesting thing is a two small school players could get drafted with these two picks. With no CBA, teams will have to draft small school players rather than trying to sign them to undrafted free agent contracts.
Here is where Belhaven's wide receiver Cordario Calvin, Mississippi College's running back Steven Knight, Delta State's wide out Xavier Rambo and running back Trevar Deed. Jackson State has several talented players who could find teams in the seventh round.
Powe is going to the Pittsburgh Steelers instead. I'm not trying to turn Saints' business into Steelers business, but the Steelers need defensive backs, a few more good offensive linemen to protect a married Big Ben, and we're off to the next Super Bowl. I hope the Packers make it back too so we can extract revenge. Hien Ward should be finished winning Dancing with the Stars by hen and ready to do one more slow motion year with the country's greatest pro football team. In 2012 we will also surpass the cowboys in super bowl appearances. Go Steelers.
Here is a link to the New Orleans Saints 2011 Schedule: http://www.nfl.com/schedules/interactive?module=HP_cp3#/team=NO Walt here is a link to the Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule: http://www.nfl.com/schedules/interactive?module=HP_cp3#/team=PIT Any other schedules you want can be found using these links or write me and I will post a link.
- Bryan Flynn
The Saints will open the 2011 against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night on NBC at Lambeau Field. This will match up the last two Super Bowl winners. It will also be Aaron Rodgers against Drew Brees. A great way to start the NFL season. That is if we have one.
- Bryan Flynn
Walt, Your right the Steelers need to upgrade their secondary and offensive line. Although they did make it to the Super Bowl with both glaring weaknesses. Pittsburgh would also like to start finding future starters on defense and add a running back. If a new CBA is ever reached, the Steelers could fill some needs in free agency. With half the starters on defense being over 30 it is time to add some youth to that side of the ball. A future replacement for Ward is also a need.
- Bryan Flynn