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The Sports Daily > The Saints Nation
Mailbag: Questions on Saints’ Defensive Direction, the Draft and More

It's been a while since we got the mailbag going, which is really just twitter questions. Lots of good ones this time around so thanks to everyone for participating. That always makes it fun Saints dialog. Let's get right into it:

 

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Extremely dangerous to be thinking a position, or a player, when you pick 27th in the draft. 

So much can happen in the 26 picks ahead of you it's impossible to predict. Locking in on a position is a mistake some teams make, and sometimes they draft a guy that is much much worse than the value of their pick. We often see this when teams select a quarterback especially. I think the Saints will pick the best player available, within reason. If that guy is tight end Eric Ebron, a running back, or a quarterback… they may pass and select a guy that fits more of a need. Obviously the "need" department depends largely on what transpires with Jimmy Graham, Zach Strief and Brian de la Puente in free agency. If they lose Strief and one of the top four tackles in the draft is available (Lewan, Martin, Robinson, Matthews) I think they have a real hard time passing. If Strief stays, the draft is deep at corner and receiver so that may be something they target early, or possibly skip in the first round knowing they'll be talent to be had later in the draft. As a Saints fan you should root for as many teams as possible to take a quarterback in the first round. The Saints won't draft one anyway, and the more that get picked, the more talent at other positions might fall to them.

 

 

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It sure looks like it, and I have no problem with that. Both guys played extremely well in 2013 and were pleasant surprises. Honestly, I don't think the Jenkins/Harper tandem ever played as well as those two did. The one caveat I'll throw out there is that the Saints love moving Kenny Vaccaro around. They love the versatile skill set he possesses, and that's why you saw him shadowing Tony Gonzalez in week 1, shadowing Vincent Jackson in week 2, and often playing in the slot on passing downs. That means Vaccaro has a bit of a nickel back/rover/utility use, which could necessitate a third safety in the mix if they want to continue doing that. With Jenkins in limbo, Harper cut and Abdul-Quddus a pre-playoff roster casualty, there's really not much on the roster and you know Rob Ryan LOVES his safeties. There was a competition of about 8 guys plus last training camp. They'll definitely add some talent at that position and expect Bush to be tested for his spot.

 

 

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No. He's an unrestricted free agent and I don't see the Saints bringing him back. I think that bridge was burned the minute he was benched in favor of Terron Armstead, and frankly I don't think the staff has any confidence in him moving forward at any position. I think it's time for both sides to move on and maybe a change of scenery could do Brown some good. Sometimes a player doesn't reach his potential until he plays for his second team in the NFL and Brown has talent, but I think his problem is a mental one. He was the second most penalized offensive lineman in the NFL in 2013, and he missed numerous audibles and rotation changes, especially on the road with the crowd noise (where focus is at a premium). Worse than it being a talent issue, it's one of lack of preparation and I just think mentally he's in over his head as a starting tackle. Once a team doesn't believe you have it in between the ears, it's hard to gained confidence back. Maybe the experience of starting 14 games and being healthy will be a good experience for him, but he did not improve as the season continued. I think regardless of what happens with Strief, Charles Brown won't be a Saint in 2013. 

 

 

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Welp, it's pretty much impossible to answer this one without offending SOMEONE. But if about 5% of the population is gay (I have no idea, I'm just guessing with that number) odds are at least two guys on each team is gay. Now, I'm sure the national average is much higher % wise than the % of players being gay in the NFL. I say that because I think on some level it's recognized that football can be a homophobic environment, and perhaps that dissuades some gay people from getting invested in the sport from a playing perspective. Still, I bet there's at least 20 gay NFL players. That number is an absolute minimum. Some more successful than others. Odds are, there's a couple huge names that are not out. Anyway, there's no way I'm guessing which Saints player that could be, Kenny Stills or otherwise. If you put a gun to my head, is it too late to say Garrett Hartley?🙂

 

 

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Absolutely. 100%. Remember the Saints recruited both Tracy Porter and Nnamdi Asomugha after they signed Keenan Lewis last offseason, so they weren't psyched with depth then. That was before Jabari Greer destroyed his knee and got cut, and before Patrick Robinson destroyed his too. The depth at corner is a HUGE cause for concern. I think they will pick up multiple corners this offseason. At least two. The top rookies in my estimation are Darqueze Dennard, Justin Gilbert and Jason Verrett. There's a decent chance the last two could be available at 27 and if Gilbert is, I would personally think long and hard about drafting him. Verrett too, but I view Gilbert as a pretty safe bet to be a good player. Based on what I saw size do for Keenan Lewis this season I'm convinced another big frame guy like Gilbert on the other side would be good. As far as free agents, it's going to be hard to land a good one with the cap situation the Saints are in. My pie in the sky guy is probably Aqib Talib because of what he did to Jimmy Graham when the Saints played the Patriots. Brent Grimes, Vontae Davis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are out there too, but if their teams lose them it will be for big time money I'm afraid. Another guy I'll throw out there is Charles "Peanut" Tillman. He's 33 and probably over the hill, but hey, the Saints tried to get Asomugha on the cheap last year didn't they? 

 

 

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I'm on the fence with Lance, I really think it's 50-50 whether he stays or not. I think the Saints will try to get him to take a salary reduction, something more in line with his current level of production. There's no denying 2013 was a down year for him overall. If he refuses, the Saints need to find cap room somewhere and cutting him could accomplish that. But regardless of whether he stays or not, I think getting a receiver in the draft should be an important item. I could see the Saints taking OBJ if some of the other guys they target get picked before 27. I think he's a better NFL prospect with a higher ceiling than Landry due to his freakish talent and his home run threat ability. That said, I would love landing Landry if he falls to the Saints' 2nd rounder. He's more NFL ready and polished in my mind than OBJ and I think Landry could make a solid impact in week one. I think OBJ will take a little while to be good kind of like you saw with Cordarrelle Patterson this year in Minnesota. I'm a huge fan of both players and it would be great to see either of them with the Saints. Either way, I want the Saints to draft a receiver that can help them stretch the field.

 

 

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Popular topic! OBJ has a higher ceiling but Landry is more solid and polished right now. I am more confident Landry will be a "good" NFL receiver. I am also confident OBJ is the only one of the two that can be "great". I'd be happy with either, I think they can both help the Saints, but if I'm deciding at 27 who to pick the answer is OBJ. Now if you told me I could get one of the top four tackles at 27 and Landry in the 2nd round, I'd pick that over OBJ at 27. So part of this whole process is evaluating what else is available and can help the team. But I think OBJ can help the Saints more on special teams, a big need, and they can use his speed to play as a decoy while he learns on the fly much like they've done with Joe Morgan and Kenny Stills (to an extent) in the past. 

 

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Yes and no. I mostly think the guys they cut were because of the cap and because of the fact they didn't really need them anymore. Those guys, with the possible exception of Greer, are just depth luxuries they can't afford financially. If you think about the guys cut, they've kind of already been replaced with the exception of Jabari Greer. Lofton and Hawthorne are well in place making Vilma unnecessary, Harper's heir apparent is already in the mix in Vaccaro, and with Cam Jordan, Akiem Hicks and Junior Galette there wasn't much need for an aging Will Smith. It will be interesting to see what they do to replace Greer, though. If you look at their starting lineup on D, a lot of it is heavy investments, actually. Jordan (1st round), Hicks (3rd round), Bunkley (FA), John Jenkins (3rd round), Lofton (FA), Hawthorne (FA), Galette (UDFA), Lewis (FA), Vaccaro (1st round), Bush (waiver/FA). Of that list I only really view Galette and maybe Bush as young guys that they've found in uncoventional ways.That said, when you look at the depth your suggestion gains a lot more creedance. Glenn Foster, Tyrunn Walker, Kevin Reddick, Ramon Humber, Corey White, Keyunta Dawson and Rod Sweeting all reflect the core depth on the defense and most of those guys came to the Saints from paths that would make you suspect they'd have no shot at the 53 roster. There's no doubt that late in the draft they'll look to add guys that fit what Rob Ryan is looking for. Let's be real, with what Drew Brees' contract and possibly Jimmy Graham's will do to the Saints' cap, it will force the team to scout well and deliver productive players from low investments. That's the only way this team will continue to win with with two crippling contract cap killers, by being smart with who they add in the later rounds of the draft.