Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mike Detillier's Take on the Saints' Draft

The Black and Gold 2013 draft class and undrafted free agents hit the practice field on Friday as part of the team’s rookie mini-camp. 

College football analyst and NFL draft expert Mike Detillier shared his thoughts about the team’s new additions and on some of the players the Saints’ front office took a pass on in the recent draft, speculating which rookies will contribute immediately and who will prove to be the team’s best free-agent pickup.

Were you surprised the Saints passed on Jarvis Jones to select Kenny Vaccaro?

I was not surprised, but I thought they would go after Jones. This team still is in great need of a pass rush specialist. They also need a playmaker at safety and Vaccaro is a playmaker, but more along the lines of LaRon Landry than an Ed Reed or Earl Thomas.

What does this say about Jones that they passed on him?

It means they really believe that Victor Butler will be the "pass rush" specialist for this team. Rob Ryan came on the radio with us and he talked highly about Butler.  Butler now becomes the teams' biggest off-season free agent pick-up and he is the focal point of generating a pass rush from that outside linebacker slot. He has flashed it at Dallas, but he also has never been a fulltime starter and he always had DeMarcus Ware taking on multiple blockers.

If he gets hot in New Orleans as a pass rusher, he will be the target guy for blocking schemes.

It is something Joe Horn told me years ago, "There is a difference between being a number one receiver and a “two guy”. You have to beat double coverage as a number one receiver and the number two guy rarely sees it. It freaks a lot of second receivers out when some teams make him their main guy.  That holds true as a 3-4 outside linebacker as a pass rusher.

You wrote in your book that Kenny Vaccaro is similar to LaRon Landry. Was that a compliment?

Absolutely  People forget  Landry is one of the best safeties in the game when he is healthy. Like LaRon, Vaccaro is very physical, he comes up in a flash as a run defender, he is an intimidator in the secondary and he matches up well with tight ends downfield. Like LaRon, he doesn't have great hands. That surprised me with LaRon because he was a quarterback in high school, but like Kenny he is not a natural catching the ball. That is what makes people like Ed Reed, Earl Thomas, Jairus Byrd and Charles Woodson special. Like Darren Sharper was, they are ballhawks, but Kenny was a pick that I thought would go in that area.  This team needs to become more physical and Kenny gives them that feature.

But like it or not for Saints fans Jarvis Jones and Kenny Vaccaro will always be tied together because of where they were picked and right now there is no sure thing as a pass rusher.

On draft night on the radio with Shariff Floyd and Jones on the board you said the Saints would pick Vaccaro when they came up to pick. What changed things?


An agent friend of mine, who seems to always have a good read on where defensive backs will go, told me if Vaccaro is on the board the Saints would take him even if Jones was on the board. When I saw it occur I went with the strong tip.

He was wrong on one defensive back (Xavier Rhodes) and where he would end up, but he was dead right about Vaccaro and we both had the word that Eric Reid would end up in San Francisco.

Is he the free safety or strong safety of the future?

I think like LaRon Landry  his spot is at strong safety. Kenny Vaccaro is tailor-made for that spot. In the game today you need a physical presence at strong safety in run support and yet have the flexibility to be strong in the coverage part of the game. This team has been burnt so much by the athletic tight ends in the league. He is the one-on-one matchup guy. 

Who does Vaccaro then light a fire under most: Roman Harper or Malcolm Jenkins?

Both are professionals, but both know with a new defensive coordinator and Rob Ryan had a big say on picking Vaccaro they will both be motivated to play better.

It's human nature to play harder or work harder when you are being pushed.  In the long run Harper's spot will be filled by Kenny. With the money he is being paid Roman knows that the team will thank him for his overall play and his contributions to a Super Bowl run, but he most likely will not be here in 2014.

This season all three will be on the field in different spots and Jenkins used more in nickel and dime schemes as a cornerback.

Did maybe Jenkins' contract play a part in the selection of Vaccaro?

Malcolm is in a new scheme and it will be interesting to see if he fits well with Ryan's defense, but in this commuter league it is also about matchups and the pick was all about getting more physical in the secondary and also having some one to match up well in one-on-one situations downfield against the pass.

This is a big season for Jenkins to prove he is a "playmaker" at free safety, but what I see from him is that he doesn't take good angles to the ball against the pass and he misses too many openfield tackles. He needs to improve in those areas. He will make some real big plays, like we saw against Tampa Bay, and then whiff on others. I don't think his contract played a part in selecting Vaccaro.


You always say the draft is about value and addressing needs. Did the Saints do this in this draft?

If Butler becomes a really good edge pass rusher, then yes they did a great job getting value and filling needs. Vaccaro was a value pick and filled a huge void at safety. Terron Armstead is a really good football player and to be honest with so many offensive linemen getting picked in Round One I thought he might be gone and I wrote in my book that he is a better today than Jermon Bushrod was when he came out of Towson. In 2014 he is the starting left tackle for this team. He is a very focused player, extremely athletic and he has the feet of a much smaller player. Terron moves his feet so well for a big man and he has excellent adjustment skills. He will need to make that adjustment to the NFL and learn that from week to week you are going up against the best pass rushers the game can offer on the left side.

You think Armstead will start at left tackle in 2013?

I think the left tackle position is Charles Brown's to lose. It is not a question of talent, but health. If he stays healthy Brown will start, but he has been nicked up every year. I like Marcel Jones, who they picked up last season late in the draft from Nebraska, but he is more of a right tackle and I think if he can stay healthy he is the eventual replacement for Zach Strief at the right tackle spot.

You made that call on draft night on WWL Radio that Armstead would be the pick.  Did you have any insight?

Well, he was the best offensive lineman on the board and certainly he fit into a big need for this team. The coaches will love his work ethic and athleticism. He also seemed to fit a mold of a small college player that this team has had a knack for finding. Lucky call on my part. But all that said, this young man can play football no matter where he went to school.

When you were talking about players available you also talked about John Jenkins and that he would make a good pick, if they went for defense and then after the Armstead pick they made the trade with the NY Jets and got Jenkins.

I thought John Jenkins would go in Round Two. He is a huge man, a big space eater in the middle and someone that could be a difference-maker at nose tackle if he keeps his weight down and he gets motivated to give his all on each snap.

Typically big men wear down during games and this is where conditioning takes its toll. I think as Saints followers we all remember that first season when Norman Hand was with the team. He was a  big influence in the middle, but Norman was never the same after that 2000 season because he was just wasn't in the best of shape after that.

Just watch the film of the last two SEC Championship games. Georgia's defense and in particular their front line played at a very high level in the first half of those games, but once LSU started to pound the rock Jenkins and that first team unit wore down. Nick Saban did the exact same thing in 2012. He just fed the ball to Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon and that huge offensive line just wore out Georgia's front line.

He also needs to learn how to use his hands better to get off of blocks and I was glad he told us on WWL Radio that night that he is going to work with former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Chuck Smith-who specializes in hand usage and leverage. If he is motivated and keeps himself in good shape he could be a B.J. Raji-Green Bay Packers-type player. He has the talent, now it is up to Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson to get the best out of him.

How do you see Kenny Stills fitting with the Saints’ offense?

Kenny is a great fit for the Saints. He played in a system similar to what the Saints run and he excels as a route runner and someone that can really work the short to medium range areas of the field. He has good hands and he is a good set-up guy to get open downfield.

He has good speed, but where he excels is in his ability to work that short area of the field and that is what the Saints do so well offensively. Kenny's dad and uncle played pro football so he knows what it takes to play in the NFL. He was Landry Jones's "go-to" receiver the past two seasons and he knows this game at a high level. Sure handed target and he can just corkscrew defenders into the turf with his moves downfield.

Rufus Johnson played defensive end in college. Will he make the adjustment to outside linebacker?

Well Rufus got to over 270 pounds because he thought he would play defensive end in the pros, so he will probably get lighter to play outside linebacker. I didn't see a lot of tape on him, but he's athletic, he can get off the snap quickly and you can clearly see he works hard on each play.

There’s no “let up” in his play. His college coach, Cary Fowler, told me he was the best defensive front seven player he had ever coached and his greatest strength was his speed and his violent hands. Interesting player.

Before the draft in our last one-on-one you talked about the Saints possibly picking Tulane's Ryan Griffin in Round Six or if they picked up a 7th round pick.  The Saints were able to sign  him as an undrafted free agent.  Are you still high on him?

Yes I do. He's smart, very accurate with his throws, he has the arm strength to make all the throws in the book and he is tough. He didn't get great protection at Tulane and he got the best aerial views of stadiums across Conference USA, but he is a good player and the Saints knew all about him because he was coached last season by Curtis Johnson, who was the Saints WR. coach.

He has the skillset and intangibles to play in the NFL. Last season Griffin and Ryan Grant-the wide receiver at Tulane were terrific when they gave Ryan some time to throw. In 2014 Ryan Grant will be a middle round draft choice and he's a good football player also.

The Saints signed as undrafted free agents three linebackers that you graded in your book as middle round picks in North Carolina's Kevin Reddick, Stanford's Chase Thomas and Nebraska's Eric Martin. Would you agree that the Saints’ front office has an eye for unearthing hidden talent?

No question that since Sean Payton took over this team has built a reputation for giving undrafted free agents a fair chance to make the team. For some guys they just talk the talk, but with Payton and his staff, they have and agents know it.

With Reddick his story is a lot like what we saw from Jo-Lonn Dunbar when he came out of Boston College. Kevin is physical, a four-year starter for NC, he plays the game on balance and he has a knack for fighting off blockers well at the point of attack. He's a power player and instinctive.

I am a big Chase Thomas fan. He's smart, physical, he has quick read and react instincts and he has a nice array of moves and countermoves to defeat his opponent coming off the edge. Like Reddick he is a power player, but he was not the greatest workout guy. The last two years on one of the toughest defenses in college football Thomas racked up 32 tackles for losses and 16 quarterback sacks. He reminds me a lot of Dezman Moses, who played at Tulane, went undrafted and started for Green Bay last season.


Eric Martin is an interesting player. He basically was a special teams player until the 2012 season. Then he blew up last season recording 59 tackles, 18 1/2 tackles for losses and 8 1/2 quarterback sacks and 13 QB. hurries. He can cut the corner fast and just looks as though he has a feel for pressuring the quarterback. He is also a good special teams player. He was impressive last season at Nebraska. In many ways he is a lot like Victor Butler was when he came out of Oregon State.

Which rookie will have the biggest impact in 2013?

Kenny Vaccaro, no question. He has to play and play well early for the Saints for their defense to get better. I like his work ethic, his football instincts and I love what he brings to the table from a physical standpoint.

Which free agent will make the biggest difference on defense?

Well , Keenan Lewis is the consensus pick by most observers  everyone, and I like the pick-up of Lewis and I certainly like his match-up skills from a size and coverage standpoint, but Victor Butler has to play like not only an average guy, but a cut above starter because in this style defense his pass rush skills and pressure skills "potential" has to turn into production. This team needs to create a pass rush and Butler is the key.

On offense it is TE. Ben Watson. He gives this team something the New England Patriots have with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and  now the Saints have two very athletic pass catching tight ends and it will cause havoc for defenses to defend and give them another big body upfront to aid the running game. This team needs to get more physical in the running game and play a little "keep away" and I think that means Mark Ingram becomes the bellcow runner too. Ingram is someone who needs to get fed the ball more and let him get into his rushing groove and I really believe Sean Payton wants that in this offense and have Pierre Thomas be the second option in the running game and he will get a lot of touches as a backup runner and also as a receiver.

But the biggest addition this season is having Sean Payton back. He gives this team focus, a strong purpose and accountability. The Boss is back.  Now, we’ll have to see if they can piece together a good enough defense to combat the two powerhouse teams in the NFC right now in San Francisco and Seattle.



Monday, April 22, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Interview with Mike Detillier, Part II

In the second part of the interview with college football expert and NFL draft authority Mike Detillier, we asked the WWL 870 AM commentator about where he saw the New Orleans Saints going in the first round, running back Chris Ivory’s future with the Black and Gold and the team’s priority areas to be addressed in the 2013 draft. 

As always I am grateful for Mr. Detillier’s time and for sharing his wealth of knowledge about the most exciting week of the NFL without a game.

1.If Barkevious Mingo is off the board but Jarvis Jones is available, should the Saints select the Georgia linebacker and how much of a concern is his neck condition?

I really think Jarvis might be the guy for them. He has watched Mingo, Ezekiel Ansah and Dion Jordan just pass him up like he was going 30 miles per hour in a 60 miles per hour zone due to the off-season workouts though Jones has been the most dominant defensive player in the toughest conference in college football the last two seasons.

His neck is OK; it has been the workouts that have dropped him. I wouldn’t hesitate a second to pick him.

2.I have been hoping that the Saints would upgrade their linebacker corps through the draft since 2009 when the Saints passed on both Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews. Is this the year they finally use their first round pick to strengthen the linebacker position?

They need to. There is no sure thing with Martez Wilson, Junior Gallette or Victor Butler. This team needs to upgrade their pass rush first and foremost and it is not about scheme, but all about getting better talent and using it correctly on defense.

3.Is the position of outside linebacker still a priority for the Saints when taking into account that defensive ends Junior Gallette and Martez Wilson are being shifted to outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme?

Yes, it is priority, but I do think the change will help bring out the best in both Gallette and Wilson as players. They are best suited to play the 3-4 than at defensive end in a 4-3. Especially in the case of Junior. He looks like a natural as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

4.Jumping back to the subject of the 2009 NFL draft the Saints picked Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins in the first round.  The Jenkins selection came with an expensive opportunity cost when considering what the front office passed up on.  With Jenkins not having emerged as an elite defensive back and with his contract up at the end of this season, should the Saints address an upgrade and probable successor to Jenkins as free safety?

The Saints have no big-time playmakers at the safety spot. Jenkins has made some big plays on hustle and he is a good athlete, but he is not a strong openfield tackler and he doesn’t have great ball skills. Darren Sharper was special because of his ball skills. It’s an easy question to answer, Yes, they need help at both safety spots because now the league has turned into such a pitch and catch game and the Saints don’t match up well against teams with athletic tight ends and they can’t come up with big turnovers during crucial spots in a game.

5.You projected that the Saints will pick Fresno State free safety Phillip Thomas in the third round with the 75th overall selection.  Do you think Thomas will remain on the board that long and would it be wiser for the Saints to make a play for securing a second round pick to ensure his selection?

Well, I think he will still be there in Round Three. Now, he is a ballhawk and he has excellent hands. I like him a lot and he has good matchup coverage skills. People didn’t get to see him play a lot at Fresno State, but he has excellent football instincts and a knack for tracking the ball in flight. He needs to get stronger and upgrade his tacking skills.

6.With Chase Daniel’s departure as a free agent to Kansas City, the back up spot to Drew Brees has become a concern for the Saints.  Though the team has signed Seneca Wallace and Luke McCown and head coach Sean Payton’s track record of keeping no more than three quarterbacks on the roster, do you see the Saints using one of their limited selections on a quarterback?

Yes, I see them using a late round pick on a quarterback, possibly Ryan Griffin from Tulane. I have written for months that he would be a great fit,.  The team should know plenty about him and he was coached by a former Saints assistant in Curtis Johnson at Tulane. He has a strong arm, he has good mobility skills and very good leadership skills. The problem at Tulane was protecting him. They couldn’t do that part very well.

7.How big of handicap is going into the 2013 NFL draft without a second round selection ?

It’s awful. Losing Sean Payton was a one-year major hurt, but losing two second round picks are long range hurts. Those premium picks are just a big dent to this team to try and piece together a respectable defense because you are talented enough offensively to get back to the Super Bowl.

8.Do you believe General Manager Mickey Loomis is going to make a trade to add selections by either moving players out or trading down?

I think he would like to, but you won’t know that part until draft day. But to answer the question I would say yes. I think he tries to maneuver to acquire extra picks.

9.Do you see running back Chris Ivory returning to the team or is his second round tender too steep of a price for an interested team to digest?

A second round pick was way too steep, but a fourth rounder makes sense. Ivory will not return to this team in 2014 when his contract comes up and so get some value for him and to be honest the Saints have done a great job finding free agent halfbacks like Pierre Thomas, Ivory and Travaris Cadet last season.

12.  Behind linebacker, what would you say is the next greatest “need position” for the Saints?

Other than a pass rush, the biggest need is to find a couple of ballhawks for the secondary at cornerback and at safety. I also see them adding a wide receiver in the middle rounds.

13.Longtime Saints defensive end Will Smith, the lone player left on the roster from the Jim Haslett era, agreed to a renegotiated deal to stay with the Saints.  Though Smith has gotten relatively cheaper for the team’s tight salary cap position, the big defensive end isn’t getting any younger.  Do you see the Saints using one of their early selections on grooming a potential successor to Smith?

I could see that, but I am intrigued on what they do with Akiem Hicks, using him at both the nosetackle slot and at defensive end. I think he is the key upfront. He has unlimited talent and I think it is more at defensive end and teaming him up with Cameron Jordan makes a lot of sense for this team in the future.

14.  A week ago there was talk that the Saints might use their first round selection on a wide receiver.  Do you think that would be a wise move considering the defensive squad’s historically awful performance last season?

I see them using a middle round pick on a wide receiver. The talk of picking a wide receiver has all to do with trying to get teams to trade up to get one of them.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

NFL Draft 2013: Mike Detillier Interview on LSU Prospects

It’s draft week in the National Football League, an exciting time even though preseason play is still three months away. 

College football expert and NFL draft authority Mike Detillier was kind enough to field some questions about the 2013 player selection. 
The WWL 870 AM radio commentator and author of his eponymous draft guide offered his take on how LSU’s draft declared talent would fare, including a certain ballhawk whose tenure with the university football program ended prematurely. 

The interview has been broken into two segments, the first will focus mainly on the draft prospects of Louisiana college players and the second will examine the draft from the New Orleans Saints organization’s perspective.
1.Let me lead off with the question that is on the minds of all of the Who Dat nation and the LSU fan base, if linebacker Barkevious Mingo is still on the board when the Saints pick at the slot fifteen, do they select him?

If he is there, and that is a big if, yes, I pick him.  He is going to be a better pro than college player. He is a lot like Tamba Hali was when he came out of Penn State. Undersized defensive end who is tailor-made to play a 3-4 outside linebacker slot in the NFL. The Saints still need a dominant pass rusher in the worst way and he could be that solution.
2.How will LSU players overall fare in the 2013 NFL Draft?

This will be the best draft class ever for LSU.  Mingo and Eric Reid go in round one. Kevin Minter and Sam Montgomery go in the second round. Tharold Simon and Bennie Logan go on round three and Lavar Edwards goes in the fourth round.  I see Brad Wing, Chris Faulk, Michael Ford , Spencer Ware going late and P.J. Lonergan and Russell Shepard possibly getting picked late also.
3.Where do you see someone who is no longer affiliated with the university,  the Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu going in the draft?

Late second or early in round three.  Great punt returner and instantly he is the 3rd cornerback for 30 of the 32 teams in the NFL. Despite his off the field concerns he is a playmaker of the highest order and he just has great football instincts.
4.Former LSU punter Brad Wing is arguably the top punter in the 2013 NFL Draft though like Mathieu, he has a history of conduct problems.  Do you believe the Aussie has matured enough to make it in the NFL and what round do you see him being picked?

He has had some immature moments and that is why he last until the fifth round. He is one of the most gifted punters I have graded in 10 years. Tremendous leg strength and hangtime and he is an outstanding directional punter, but he has some troubling off the field issues and showed a lack of judgment.
5.You have Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin listed in your draft guide as the twelfth best signal caller on the board.  Do you think the Saints will try to pick him and by what round do you think he will be taken?
Yes, I think they will and I would say he will be around for round six or maybe even as late as round seven.

6.Your draft guide has to be one of the most comprehensive breakdowns of the NFL draft available for public consumption.  It’s almost 200 pages long, includes information about team free agent signings and trades plus data that would be helpful for fantasy football enthusiasts.  How many hours do you spend assembling this impressive football reference and do you still have any available for purchase?
Way too many.  I take a couple of weeks off in the summer, but every day I spend a few hours evaluating talent at the college and prep level, everyday. I do a ton of radio and TV shows, but I make time everyday to look at and grade players at the college level.

We had a great run this year and we are sold out and I want to thank everyone that has ordered. There was a lot of interest in this year’s draft class.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Deal of the Century: Saints Pull Megatrade with Colts

Brees, Moore Go to Indy for Luck, Mathis, Draft Picks

It will go down as either the day the New Orleans Saints franchise began to die or the day it was reborn, though in the opinion of one longtime NFL observer, it was a move both teams needed to make.

Reports have spread the organization has traded franchise quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Lance Moore to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for their starting quarterback Andrew Luck, Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis and their First (24th overall) and Third (86th overall) round selections in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Also as part of the agreement the Saints will swap fourth round picks with Indianapolis.  New Orleans will send over their 109th overall selection for the Colts’ 122th overall pick.  Neither team has a pick in the second round, with New Orleans losing theirs as part of the NFL’s punishment for the team’s alleged bounty scandal while Indianapolis sent its second round selection to Miami as part of a previous trade.

Though the move will comes as a shock to the Black and Gold faithful.  In addition to his and his wife Brittany’s charity work throughout Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the future Pro Football Hall of Famer is the most popular figure in the entire state of Louisiana.

“Brees isn’t just a great player; he is the franchise,” said managing editor Danny Tompkins.  “Nobody did more to not only turn the organization around but raise the spirits of the city as well.  I understand the reasons for (the trade) and I think the Saints got great value considering what they gave up.  I just don’t think I could have pulled the trigger.”

Longtime Indianapolis sports writer L. Bridge Gerry also was floored by what is being touted as the greatest sports trade of all time.  “After losing Peyton (Manning), the franchise just hasn’t been the same.  Sure, Andrew (Luck) is great.  Brought the team to the playoffs in his first season, but number 18’s cleats are too big for him to fill,” said Gerry.  “Brees on the other hand can bring us to the next level this season.”

Brees is no stranger to Indiana.  Having spent four years with the Purdue Boilermakers, Brees set team and Big Ten records that still stand.  Last year, Purdue’s trustees voted to name their student-athlete study center after the Breeses, who had donated $2,000,000.00 for its construction.  Brees’s following in Indiana is so strong that Lafayette, IN is the only city north of the Mason-Dixon line that is part of the Saints radio network.

Sports financial analyst Garret Hobart echoed Tompkins’s comments about both the painfulness of the decision to move Brees but the necessity as well.

“Clearly the Saints were not making big splashes in free agency.  The nine-figure contract was too me much for the team to swallow,” said Hobart, referencing Brees’s then-record setting $100,000,000.00 contract.  “The front office was in a pickle; how do you not sign your team’s greatest player ever but then how can you live with a contract that essentially prevents you from fixing the worst ever defense?”

Hobart pointed out that with $40,000,000 of salary cap gap and a young team, the Colts was the logical suitor for Brees.  “His history with Purdue is huge.  He’s certainly one of the greatest players of all time and he’s the only person who could come close to plugging the hole Manning left,” said Hobart.

The Saints pick up a proven defensive playmaker in Mathis, who will put pressure on opposing quarterbacks that was lacking for the Black and Gold.  Mathis racked up 8 sacks last season.  In Luck, the Saints have their young quarterback of the future and can now afford to buy him some protection at tackle with the new cap space.

Though popular with local fans, Moore helped sweeten the deal for the Colts.  With his steady hands making him a favorite target of Brees, Moore will also help the Colts as a potential punt return option.

Though the neither team’s front office have confirmed the trade, player Twitter accounts flared up late Easter evening as news began to spread about Brees’s departure for the north.

“I feel numb,” tweeted tight end Jimmy Graham.  “All I can say is April Fool’s”.

The rest of this story is filler in the event you scanned to the very bottom of this write-up to verify that it is a prank and not an actual story.  That said I bet that a bunch of people won’t bother reading to the end and will simply stop reading after a few paragraphs.  But to really mix things up I am going to throw in a few other quotes from players.

Defensive end Will Smith, one of the longest tenured players on the team, also tweeted his bewilderment with the news of the Brees trade.  “I feel like someone dropped a piano on me,” tweeted Smith.

Defensive captain Jonathan Vilma, expressed his best wishes to Brees.  The Saints quarterback publicly backed his teammate throughout the Saints bounty scandal.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mike Detillier's Top Players by Position for the 2013 NFL Draft

Though we are still a week away from Super Bowl XLVII, it's not too early to start looking at this year's NFL draft, especially for the Black & Gold faithful coping with our team's first non-playoff season since 2008.

WWL 870 AM commentator and college football expert Mike Detillier annually publishes one of the most comprehensive NFL draft reviews around, closely analyzing hundreds of players. In advance of the release of his 2013 NFL Draft breakdown, Detillier has shared his player rankings by position.

(Saints fans might want to pay extra attention to the outside linbacker, defensive tackle and safety categories.)

Detillier's 2013 NFL Draft Guide can be pre-ordered on his website,


1. Geno Smith-West Virginia

2. Matt Barkley-USC

3. Mike Glennon-North Carolina State

4. Ryan Nassib-Syracuse

5. Tyler Wilson-Arkansas


1. Giovani Bernard-North Carolina

2. Eddie Lacy-Alabama

3. Montee Ball-Wisconsin

4. Andre Ellington-Clemson

5A.. Joseph Randle-Oklahoma State

5B. Johnathan Franklin-UCLA


1. Lonnie Pryor-Florida State

2. Zach Line-SMU

3. Braden Wilson-Kansas State

4. Zach Boren-Ohio State

Wide Receivers

1. Keenan Allen-California

2 Cordarrelle Patterson-Tennessee

3.DeAndre Hopkins-Clemson

4.Terrance Williams-Baylor

5A.Robert Woods-USC

5B.Tavon Austin-West Virginia

5C. Quinton Patton-Louisiana Tech

5D. Justin Hunter-Tennessee

Tight Ends

1. Zach Ertz-Stanford

2. Tyler Eifert-Notre Dame

3. Jordan Reed-Florida

4. Vance McDonald-Rice

5A. Dion Sims-Michigan State

5B. Gavin Escobar-San Diego State

Offensive Centers

1. Travis Frederick-Wisconsin

2. Barrett Jones-Alabama

3. Brian Schwenke-California

4. Khalid Holmes-USC

5. Dalton Freeman-Clemson

Offensive Guards

1. Chance Warmack-Alabama

2. Jonathan Cooper-North Carolina

3. Justin Pugh-Syracuse

4. Kyle Long-Oregon

5. Brian Winters-Kent State

Offensive Tackles

1. Luke Joeckel-Texas A&M

2. Eric Fisher-Central Michigan

3. Lane Johnson-Oklahoma

4. Oday Aboushi-Virginia

5. D.J. Fluker-Alabama

Defensive Ends

1. Damontre Moore-Texas A&M

2. Bjoern Werner-Florida State

3. Dion Jordan-Oregon

4A. Sam Montgomery-LSU

4B. Datone Jones-UCLA

5A. Ezekiel Ansah-Brigham Young

5B. Alex Okafor-Texas

5C. Margus Hunt-SMU

Defensive Tackles

1. Star Lotulelei-Utah

2. Johnathan Hankins-Ohio State

3. Sheldon Richardson-Missouri

4A. Sharrif Floyd-Florida

4B. Jesse Williams-Alabama

5A. Bennie Logan-LSU

5B. John Jenkins-Georgia

Inside Linebackers

1. Alec Ogletree-Georgia

2. Manti Te'o-Notre Dame

3. Kevin Minter-LSU

4. Jon Bostic-Florida

5. Nico Johnson-Alabama

Outside Linebackers

1. Jarvis Jones-Georgia

2. Barkevious Mingo-LSU

3. Khaseem Greene-Rutgers

4. Chase Thomas-Stanford

5A. Arthur Brown-Kansas State

5B. DeVonte Holloman-South Carolina


1. Dee Milliner-Alabama

2. Xavier Rhodes-Florida State

3. Johnthan Banks-Mississippi State

4A. Logan Ryan-Rutgers

4B. Jamar Taylor-Boise State

5A. Jordan Poyer-Oregon State

5B. Robert Alford-Southeastern Louisiana

5C. Leon McFadden-San Diego State

Free Safeties

1. Eric Reid-LSU

2. Kenny Vaccaro-Texas

3. Phillip Thomas-Fresno State

4. Tony Jefferson-Oklahoma

5. Bacarri Rambo-Georgia

Strong Safeties

1. Matt Elam-Florida

2. Robert Lester-Alabama

3. Shawn Williams-Georgia

4. T.J. McDonald-USC

5A. Jonathan Cyprien-Florida International

5B. Shamarko Thomas-Syracuse


1. Brad Wing-LSU

2. Ryan Allen-Louisiana Tech

3. Jeff Locke-UCLA


1. Dustin Hopkins-Florida State

2. Quinn Sharp-Oklahoma State

3. Caleb Sturgis-Florida

4. Brett Maher-Nebraska

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Awful in Atlanta

Five interceptions. 

The “BrUnitas” streak ended.

An opportunity to break into the playoff picture squandered.

Game over.

Season over.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had the second worst day in his professional football career in Atlanta on Thursday night.

His worst day of course being the final game of the 2005 season while with the San Diego Chargers when his shoulder got mangled against the Denver Broncos.

On Thursday night football, the $100 million man was far from bionic.  It could truly be said that the Saints’ best player cost his team the game and then some.

That it was to the benefit of the hated Atlanta Falcons compounds things.  Especially after the egging the team’s bus received courtesy of some airport workers.

I generally turn a blind eye to that kind of prankery, but I hope the culprits are not just disciplined, but fired.  To merely blow off this kind of antic at an airport, a center of hypersecurity in our post-9/11, is to invite others to push the envelope further.

While Atlanta is not exactly a slice of heaven, it’s not Caracas either.  And it seems some its denizens need to be reminded of this.

When “hating” devolves to “assault”, serious punishment needs to be meted out to underscore the severity of the crime.   

What happened in the Georgia Dome on Thursday night was the manifestation of a season that got cursed once word of the Saints’ “bountygate” reached the public’s ears.

“King Roger’s” wrath finally caught up with the Black and Gold. 

Had the Saints not been hit with penalties to its draft, front office, head coach and interim head coach, it’s likely the team would have started the 2012 regular season no worse than 2-2, instead of 0-4.  Had the road trip to Atlanta played out exactly as it did in that scenario, the game would have been like a bad hangover to be exorcised with a trip to the post-season, even if only as a wild card.

Instead, many bad things converged in downtown Atlanta at a most inconvenient time.

The Atlanta Falcons not only creeped that much closer to securing the NFC South division and homefield advantage in the playoffs, they did so at the expense of their rivals while leaving the field with Drew Brees’s historic consecutive touchdown streak as an additional trophy.

Thursday night was a new low for the Sean Payton era Saints. 

Brees failed not only as a passer but also as a field general.  He inexplicably wasted precious seconds on the team’s last drive in the second quarter and then made a poor decision to target a receiver a few yards outside the endzone instead of taking a shot at the endzone or killing the clock by throwing the ball away. 

That was Les Miles-like clock mismanagement and uncharacteristic of the franchise quarterback.

The Saints are not officially eliminated from contending for a playoff spot, but the road to the post-season looks arduous.

In addition to having to win the four remaining games on the schedule, the Saints need the five teams ahead of them to practically collapse.  The early losses to the Washington Redskins and the Green Bay Packers not only cost the team in the win column but with tiebreakers. 

Last season, the Saints were only a single play away from hosting the NFC Championship game in the Superdome and possibly claiming its second Lombardi Trophy. 

This season it was death by a thousand cuts with Brees’s picks against Atlanta counting as five of the largest.

The 2012 Saints are a far better team than their record reflects and the difference between where they are and where they should be is coaching.

Who Dats better hope Sean Payton doesn’t get too comfortable in his Goodell-imposed Dallas-exile.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Onside Kick's Interview with Mike Detillier

College football expert and NFL Draft guru Mike Detillier was kind enough to field some questions from The Onside Kick concerning the opening third of the 2012 New Orleans Saints season. 

Detillier shared his thoughts about whether the team has a reasonable chance of making the playoffs, the wisdom of having a coach by committee system, Devery Henderson’s future with the Saints and other questions.

  1. What would you say is the biggest problem affecting the team?
A lack of team confidence and attention to details. That is something Sean Payton was a stickler for and it is missing right now. The win over San Diego helps, but this team has dug themselves a huge hole and it will be tough to get to double digit wins.

There is a certain swagger gone from this team without the general leading the way. Sean was the emotional heartbeat on this team.
In a nutshell, team confidence and the attention to the smallest of details are missing.
  1. Did you foresee a Payton-less Saints squad struggling so much this year?
No, I really thought they could overcome this without him. I don’t think anyone thought this team would struggle this badly early on. You thought with Drew Brees and basically most of the offense back things would continue to work, but no one thought the defense would struggle this bad and the lack of a running game and a commitment to the run is alarming. You can’t be one dimensional in this league. It goes to show just how much Sean Payton really means to this organization. His play-calling skills are just unbelievable and Sean has the best offensive mind in the business right now.
  1. Why have the Saints had such a hard time establishing a run game?
Well, first of all they have fallen behind early in some games and went strictly to the pass, but there is no true commitment to run the ball like what we saw down the stretch last year. They are averaging about 19 rushes per game. Last season down the stretch it was 27 and they are averaging under a yard less per carry. Losing Carl Nicks hurt, but in this league you have to be able to run the ball when you need to.
So far, that has not happened and there is no commitment to the run and late in the Green Bay game they didn’t really try to when you could have tried and finish that team off. They did replace one All-Pro guard with another.  But Nicks is the best in the game right now and he is really missed upfront.
  1. Would you agree that the two best first round draft picks since 2006 now play for other teams?
I believe the move to cut loose Reggie Bush and bring in Darren Sproles was a win/win for both the Dolphins and Saints. Reggie was a good player when he was healthy, but he was always hurt in New Orleans. He has stayed healthy and been super for the Dolphins and Sproles has been fantastic in New Orleans. Bush wanted and needed a change of scenery.

Robert Meachem is a “chip” player at best. He is not a #1 wide receiver in the NFL. At best he is a #2. He had a role here in New Orleans and he did a very good job when healthy, but he got an unbelievable contract in San Diego and so, he made the right choice and the Saints did also to let him walk.
What is disappointing is not getting really good production from Sedrick Ellis and Will Smith. Cameron Jordan has good long-range potential and I like him, but right now Brodrick Bunkley has been disappointing also. You are getting bang for your buck with these guys with the exception of Jordan.

5.  Considering his low yards per carry average, would you write off Mark Ingram as a bust at this point?
I don’t consider him a bust, but he is someone that needs 12 to 15 carries to warm up as a runner and he won’t get that in New Orleans. It is running back by committee and he has not shown he can be that “closer” this team needs right now. He is not the most sure-handed receiver also coming out of the backfield like Pierre and Sproles. This team needs to get the ball in the hands of Pierre Thomas more and give Chris Ivory his chance to be that thumper between the tackles.
Right now it is just not a good fit for what Ingram does best and he never gets truly warmed up as a runner, like what he did at Alabama. He was a real force in the 3rd and 4th quarter of games in college, but we haven’t seen that element in his play in the pros.
  1. Do you see a future on this team for Joe Morgan or Greg Camarillo??
Joe has big-play skills and speed, but he is just not a confident player right now and he looks a lot like a young Devery Henderson. He is just not making the catch out front with his hands and he is letting the ball get too close to him. He also has a habit of taking off before the secure catch. He has a big upside, but they will have to be patient with his development. I love his ability to stretch the field and his speed in the openfield, but right now he is just not a real confident player and he needs to hone down his eye-hand coordination better and have a better grasp of the playbook. He will admit he makes too many mental errors.

On Camarillo, he is a good slot receiver. He doesn’t have great speed and he is not real tall, but he is tough, a smart route runner, he catches the ball cleanly and he has great rapport with Drew. He just finds the open spots in a secondary and he catches the ball so well. He is also a very good downfield blocker. He’s a good “fit” player on this team.

  1. Devery Henderson is one of only two players left on the team from the Jim Haslett era.  Do you think this is his final season in a Saints uniform?
 Oh no, he is having an excellent season and Brees trusts him fully. No one could have guessed when they both came out of LSU that Devery would have the much better NFL career than Michael Clayton, but it is not even close. I think he will be back and he has really improved as a route runner and he still has that big play speed that can stretch a defense. Where he has really improved is as a route runner and getting his head turned around quicker to make the grab. Early on in his career he was not a good route runner and he wasn’t looking the ball in good because he wasn’t getting his head turned around quick enough. He will be back in 2013.
  1. The Saints signed three linebackers and traded for one as well.  Do you think shifting Martez Wilson to defensive end was a wise move in retrospect?
            Yes , it was the right move. Martez is a natural as a pass rusher and he has the closing speed few have. He is still a work in progress to get off of blockers in a quicker manner and he needs to develop a better group of moves and countermoves.  He is their most explosive pass rush element, but he is really rough around the edges as a technician. His speed and explosive qualities are the best on this team upfront and he should get more playing time as the season goes along. If you play him fulltime teams will run the ball right at him until he physically gets stronger at the point of attack and understands positioning and leverage skills better. But he is a real big-time element as a potential pass rusher, once he understands the position better.
  1. Why aren’t Wilson and Junior Gallette not getting more time at defensive end?
 Good question. Steve Spagnuolo says Galette is his best defensive front-line player, but he isn’t starting. That’s his call. They need to be playing more and be out on the field in obvious pass rush situations and I would like to see more of the four line set-up of Galette/Wilson at defensive end and Cam Jordan and either Will Smith or Turk McBride inside.
  1. Do you believe the Saints should have brought in a full-time head coach for the 2012 season instead of having a rotating head coach situation?
 No, they did the right thing. Aaron Kromer is in a tough spot. He is doing the best he can, but he knows he is just a part-time coach and that puts him in a real difficult spot. This spot is unprecedented and there was no real blueprint on what to do. The Commissioner really overstepped his authority here and the incident never should have been dealt with this harshly. I do know that Joe Vitt will bring some fire to this team. That is his personality. But the hole is huge to climb out of. There is just no real good blueprint to work off of.
  1. Do you think letting Tracy Porter go to another team was a mistake?
 Yes, but the injury issue was major for a long term deal. He wanted to stay here but the deal with the Broncos was much better than the Saints offer. Healthy he is a really good player, but he is awfully thin and he has had a bunch of injuries to deal with on a yearly basis. He is really missed in this secondary because of Jabari’s groin issues and he has excellent cover skills. The problem is keeping him healthy. I would really want to see him on this team and healthy. The young kids in Corey White, Johnny Patrick and also Patrick Robinson are getting picked on, but they can’t cover forever. There is no pass rush to aid them.

Do you think the Saints have a reasonable chance of making the playoffs this season?
Its’ reasonable, but it will be awfully tough. Drew Brees and the offense will have to play great the rest of the way out for them to get to 10 wins and you will need 10 wins to get to the playoffs. It’s a longshot for them, but they are still an awfully good team on offense.

  1. What two things good came out of the San Diego win?

First, the protection for Drew Brees was outstanding and Marques Colston looks to be healthy. He has been a key the last two games and when healthy he is one of the best “Big” wide outs in the game. I liked the protection and the good health of Colston. Whoa, Colston is just unstoppable at times and one of the most underrated players offensively in the game.

Secondly, it would be the ability this defense, as leaky as it is, to come up with turnovers. They are on the plus side right now. That could help out greatly down the stretch. In 2009 that was the only time they were in the plus category and they have shown a knack for getting some turnovers. Now, they just need to stop people and produce a better pass rush on a consistent basis in a league full of great signal-caller and the very best group of wide receivers and pass receiving tight ends this league has ever had at one time.