Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 NFL Draft: First Round Is for the Birds

New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis once entertainingly quipped that the Saints had all of the love in the world for UFA free safety Darren Sharper but just not all the money.

The Saints first round, 32nd overall pick is a sign that the organization now has neither for the future Hall of Famer.

Rather than addressing what seemed to be the obvious weakness of the Saints defense, the front seven, outside linebacker and defensive tackle in particular, the team used their selection on a defensive back.

In my five years of observing Saints draft fests, I have never witnessed a euphoric moment transform into a wake after quarterback Drew Brees announced cornerback Patrick Robinson's selection. And not even having the franchise's greatest hero promulgating the pick could take the obvious sting out of it, part shock that the front seven was not enhanced, part realization that it was a sign that the Sharper era in organization is at a close.

Granted the Saints' options at that point weren't stellar. The Atlanta Falcons grabbed the highly coveted Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (a fear I hope that could have been mitigated by trading up) and then the Arizona Cardinals snagged Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams.

With the pickings slim, it would have seemed that a trade down would have been in order. Granted that's assuming anyone was interested in accommodating them and/or assuming general manager Mickey Loomis was interested in such a move.

As mystifying of a pick as it was, it's hard to question the judgment of the man who was the architect of the defending World Champions. Loomis's fingerprints were all over the team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in his 2009 off-season free agent acquisitions, last minute trades and last year's then-controversial move to trade up to get a punter.

Most fans thought that was insanity; I didn't. However, I'm no more of a fan of this selection as I was that of safety/cornerback Malcolm Jenkins last year. I thought that USC linebacker Brian Cushing was the smarter move. Cushing's ProBowl rookie season and Jenkins' unremarkable validates my position.

Unless of course Jenkins blossoms into a star like the much maligned Robert Meachem did, a pick which I favored and stood by while the Crescent City's sportsbloggery angrily hurled their rhetorical feces at the Tennessee wide receiver.

Going into the draft, Saints brass joked about how much they liked being last. There was less pressure in terms of making a decision and later in conducting negotiations with the 32nd overall pick, who would not command as much money as an earlier selection.

But after watching coveted players get swooped up by the competition, picking last is definitely for the birds.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TOK's 2010 Saints Draft Report: Trade Up Or Down, But Don't Stand Pat

NFL Draft Day is one of my favorite times of the sports calendar. Even more so than post-season (last year’s excepted) as the Saints ARE ALWAYS (Mike Ditka years excepted) in the Draft but not always in the playoffs.

Admittedly, I have more of a general manager-mind than a coaching-mind.

My coaching skills are limited to the following: don’t throw too much; kick/punt on 4th down; get your team properly acclimated to cold weather when playing on the road during the winter; and don’t try to execute a double-reverse with Reggie Bush and Devery Henderson when you have the lead. And that’s about it.

Hence 95% of my criticisms of head coach Sean Payton since 2006 are within the realm of the aforementioned.

But drafts picks and trades are my thing.

Since 2006, I accurately predicted three out of four 1st round draft selections, even the trade-up for USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. The only one where I was wrong was last year’s Malcolm Jenkins pick; I kind of figured the Saints were going in that direction buy I didn’t want to believe it and/or hoped someone else would have taken him.

My choice was USC linebacker Brian Cushing, who was plucked by the Houston Texans on the very next pick. Jenkins had an unspectacular year in 2009 as a fill-in cornerback; Cushing made the Pro-Bowl.

But enough of that. Hopefully the Ohio State defensive back will make as much of a fool of me as Tennessee wide receiver Robert Meachem made of his legion of haters in 2009.

+ + + + +

I remember during the 2007 NFL Draft when Saints owner Tom Benson shuffled his way to the stage to address the surly fans griping about the Meachem pick.

I was a little surprised by the move as Benson has never pretended to be much of a man of the people and one to face off with a circus tent full of inebriated Saints fans. But then again, Mr. Benson is a product of the 9th Ward, historically the toughest neighborhood in New Orleans when it was predominantly white and when it became predominantly black.

Amazingly, the fans quickly shifted their mental gears and gave the owner a rousing ovation. After some small talk Benson closed with the statement, “I have some bad news for you all. Next year you’re going to have to wait even longer for our pick when we choose at 32”. If you’re reading this column, you probably know the implication that picking at 32 means you’re team won the Super Bowl.

That or Ditka snuck in another trade.

While Mr. Benson was probably just trying to be cute with his rah-rah talk, I’ve waited for those words to one ring true. And they finally have.

+ + + + +

With the 32nd selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, the World Champion New Orleans Saints pick…

Hopefully nobody.

I’m counting on the front office pulling a “Crazy Ivan” or in the Saints’ case a “Loony Loomis” move and trade up to snag Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon at one time was within the Black and Gold’s reach at 32nd but other teams have taken notice. He’s like another Jonathan Vilma when it comes to being a leader on the defense.

And he can play even if he is a tad undersized…though not to the same degree that Jason David was the Billy Barty of defensive backs and made Saints fans weep over the memory of Fred Thomas.

Outside linebacker is a position of need for the Saints, only behind defensive tackle. Though the team has a lot of young players at that position that fill the vacuum left by Scott Fujita, none of them strike me as having the same potential as Weatherspoon.

Over the weekend, I had a conversation with a local figure of prominence that is very familiar with the NFL and he’s also high on Weatherspoon. I won’t mention his name as we were shooting the breeze off the record but this expert is also hoping for a trade up.

I’m of the philosophy that drafts should be about addressing the needs of today and tomorrow. As Mike Detillier mentioned in the interview I conducted with him, a good general manager has to be cognizant of not only this season’s holes but also next season’s due to age, contracts and “signability”.

The Saints are going to be a totally different team in 2011, which could turn out to be a lot like 1993. But that’s a screed for another time.

In order to get Weatherspoon, the Saints will have to get somewhere in the late teens, drafting no later than 22. And that’s a stretch at 22nd.

San Francisco has two picks in the draft (13 and 17) with its second being just ahead of the Atlanta Falcons, who choose at 19.

The Saints have some decent trade bait with tackle Jammal Brown, who has Pro Bowl credentials and a full regular season’s rest on Injured Reserve on his résumé

Detillier believes Brown could be worth 2nd and a 5th round picks; how about swapping a firsts and throwing in a third? The team could also move one of its wide receivers.

If the Saints were unable to make the move on Weatherspoon, the second option would be to trade down with an early round team that needs a quarterback that’s still on the board.

The Saints would be in an excellent position to haggle their way out of the 1st round, collect high 2nd and 3rd selections. And then you still have Brown to deal away and maybe a wide receiver.

Does anyone think an ornery Lance Moore is going to get what he wants from Loomis once the salary cap is reinstated? As they say in Cut Off, Hell Non!

If the Saints trade down (or if they get stuck with number 32), look for the team to draft the best defensive tackle available OR the best tight end available, though I’m betting on the former more so than the latter.

Drafting a pure defensive end isn’t likely Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson signed with the Saints, Anthony Hargrove’s potential shift back to that spot and/or the selection of a “tweener”. Expect the Saints to address that spot in the 2011 NFL Draft’s first round.

Hopefully the Saints won’t be stuck on 32 as this is a deep top 100 and the Saints have a lot of UFA 2011 insurance policies to acquire.

In addition to linebacker and tight end, the Saints are going to be looking to pick up a running back (no move on signing a veteran at this position with good reason) and a safety (Usama Young is not the answer).

Pat Kirwin’s three round mock draft has the Saints picking in an ideal world: Weatherspoon falling to 32nd (it’s raining manna); running back Toby Gerhart of Stanford in round two; and Louisiana Tech defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith late in the third round. Maybe the last one will happen.

With the Brown trade, the Saints will hopefully have no less than 4 picks in the first three rounds and maybe 5.

As it currently stands the Saints have six picks and will be drafting 32nd (1); 64th (2); 95th (3); 130th (4- after the compensatory picks trickle in); 201st (6); and 239th (7). The Saints traded their 5th round pick to Philadelphia to grab punter Thomas Morestead.

Nothing like a slew of touchbacks and a historic onside kick in the Super Bowl to quiet the natives on that trade.

Here are my picks, with trades factored in:

Round One Sean Weatherspoon Linebacker Penn State (trade up)
Round Two Anthony Dixon Running back Mississippi State
Round Three Torrell Troup Defensive Tackle Central Florida (trade- JB)
Round Four D’Anthony Smith Defensive Tackle Louisiana Tech
Round Five Nate Byham Tight End Pittsburgh (trade- JB)
Round Six Nick Polk Safety Indiana
Round Seven Not Ryan Perrilloux Quarterback Anywhere but J’ville State*

Couldn’t resist but I think the athletically talented though judgmentally challenged Saint John the Baptist Parish native has done enough damage to Louisiana sports. The young man needs to go as far away northeast or northwest he can get. That said, the Saints will likely pick a quarterback to have someone in line if the “don’t think able” happens to number Nine.

Evaluating the 2010 Saints Schedule

The New Orleans Saints received a mixed bag on Tuesday when the NFL released the 2010 regular season schedule.

Though ranks the Saints schedule as being the 27th most difficult (or the sixth easiest based on 2010 opponents’ 2009 records), the Black and Gold will face five teams that made the playoffs, two winter games up north and all three teams that defeated them last season.

Below is The Onside Kick’s game rankings, toughest to easiest.

@ Dallas 11/25 Turkey Day just got really interesting for Saints fans as New Orleans will play in its first Thanksgiving game in franchise history (according to the Times Picayune’s Sports section). The Dallas Cowboys was the one team that dominated the Saints in 2009, with the Tampa Bay loss being a fluke and the season finale at Carolina being an exhibition game that counted for the record book. Not only will the Saints take on what is arguably one of the three best teams in the NFC, they’ll be doing it at the Palace in Dallas. Clearly the hardest game on the Saints’ schedule.

Minnesota 9/9 The Superdome will host the NFL regular season kickoff on Thursday evening as the Saints face the team they beat to make the Super Bowl, Minnesota Vikings. Adding to the irony of the evening is that the Vikings will witness the unveiling of the Saints “World Champion” banner. This is the match-up many fans understandably wanted, especially when considering the competitive nature of the NFC Championship game. The big question is whether Kiln, Mississippi native Brett Favre will make the short drive in to stand behind a center or sit in a luxury box. Another early question has to do with Saints defensive end Will Smith and Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams: will they finally serve their suspensions in connection with the StarCaps controversy? With or without the future Hall of Famer, the Vikings defense, receiving corps and running back Adrian Peterson are going to be a fierce test for the defending world champions. Will the Saints acquit themselves better in this NFL regular opener than their previous appearance, when they were soundly drubbed by the Indianapolis Colts in 2007?

@ Baltimore 12/19 If the scheduling fairies were kind to the Saints in 2009 for penciling the team in Buffalo in late September, they gave them a harpy of a December schedule for 2010. The Saints will face the Baltimore Ravens, who play in an outdoor stadium, in mid-December. The Saints have not had much luck in northern, cold weather games. In fact I believe they’ve only won one (the Christmas Eve game against the New York Giants in relatively mild late December weather) under head coach Sean Payton. Truth be told, the Ravens would be a tough opponent even inside the climate-controlled friendly confines of the Superdome. In fact, the black birds beat the Saints in their last meeting in 2006. The Ravens have added two new targets, Anquan Boldin and ex-Saints Donte Stallworth, for quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens also had a 1300+ yard rusher in 2009. A new and improved Ravens team combined with bad weather could result in a blue Christmas for Saints fans…any maybe an injury.

@ Atlanta Falcons 12/27 If the Saints have not locked up the NFC South, this could be the game that decides the division. Though the Dirty Birds didn’t have a repeat appearance in post-season in 2009, they did achieve a franchise first, having back-to-back winning seasons. The Falcons will have first-round defensive tackle Peria Jerry back, who went down early last season. Expect the Falcons to give the Black and Gold a run for their money in 2010.

@ Cincinnati 12/5 The other cold weather December game. The defending AFC North Champions beat the Saints in the Superdome during the 2006 season, though New Orleans will have a more formidable secondary going into their next contest. The wide receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson scorched the Saints secondary for 190 yards and three touchdowns, infamously playing possum after one of those TDs. Bad weather could handicap the Saints as it did in their three consecutive road losses to the Chicago Bears. The Bengals at this point of the season could be neck and neck with the Ravens (and maybe the Steelers) for the division, making this a must-win for Cincinnati. Saints probably won’t win this one pretty.

Pittsburgh 10/31 The owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers said his team wouldn’t be playing in the Big Easy to kickoff the NFL season and he was right. This may be Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisburger’s first game back from suspension; maybe he will have played a few games before then if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lets him off early; or maybe the two time Super Bowl quarterback won’t be sporting black and yellow anymore as word on the street is that he’s on the trading block. Either way, the Saints will be facing a discombobulated offense though a formidable defense. Playing this one on Halloween night in America’s most haunted city on national television is almost as good as being part of the NFL’s first game.

@ Arizona 10/10/10 What do Nostradamus, the Mayans calendar and Madame Zu-zu say about the Saints playing a game out west on this date? The Cards are rebuilding after the Saints defense won a “loser leaves town” match with Kurt Warner (just teasing old man. I took my hat off in respect when you limped past my section after that bad lick sent you to the locker room). Predictions: a lot of messy divorces will be born on this day and the Saints will have the same luck against Arizona they had when they met in the playoffs.

The rest: the Carolina Panthers (11/7 away, 10/3 home) beat the Saints scrubs to end last season. The rebuilding Cats are going to struggle against the Saints no matter where they play.

San Francisco (9/20) will host the Black and Gold in the second game of the season on Monday Night Football. Granted they’ll be playing at a venue (Candlestick Park- name to be changed later) where many a Black and Gold misery was experienced, but as they say in the Channel, “this ain’t ya mama’s Saints” and as they say in the Castro District, “this is not your domestic partner’s Niners”. Saints also have a ten day rest between the Vikings game and Frisco.

The Saints are going to have a slight edge when the host Atlanta in the Superdome on 9/26 though the Black and Gold will be coming off of MNF.

Tampa Bay got lucky in the penultimate game of the 2009 season. The Saints will be playing like they care when they visit the Bucs on 10/17. Pending on the divisional standings and homefield advantage, the 1/2/11 game at the Superdome might not matter and the Black and Gold faithful might get another opportunity to appreciate what quarterback Drew Brees means to the team (when he’s not playing).

New Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will enjoy seeing his former USC players running back Reggie Bush and defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis than his players. Coming off the Week 10 bye, Saints will have no excuse to drop this home game to another rebuilding team.

Politically leftist strongside linebacker Scott Fujita proved to be quite the capitalist when he signed a big contract with the perpetually rebuilding Cleveland Browns. Krishna bless him. His departure and deal allowed the Saints to sign unrestricted free agent defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, allowing the Saints front office to worry about other gaps in the 2010 NFL Draft. Fujita will feel the love when he trots back out on to the Dometurf on 10/24; the rest of his teammates not so much, though Cleveland might put up more of a fight than the Seahawks.

And finally there are the Saint Louis Rams. I mocked them last year and ended up holding my breath up in the rafters of Edward Jones Stadium until the last seconds ticked off the clock. The Rams will be picking 1st by virtue of being worst and are expected to select Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford, assuming he is not hurt, should have achieved some level as comfort as a big league signal caller by the 14th week (12/12) of the season. A healthy Saints squad should easily maul the Rams.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saints Sign Bucs DE Wilkerson

In a move that solidifies the Black and Gold's troublesome defensive line, the Saints signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, an unrestricted free agent, made 46 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 6 sacks in 2009. For those of you keeping track at home, that's 2 more tackles, 1 more forced fumble and a half-sack more than released defensive end Charles Grant, making the new addition a slight upgrade on the field and far less of a financial and public relations burden to the team.

As Wilkerson was an UFA, the Saints cannot sign any additional unrestricted free agents until another Saints UFA signs with another team. Thanks to the large contract linebacker Scott Fujita accepted from the Cleveland Browns, the Saints were able to make a competitive offer to Wilkerson despite the "Rule of Four".

However the "Rule of Four" restrictions do not prevent the Saints from signing a player that has been released from his team.

According to, Wilkerson agreed to a one year deal.

With Wilkerson and former Chicago Bears defensive end Alex Brown joining a team that already includes defensive ends Will Smith, Bobby McCray and Jeff Charleston, the team is unlikely to pursue a defensive end in the early rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Furthermore, Wilkerson's signing is likely the last of the team's significant free agency moves.

New Orleans Saints 2010 Schedule Released

Week One Minnesota Vikings Thursday, September 9th 7:30 PM NBC

Week Two @ San Francisco 49ers Monday, September 20th 7:30 PM ESPN

Week Three Atlanta Falcons Sunday, September 26th 12:00 PM Fox

Week Four Carolina Panthers Sunday, October 3rd 12:00 PM Fox

Week Five @ Arizona Cardinals Sunday, October 10th 3:00 PM Fox

Week Six @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, October 17th 12:00 PM Fox

Week Seven Cleveland Browns Sunday, October 24th 12:00 PM CBS

Week Eight Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, October 31st 7:20 PM NBC

Week Nine @ Carolina Panthers Sunday, November 7th 12:00 PM Fox

Week Ten BYE

Week Eleven Seattle Seahawks Sunday, November 21st 3:05 PM Fox

Week Twelve @ Dallas Cowboys Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) November 25th 3:00 PM Fox

Week Thirteen @ Cincinnati Bengals Sunday December 5th 12:00 PM Fox

Week Fourteen Saint Louis Rams Sunday, December 12th 3:05 PM Fox

Week Fifteen @ Baltimore Ravens Sunday, December 19th 12:00 PM Fox

Week Sixteen @ Atlanta Falcons, Monday, December 27th 7:30 PM ESPN

Week Seventeen Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, January 2nd 12:00 PM Fox

Information about WWL 870 AM's 2010 NFL Draft Fest

The link below provides some information about WWL 8780 AM's 2010 Draft Fest event, which will be held at the Esplanade Mall in Kenner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the local NFL draft event had been held in the soccer field across from the New Orleans Saints training facility on Airline Drive when it was a one-day Saturday afternoon event.

However, the NFL's decision to make more money from the draft by holding it during primetime and the poor lighting at the previous site made moving the local gathering to an indoor venue a necessity.

Though the draft does not start until 6:30 PM on Thursday, the local event starts with WWL's live Sportstalk broadcast from the Esplanade Mall in Kenner at 4:00 PM.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Onside Kick's Interview with Mike Detillier, Part II

This is the second installment of The Onside Kick’s interview with college football expert and NFL Draft guru Mike Detillier. Mr. Detillier is a contributor to WWL 870 AM’s Sportstalk program and writes an annual NFL Draft guide that is available at

TOK: Will the Saints pursue Louisiana Tech defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith?

MD: I think D’Anthony is a 3rd or 4th round pick. He needs to work with the weights some though he runs the field well and is disruptive. If the Saints haven’t already drafted a defensive tackle by the 2nd round then I think it’s possible.

TOK: Since Hurricane Katrina, the Saints Draft Party has been held across from the training facility in Metairie. This year it will be held at the Esplanade Mall in Kenner. Is this move related to the Super Bowl win?

MD: I think it has to do with liability more than anything else. The area where the draft event has been held is not well lighted. In fact, I remember a few years when it got dark early when attendees pulled their cars up to the tent to provide lighting. Especially with the draft becoming a primetime television event, moving it from the soccer field by the training camp only makes sense. Weather also won’t be a factor as it has been in the past (2008) when they needed to shut it down because water was getting inside of the tent.

TOK: Who would you say was the best 1st round draft pick by the Saints?

MD: Without question Willie Roaf (1993, 8th overall pick), the best offensive player to wear a black and gold uniform.

TOK: Who would you say was the best 2nd round draft pick by the Saints?

MD: The best defensive player to ever wear the black and gold uniform, Rickey Jackson (1981, 51st pick overall). Rickey’s going to the pro football hall of fame. Willie’s going to be there when he is eligible.

TOK: Who would you say was the worst 1st round selection by the Saints?

MD: It’s a toss-up between two players but I would have to go with punter Russell Erxleben (1979, 11th pick overall). They should have never picked a punter or a kicker that early. Erxleben was an OK punter but he couldn’t kick a field goal to save his life. Then I would have to say defensive tackle Jonathan Sullivan (2003, 6th pick overall). We got nothing out of him and the Saints had to trade up (17th and 18th overall picks) to get him.

TOK: Will an LSU player be selected in the 1st round?

MD: LSU will have its 1st round selection streak broken this year. An LSU player had been selected every year in the 1st round since 2004. However, that said nine or ten LSU players could be drafted this year, which would be a new record for the school. Either safety Chad Jones or wide receiver Brandon LaFell will likely be the first Tiger taken this year.

TOK: With the Saints having so many restricted free agents signing one-year deals that will likely become unrestricted free agents with a new collective bargaining agreement, will the Saints front office will be drafting towards addressing potential 2011 position vacancies as much as 2011 position needs?

MD: That’s an excellent point that doesn’t get brought up much. A player’s projected “signability” is always a big issue with the front office. A player’s age, contract and “signability” during draft time.

Special thanks to Mike Detillier for sharing his vast insight on the Saints organization and college football. Mr. Detillier will be offering his analysis on the NFL draft throughout the week on WWL 870 AM’s Sportstalk and from the station’s live broadcast at the Saints Draft Fest at the Esplanade Mall in Kenner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The event starts at 4:00 PM on Thursday. The NFL Draft begins at 6:30 PM on Thursday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vacation Planning Starts on Tuesday

Word around is that the NFL will release their 2010 regular season schedule on the evening of Tuesday, April 20th only two days before the first round of the NFL Draft. The schedule will be promulgated and over-analyzed on the NFL Network. Supposedly issues stemming from the Giants and Jets brand new super expensive roofless (and the commish wants an early February Super Bowl there!) stadt has contributed towards its tardy release.

Also mentioned is that divisional games would be shifted to the back of the season so teams would be less likely rest players (which isn't that common- only affects a few teams and then only one or two games at the most- and that's assuming one of them is running the table!) and create more exciting matchups (anyone remember that thrilling Panthers-Saints Who Dat Cares? Finale in Charlotte).

That said, it seems that the Saints will have faced their four regular season AFC opponents before Veterans Day.

NFL Draft 2010: Interview with Mike Detillier, Part I

WWL AM radio sports contributor and college football expert Mike Detillier is the E.F. Hutton of the NFL draft, when he speaks, football fans listen…or at a minimum turn up the volume on their radios.

The Louisiana guru of the NFL Draft is in hot demand in local and national media in the days approaching next Thursday’s first round, though Mr. Detillier found some time to spend with The Onside Kick.

TOK: Is it a given at this point that Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is going to be the first selection in the 2010 NFL Draft?

MD: The Saint Louis Rams (the team with the first overall pick) headquarters has been haunted by the ghosts of Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez. They can’t pass up on Bradford.

TOK: How does Bradford compare to last year’s first selection, Matthew Stafford?

MD: It’s a dead heat. Bradford is the more accurate passer but Stafford is more durable.

TOK: This is considered by many pro-football analysts to be the deepest draft in many years. Do you agree?

MD: This is the deepest Top 100 in my 26 years of doing this. There’s a lot of solid offensive linemen and defensive tackles in this year’s draft.

TOK: What do you think is the reason behind the wealth of talent in this year’s draft?

MD: A lot of juniors decided to come out. I think it’s the “Sam Bradford” effect in addition to the fact that a lot of these guys are hungry to play in the NFL.

TOK: As a follow up to this, do you believe the talk about a rookie salary cap motivated so many players to declare this year?

MD: No. If a salary cap for rookies happens, it won’t be until the 2012 or 2013 season.

TOK: What is your take on the new draft 3-day format? Will it help the New Orleans Saints or hurt?

MD: Since this is the first year, nobody really knows. Though it’s going to make the 2nd round feel like the 1st round. There’s been a lot of pre-draft trades in this off-season and I suspect a lot of late first round teams are going to get phone calls, with the quality quarterback and offensive linemen left on the board triggering the activity. The NFL conducted research on people’s viewing habits and they know that Thursday night is a big stay-at-home television night. That’s why the first round is kicking off on a Thursday and not a Friday.
TOK: Let’s turn to the Saints. What are the team’s biggest needs to be addressed in the draft?

MD: Outside linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle and tight end. Though people are in love with (tight end Jeremy) Shockey, he’s struggled with injuries during his time with the Saints and when he played in New York. His contact could be another issue for the team.

TOK: Have the Saints adequately addressed the defensive end position in free agency despite the loss of Charles Grant?

MD: The team took a big step by signing (former Chicago Bears defensive end) Alex Brown. I also think they could add (former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end) Jimmy Wilkerson. I’ve heard talks have gone well between the two.

TOK: Will the Saints go for the best player on the board or will target the best player available at the position they need to address the most.

MD: I’ve never been a fan of picking the best player available period. I think that logic is total (bs). If you did that you could end up with a bunch of first round offensive tackles. The draft is about getting what you need for your team.

TOK: Who do you think the Saints will select with the 32nd overall pick in the draft?

MD: Either an outside linebacker or a defensive tackle. I think Jerry Hughes of TCU. He’s a defensive end that’s built like an outside linebacker.

TOK: In light of the Pro Bowl season Houston Texans’ linebacker Brian Cushing had in 2009 and the departure of linebacker Scott Fujita from the New Orleans, do you think the Saints made a mistake passing on Cushing and picking cornerback Malcolm Jenkins in last year’s draft?

MD: Malcolm was the better pick. Granted, Cushing played a lot better than anyone expected. Cushing was nicked up a bit a college. I will say that Malcolm has gotten over he mental part of the game as a young player. It takes some time for players to do that. A good example is (former Louisiana State University and current New York Giants cornerback) Corey Webster. But knowing then what I know now, I would still pick Jenkins.

TOK: The Saints have a lot of depth in their award-winning offensive line and at wide receiver. Do you see the team dealing away one or two players to snag extra picks in the draft?

MD: The most likely to go is (tackle) Jammal Brown. You would want a young guy at left tackle.

TOK: What do you think the Saints could receive from Brown in light of his age and injuries?

MD: Second and fifth round draft picks would be a fair price for a proven veteran left tackle.

TOK: Will the Saints go after Ole Miss wide receiver Dexter McCluster?

MD: That’s an interesting question. If the Saints don’t pick him at the end of the second round they won’t see him at the end of the third round. If the Saints do go after a running back in the second or third round, it’ll be a bigger, power-runner like Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State).

TOK: What are the odds of Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon falling to the 32nd spot?

MD: Less than 20%. There are a lot of teams looking for a linebacker, but if he was still around it would be an easy choice.

TOK: Is your 2010 Draft Guide still available and where can people order it?

MD: I still have a few left. You can go to either or or call 985-532-6220.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Free Agency 2010: Saints Improve Their Defensive Line

The New Orleans Saints front office, after spending over a month focusing almost entirely on retaining players not named Darren Sharper, has finally made a noteworthy addition to the roster with the addition of former Chicago Bears defensive end Alex Brown.

The Bears released Brown so his signing with the Saints would not preclude them from signing an unrestricted free agent under the “Rule of Four”.

According to the Times Picayune, the deal was for two years.

Brown has played in every game since 2002 and his addition will help fill the gap left by the Saints release of defensive end Charles End, who wrestled with injuries, off-field controversy and inconsistent performance after signing a lucrative contract extension in 2007. Brown had six sacks and 36 tackles in 2009.

In addition to Brown, the Saints have three other defensive ends on contract: Will Smith, Jeff Charleston and Bobby McCray.

Smith, the starting right end, had a standout year in 2009, finishing the regular season with a career best 13 sacks though could possibly face a suspension in 2010 pending the resolution of the StarCaps matter that has dangled over the heads of a few players that had tested positive for the league-banned diuretic.

Brown, who like Smith plays on the right side, has stated his willingness to shift to the now vacant left side.

In what could result in another possible addition to the team’s defensive line, the Saints will host former Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson. Wilkerson played in 15 games in 2009, racking up 29 tackles and 6 sacks though is coming off surgery for a torn ACL he suffered against the Saints in the second to last game of the regular season.

Beyond the issue with his injury, Wilkerson presents another concern for the Saints front office.

As Williams is an unrestricted free agent, the Saints would be limited to offering him no more money in his first year than what ex-Saints linebacker Scott Fujita received from the Cleveland Browns. Also, if the Saints signed Williams they would not be able to sign another UFA until another one of their UFAs signs with another team.

With the NFL Draft approaching next week, the acquisition of a second new defensive end could give the Saints organization freedom to pursue a desired player over simply going with the best player available at a position that needs to be addressed.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mike Detillier's 2010 Draft Guide Released

Louisiana’s leading NFL Draft guru and college football analyst Mike Detillier has released the 2010 installment of his annual NFL Guide.

Detillier is one of the most passionate observers of the game and he spends months gathering information and conducting meticulous research for his draft guides.

Detillier’s pre-draft commentary is a staple of WWL AM’s sports programs and you can now get the player data you need for your draft binder by going to

Sunday, April 4, 2010

And for Whatever This Is Worth: Saints' preseason opponents announced

The New Orleans Saints’ pre-season opponents have been announced.

The Black and Gold’s scrubs will open up exhibition play in Foxborough to face the New England Patriots’ scrubs around the second weekend of August.

The Saints then come back to New Orleans to face the Houston Texans in pre-season action around the third weekend in August, making the third straight year the regional neighbors will play an exhibition game. Last year’s pre-season game against the Texans came at a cost as the Saints lost tight end Billy Miller for the season. It seems this is going to be a longstanding tradition between the two franchises- hardly approaching LSU-Arkansas “boot trophy” status as at least the latter game counts for something.

In the one pre-season game that is set in stone, Saints fans will finally get to see the San Diego Chargers play in the Superdome for the first time since September 7, 1997. The two teams were supposed to play in the Superdome in 2008 but then the NFL brass decided to move that one to Wembley Stadium in London. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton thought about as much as playing in the UK as the league’s new playoff overtime rule.

According to the team website, the Saints-Chargers game is slated for Friday, August 27th at 7 PM and will be broadcast nationally on CBS. This could be the one game that the Superdome will be a little bit more than half-full.

The Saints close out pre-season on the road against the Tennessee Titans around Labor Day. Louisiana State Troopers certified in the fine art of snipping should be dispatched to this venue to ensure that the Titans’ mascot doesn’t run over another Saints quarterback. As the Saints will open the regular season the next Thursday evening, it’s likely that the game will be played on Thursday, September 2nd so as not to give the defending World Champs a short week to prepare for the regular season opener.

This season ticket holder has strong opinions on preseason (it’s a necessary evil but it shouldn’t be necessary for me to buy those damned tickets) and will watch them (from either home or Sammy’s Grill in Baton Rouge) for two reasons: 1) to see if anyone gets hurt and 2) to see what “surprise” player will emerge to practice squad-inactive roster bubble status.

I’ll post the solid times when they are announced.

As for the start of REAL season play, we know the Saints will kick off the season on Thursday, September 9th in the Superdome (SuperBowl banner unveiling will make it one of those “special games” for fans and StubHub).

While the Saints’ opponent has yet to be named, it’s likely that they will face either the Minnesota Vikings or Atlanta Falcons.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were an early favorite as they are expected to contend in the AFC and their status as the Super Bowl XLIII Champions but Steelers President Art Rooney II dismissed the possibility as it would conflict with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ schedule.

Though the teams play in different stadiums, as opposed to the old days when the two teams shared the concrete donut known as Three Rivers Stadium, the two professional teams try to avoid competing with each other as the Steelers and Pirates home fields (Heinz Field and PNC Park respectively) are not far away from each other and share a parking lot.

With Pittsburgh out, network rating interests and quality control will rule out Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Carolina, Saint Louis and Seattle from having the honor of being fed to the lions (small “L”) before a national television audience.

The Saints will either take on their longtime rivals and main threat for repeating for the top spot in the NFC South or the very team the Black and Gold beat in the NFC Championship game, which subsequently led to the Saints winning the Lombardi Trophy and the NFL changing their playoff rules.

My take: the decision is in Brett Favre’s hands. In other words, we might not have an answer until mid-August.