College football analyst, NFL Draft guru and WWL 870 AM contributor Mike Detillier offers his take on the Saints' NFC South rivals' drafts, ex-LSU player and Saints draftee Al Woods's future and other matters related to the Black and Gold.
TOK: How would you rate the Saints’ NFC South competition’s drafts?
MD: I like what I saw from Tampa Bay, but they also had the most holes to fill. Gerald McCoy and Brian Price are two really good young DT’s. The Bucs have the right young quarterback in Josh Freeman and now they have added Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams to the lineup at wide receivers. Both are big, real physical guys after the catch. They also got some help late in the draft for their special teams. That special teams was good last season, but they lost a ton of those players in free agency. I would give them an A.
In Carolina Jimmy Clausen will compete for a starting spot as a rookie with Matt Moore. Jimmy has talent, but I want to see if he is a real leader on and off the field. I like Tony Pike also, the strong-armed QB. from Cincinnati. Brandon Lafell is a good fit for the Panthers. He is a big, real physical end and if he can concentrate better he has a chance to contribute quickly. Armanti Edwards is a project player at wide receiver, but he is real athletic. I also really like OLB. Eric Norwood from South Carolina and if Ole Miss’ Greg Hardy is healthy he is a really good pass rusher, but he has been bothered by the foot injuries. But they had no first round pick because they dealt that off to select Everette Brown last season. He is OK, but he isn’t close to being the type player Julius Peppers was for them.
The thing that disturbs you about Carolina is that they have basically done nothing in the free agency market the last two seasons and I like John Fox a lot, but this seems to be the end of the road for him there. Much like Jim Mora’s last seasons in New Orleans. I would give them a B-.
Atlanta really helped themselves out picking up Dunta Robinson from Houston. He didn’t look quite right last season, but that was no surprise after coming off of a major knee injury, but if he is healthy he is a good cover guy.
Sean Weatherspoon will start Day 1 for them at outside linebacker. He is a terrific player. DT. Corey Peters is a solid rotation player for them. Joe Hawley is their center for the future and I like Mike Johnson, the offensive guard from Alabama.
What they needed more of was depth in the secondary and another top pass rusher. I give them a C, but we all know that they are the main competition for the Saints in 2010 in the division and their schedule is pretty favorable.
I really like Matt Ryan. I hate to say it because he plays for the Dirty Birds, but he is one of the two best young quarterbacks in the game right now. Ryan and Mark Sanchez from the Jets. Sanchez has a really good defense to back him up, I can’t say that right now about Ryan.
TOK: Which player drafted do you think the fans will see on the field more?
MD: This is close, but it will be either CB. Patrick Robinson in the nickel sets and that will probably be about 40% of the time and TE. Jimmy Graham.
Graham is some kind of athlete and once he starts to get it football wise he will really be something in the redzone early on.
TOK: Are TE Billy Miller’s days with the team are over now that they drafted TE Jimmy Graham?
MD: I know Drew Brees really likes him, so I wouldn’t rule that out. Remember that this position has been riddled with injuries the last couple of seasons, so I wouldn’t rule out his return, if an injury happens.
TOK: Were you surprised with the selection of an offensive lineman with the second round pick?
MD: Totally, but it was a value pick. Brown is a really good athlete, he excels in protecting the QB., and once he physically gets stronger, especially in the upper-body, he will compete for a starting spot at left tackle.
That won’t be this season, but it will happen. Brown was my 31st best player and the Saints got him at 64. I had a NFL director of player personnel chief tell me just yesterday that he thought that Brown would be a Jason Peters-Philadelphia Eagles type starting left tackle in the league.
TOK: Can one assume that OT Jammal Brown will be traded sooner than later?
MD: I have always felt as though Jammal Brown will be traded before the training camp sessions start. Get some value, trade-wise, right before training camp starts. There are a few teams that will have plenty of interest in Jammal, if he is healthy.
I’d like to also talk a little about Jahri Evans. He is the best in the business right now. Jahri is a terrific run blocker and a superb pass protector. The baton was passed from Alan Faneca and Steve Hutchinson to him last season on the field and now it is passes in the getting paid category also.
He is also a great lockerroom guy. Every year in my draft book I quiz about 12 to 13 NFL scouts, director of player personnel people and a couple of assistant coaches also and they felt overwhelming that he was the best offensive guard in the business. He actually finished in the poll as the 35th best overall football player in the NFL.
The comments about him were all about how he was the best today at the guard spot, but there were a large number of those comments made about the other guard on this team, Carl Nicks. I think he is a Pro Bowl caliber player also. This is the best guard tandem in pro football, no question about it.
TOK: The Saints selected Al Woods and many felt he is a project player and that he wasn’t well coached at LSU. Your comments?
MD: He is a project player, no question. Al is a nice guy, really a nice guy off the field. That may be part of the problem also. He is not the nastiest guy on the field. He plays too clean, a little too high off the snap and he just doesn’t have that mean streak in him as a player.
He has everything you want in a defensive tackle from a size, strength, power, and movement skill standpoint, but he lacks great football instincts and he doesn’t play with a good low center of gravity. He is a little slow to react to what is breaking down in front of him. That hesitation is the difference between being a great player and an ordinary guy in this business.
He was not well coached until his senior season at LSU and that is partially the problem, but I know that won’t be the case in New Orleans with Bill Johnson. Bill is one of the best in the business and if anyone can get it out of him it is Johnson.
Al is a good guy, but I think he really lacks great instincts to be a really terrific NFL player. He may end up being a rotation guy, but it is rare to find someone who wasn’t really productive at the college level and then all of a sudden be a top-flight NFL player.
TOK: Is that the difference between this staff and Jim Haslett’s staff, the way they coach?
MD: Coaching is one thing, teaching is another. The difference is that Sean Payton has assembled a really good group of teachers. Some guys can draw up all these plays and schemes on paper, but they can’t get it to work on the field.
This staff teaches constantly. That is the big difference. There is a big difference between coaching players and teaching players and this staff’s real strength is their ability to teach players and get the very most out of them. That really is the “X” factor in college and pro football today.
TOK: Will quarterback Sean Canfield spend most of the 2010 season on the roster or the practice squad?
MD: He looks like a practice squad guy to me. He is very efficient throwing the short stuff, but I want to see him throw the deep out patterns and the longer medium range throws.
Sean didn’t make those type throws in college. I spoke to Mike Riley about him and he thinks a lot of him, but he never really seemed to be able to effectively throw the longer stuff once he suffered the shoulder injury. Now, it has been a few years since the major shoulder surgery and we will be able to see if he has that arm to get the ball out deeper.
He is going to have a tough time beating out Chase Daniel. This team needs a solid veteran quarterback for insurance, just in case something happens to Drew.