Sunday, April 24, 2011

2011 New Orleans Saints Draft Preview: The Picks

Due to trades made in 2009 and 2010, the Black and Gold enter the 2011 NFL Draft without their full complement of selections, though they will have better access to quality college players than last year when their victory in Super Bowl XLIV had the Saints picking dead last in the first round.

Thanks to their early demise in the last season’s playoffs, the Saints will have the 24th pick in the first round, picking just ahead of the team that facilitated their ignominious exit, the Seattle Seahawks.

In addition to the 24th pick in the first round, the Saints will have the 56th overall selection in the second round, the 72nd and 88th overall picks during the third round and the 226th and 243rd overall selections in the seventh and final round.

The relatively early selection in round three, eighth in the actual round, stems from the Jammal Brown trade the Saints made with the Washington Redskins. The Saints received the Redskins’ third round pick in exchange for the Pro Bowl tackle and the Black and Gold’s fifth round selection (155th) in this draft.

The Saints surrendered their fourth round pick (121st overall) to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a trade for the cats’ 5th round selection (158th overall) in last year’s draft. The Saints used that pick to select center Matt Tennant, who the front office sees as a solid contributor in the near future.

The Saints organization is finally paying the tab to the New England Patriots in a deal that was consummated in 2009 when the Pats sent over reserve tight end David Thomas for New Orleans’ sixth round (189th overall) pick in the 2011 draft.

Considering Thomas’s contributions to the team as both tight end and as a backup fullback after starting fullback Heath Evans went down with a season ending injury against the Miami Dolphins in the midst of the team’s Super Bowl run in 2009, his acquisition for a 6th round pick is one of Saints general manager Mickey Loomis’s best swaps in terms of overall value.

The Saints held on to their original seventh round selection in this year’s draft and was awarded an extra seventh round pick as compensation for the loss of outside linebacker Scott Fujita as a free agent to the Cleveland Browns in 2010 offseason.

As the league determined he was not replaced on the roster by a free agent of an equal or greater value, which is calculated through a complicated formula, the Saints were eligible to receive the bonus pick, which cannot be dealt to another team. The Saints final pick is the 12th to last selection in the draft.

The Onside Kick will be updated daily during draft week. Stay posted for a two part interview with NFL Draft expert and college football analyst Mike Detillier (whose guide is still available at and other information related to the draft.

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