Thursday, April 28, 2011

Falcons Pull a Ditka While the Saints Pull a Rabbit

A tip of my fleur-de-lis cap to NFL Draft expert Mike Detillier.

Prior to the Carolina Panther’s first overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, Detillier shared that the Atlanta Falcons were aggressively pursuing a major move to scoop up one of the top two wide receivers in the draft, with the likely trading partner being the Cincinnati Bengals.

Detillier was off only by two picks as the Falcons unloaded their first round draft pick (27th overall), second round draft pick (59th overall) and fourth round draft pick (123rd overall) in the 2011 draft plus their first and fourth round picks in the 2012 draft to land Alabama wide receive Julio Jones.

While it wasn’t exactly to the scale of the infamous Ricky Williams trade that Saints coach Mike Ditka recklessly engineered in 1999, though it’s almost on par. The Falcons have sacrificed a good part of their future on a single player, which as Saints fans know is a scary prospect. The Jones deal certainly adds greater appreciation for the Saints 7th round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft.

With the 24th overall selection the Saints front office ate up over eight minutes of the draft clock before picking defensive end Cameron Jordan of California, who wasn’t expected to remain on the draft board by the time New Orleans made its choice.

The addition of Jordan should bolster the Black and Gold’s pass rush and his presence will be especially needed when starting defensive end Will Smith finally serves his four game suspension next season stemming from the Star Caps case that began in 2008.

Jordan, considered one of the top three defensive ends in this year’s draft, was conventional pick by the Saints and the fans attending WWL Am radio’s Draft Fest, the unofficial viewing party for the Black and Gold faithful, warmly received the news of his selection.

Minutes later the reaction of Saints fans would be off the charts, as General Manager Mickey Loomis executed one of the boldest draft maneuvers in his career with the team.

The New England Patriots were supposed to make the 28th selection in the draft but the Saints ended up with pick after shipping their 2nd round pick (56th overall) and 1st round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. And with that selection, the Saints made a move that will have major inclinations for #25.

Like Jordan, Alabama running back Mark Ingram wasn’t supposed to be on the board when the Saints picked though the stout halfback certainly was on the minds of Saints fans and apparently the Saints front office as well.

With the return of Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, the addition of Ingram on the roster will go a long way towards reestablishing a ground game that paid huge dividends in 2009 yet faltered in 2010 in no small part due to injuries and with no small consequences.

The odd man out is likely- scratch that- certainly Reggie Bush. In fact, #25 has said as much on his Facebook page, stating simply “it’s been fun New Orleans”.

Loomis should be credited with having the vision and guts to swing such a big deal at a relatively fair price. The team addressed their two biggest needs in one draft day, developing a pass rush and bringing back a rushing attack.

While the actual value of these gambits will not be ascertained until the players take the field, on paper they look good.

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