The Onside Kick is once again happy to spend some time with WWL AM radio’s college football expert Mike Detillier, author of one of the most comprehensive NFL draft guides in the country.
In this installment, Mr. Detillier shares some thoughts about last year’s draft, what went wrong with LSU’s Al Woods, a favorite Buddy D anecdote and a few other stories. The second part of the interview, focused on the 2011 NFL Draft, will be posted on Wednesday.
TOK: Would you rate Patrick Robinson, the team’s number one pick in 2010, a bust player?
MD: I think it is too early for that, but he struggled with the technical part of the game and he has always been a bit of a guesser. He has excellent physical tools, but he struggled with the technical part of the game and his footwork to turn and run with receivers was sloppy.
TOK: That is almost exactly what you wrote about him in your 2010 draft report and was that the reason you didn’t rate him a first round choice?
MD: That is the main reason. He was very inconsistent at Florida State and while he had the talent of a first round pick he didn’t play up to that level from week to week. He needs to become a more disciplined player, no doubt, and Gregg Williams really rode him hard last season in the training camp period and throughout the season when he was healthy.
TOK: Last draft day you thought the Saints gambled big on a player that was not a
productive college player in Al Woods. Why didn’t he pan out?
MD: I personally really liked Al and he is a very likable young man, but he lacks great football instincts and he is slow to react to what is breaking down in front of him. In high school he was bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else he played against and he dominated. That was not the case at LSU and with the Saints. He was built like someone carved him out of stone, but he just couldn’t get that body to react to what was happening quickly. It wasn’t because of effort. He tried hard. Al was just not a very instinctive football player.
TOK: Your draft guide is 200 pages cover to cover, includes bios of hundreds of players, has the 4 round projections-you did in mid-March, a great section on the top current players in the league, fantasy football and etc. People that work with you say that you spend countless hours going over film, breaking down film, getting info from various college sources and you get a constant barrage of calls from players, coaches, people in the front office of NFL teams and such. How much time do you spend with the report?
MD: Too much. I guess that would be the best reply, but it is something I truly love to do. You can’t do this halfway, you have to give the full commitment. On a holiday I won’t do anything, but I would guess 340 days a year, and I can’t count the hours.
TOK: Are you also involved with some college recruiting services looking over and
evaluating talent for some also?
MD: Yes. It gives me a heads-up on the top talent heading into the college football world and eats up any free time I have in the spring and summer. It does keep me in touch constantly with players, coaches and high school coaches on the top talents they have and who they play.
TOK: I’d like to go back to Iron Mike’s “Reign of Error” with the Saints. Who talked Mike Ditka into selecting Chris Naeole in the 1st round?
MD: Dick Stanfel was the chief influence on that pick. Stanfel came out of retirement to coach the offensive line for the Saints under Ditka and he loved Chris and he talked Mike into drafting him in Round 1.
TOK: When was the first time you heard Buddy D say Donte Stallpepper?
MD: The first time was at a lunch with Buddy, Randy Mueller and I on the Wednesday before the draft. We were talking about the upcoming draft and Randy told me he didn’t think Stallworth would be there when they picked and he had saw my draft report where I projected Donte to New Orleans.
During the conversation Buddy said Stallpepper twice and Randy and I looked at one another and I jut knew he would repeat it again. Sure enough. The Saints picked him and he blurted it out. When I told him about his comment was, “ No way I could have said that”, and then he turned back said “Maybe I did say it.”
TOK: Your call of the Saints pick of Ricky Williams was memorable, but you, Buddy D. and everyone else never thought the deal would get done right?
MD: That is right-on correct. General manager Bill Kuharich told me the day before the draft that no team was biting on any move and that they had basically given up on the deal to move up to acquire Ricky and they were going to draft UCLA quarterback Cade McNown.
The morning of the draft Terry O’Neil, the Saints salary cap man for the Saints, told me that he was 99% sure that no deal would get done and he was thrilled that it wasn’t going to happen. He actually stood up to Mike and voted against the deal.
Two Saint assistant coaches before we started Draft Fest told us no deal would happen for Williams and they were happy about it. When Buddy asked them if they rejected Williams in front of Mike Ditka the response was the same. “No way we are saying anything bad about Ricky in front of Ditka. We like our jobs.”
We had numerous national reporters calling us to see whom the Saints would draft because the Williams deal was dead.
Even Ricky Williams told us the next day that he didn’t think he would be in New Orleans. He actually thought either the Indianapolis Colts were going to pick him or that the Cleveland Browns were going to try and trade back into the top-5 to get him.
With all that we both strongly felt the deal to acquire Williams was not going to happen. The crowd that day went wild when the announcement came down. There actually were people crying tears of joy about that pick. I have never seen anything like it, even the Reggie Bush pick didn’t match that moment.
TOK: You had the Saints picking Malcolm Jenkins in your mock 1st round of the book
two years ago and never wavered, but who would they have selected had Jenkins been
picked? Would it have been Clay Matthews?
MD: No, it would not have been Matthews, but his USC teammate OLB Brian Cushing- who the Texans took right after the Saints selected Jenkins. The Saints liked Matthews, but they liked Cushing more.
TOK: With the draft coming up this weekend, can fans still order a copy of the report?
MD: Yes, they can log on to MikeDetillier.com and we can get them a copy out quickly.