Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Saints Draft 2012; Black & Gold Digs Deep for the Future

I am convinced that there are more drama queens in sports journalism than there are in the soap opera circuit.

Do these commentators feel a need to be obnoxiously hyperbolic in their evaluations?

Their Jim Rome aping reaches a climax during the NFL draft, where men who last left it all on the P.E. gym floor engage in histrionics about those drafted and the franchises that picked them.

And I’m not engaging in this seemingly oxymoronic rant just because sports writers/bloggers/talking heads all panned the New Orleans Saints’ draft.

Though this is as good of a time as any to call these clowns out for what they are: Joan Rivers jock-wannabes.

And their collective grade on the Saints’ 2012 draft ranged from a relatively charitable C- to an F. 

I would love to know what these geniuses thought of the Jonathan Sullivan pick from 2003.

It goes without saying that I don’t concur with their evaluations.

Until King Roger I sees fit to smite the remaining members of the Saints’ defense (the delay being as absurd as the NFL’s overreaction to the so-called “bountygate”), the Saints didn’t really have too many gaping holes to plug.

The biggest was the hiring of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to replace the tarnished Gregg Williams, whose last contribution to the team was abandoning it before he would have been exiled from the league.

I consider Spags an upgrade from the undisciplined “Double G”, whose ego has cost the team dearly in the form of bad play calls and franchise crippling scandal. 

Beyond that, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis made selections with more an eye on the future than on the 2012 season while enduring a public relations nightmare stemming from the bounties and an alleged eavesdropping system truly worthy of the suffix “gate’ if true. 

If not true, then I hope Loomis and the organization take ESPN to the cleaners for defamation.

The team’s first selection of the draft was third round pick Akiem Hicks, a defensive tackle that was recruited by LSU but ended up at the University of Regina.  The Saints front office and scouting department must have seen something they like about the 6’5”, 318 lb defensive lineman.

And he could not possibly be a worse selection than Sullivan, whom I consider to be the biggest Black & Gold draft bust of all time.  Even if Hicks doesn’t pan out, he’ll have cost the team less in opportunity cost and cash than the aforementioned disaster.

And it’s hard to argue with an outfit that plucked Marques Colston from Hofstra, Jahri Evans from Bloomsburg and Jermon Bushrod from Towson.

Actually a pick from the University of Georgia scares me far more than someone from a small school. 

If Hicks works out, I’ll finally forgive him for trading two first rounders to snag “he who shall not be named ever again” in my column.

I also like the Nick Toon pick.

The big receiver from Wisconsin has a pro-football pedigree and will give the team its first real competition for a rare open receiver slot in some time. 

Toon will have to compete with Adrian Arrington (who has seen sparing regular season action since being drafted late in 2008) and 2011 pre-season standout Joe Morgan to fill a roster spot that was vacated when free agent Robert Meachem left for greener financial pastures in San Diego.

The wide-receiver battle will be front and center in the exhibition games.

The balance of the draft will likely need time to emerge as on-field contributors. 

Safety Corey White of Samford could be a rare franchise beneficiary of the Commish’s vengeance. 

If strong safety Roman Harper gets nailed with a lengthy suspension, White will have an opportunity to demonstrate that his 5th round selection was a worthwhile crapshoot.

Guard Andrew Tiller of Syracuse and Tackle Marcel Jones of Nebraska could be the low rounders that challenge the thus-far disappointing Charles Brown (2010 second round selection) for a place on the team.

Then again, the Saints’ 6th and 7th round picks could be relegated to camp body/practice squad duty.

Rather than hyperventilate over Loomis’s picks, critics should have faith in an executive who has often found better value below the second round mark than he has above.

Besides, Loomis’s legacy will have more to do with his ability to ensure that the Saints are the final destination in Drew Brees’s playing career than what he did in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft.

That said, I thought the Saints soon-to-be suspended general manager drafted responsibly and merits no worse than a B-.