Ask Mike – January 19, 2008 (1 Viewer)

Dan in Lafayette

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Lafayette, LA

Ask Mike – January 19, 2008

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From: Vega$$aint

Hey Mike, where do you see Martellus Bennett being drafted? I think he Is the top tight end in the draft talent-wise.


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Eric, talent wise you might be correct, but I do believe that USC’s Fred Davis will get picked ahead of him. Bennett has excellent eye-hand coordination. He played basketball at A&M as a freshman and sophomore, has very long arms, and huge hands to catch the ball. He has bettered his in-line blocking skills, but he still needs work in this area and he needs to run with a lower base as a route runner. The guy is a player Eric, and he could well be the 2nd tight end off the board with the type workouts I think he will deliver. I project him as a middle to late 2nd round pick right now.

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From: Marlboro Man


I really enjoyed reading your article on “Building Teams Through the NFL Draft” and I agree that it's uncanny how New England has been able to draft players that are for the lack of a better word, perfect, for their scheme.

My questions are: What are the common denominators of the players that New England selects in the draft and how can that be applied to the Saints organization?


Marlboro Man

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Marlboro Man, it is all about evaluation. The key for any draft is to find players that fit what you do. The same can be said for free agency. Believe me it’s a lot harder to do than say. The Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Jaguars, Packers, Cowboys and N.Y. Giants have done a better job than most understanding that “fit” feature and to be honest that all boils down to talent evaluation. And every one of those clubs have drafted very well over the past four to five years.

That comes down to getting the right info on draft choices and making sure the head coach is fully informed about his strengths and weaknesses.

Yes, the Patriots have used the trade market and trades, but they were able to do so because they drafted very well for a long number of years. What the Pats have now is what the S.F. 49ers had in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when Bill Walsh ran the draft and orchestrated trades. Jimmy Johnson did the same in Dallas in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It’s funny that the scouting departments stayed the same after they left, but the results were different. Like most teams Sean Payton has a huge impact on who this team drafts and signs as free agents.

Don’t believe anything else on that issue.

Football intelligence and a team-oriented concept seem to be the common thread in the intangible part of the game. But again it came down to the ability to translate their abilities to what a team runs offensively, defensively or on special teams.

Saints scouts give heavy input, but right now Sean Payton and the members of his staff will have plenty to say either good or bad on how well this team picks up free agents, make trades and drafts.

For Peyton he needs to find the right formula to get the “fit” players for his scheme and he also needs to put a greater effort on shoring up his defensive talent.

Take care.

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From: Billy Boy


Hey Mike,

First I love your work and I am glad you are getting so much attention from the national media. It goes to show how much work and talent you have in this field.

Does the 30 million the Saints have include the draft money?

Also I heard you say on ESPN Radio a couple of nights ago you would love the Saints to pick USC DT Sedrick Ellis, if he were available. Is he worth the 10th overall selection?

I talked to you and Bobby at one of the “Saints on the Bayou” television shows and you started to talk about the Saints maybe signing WR Ernest Wilford from Jacksonville. Any comments?

Could you give us your top 14 right now for the draft?

If you could pick one coach and one player to start a NFL team with today from scratch who would they be?

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Thanks Billy, I appreciate the kind words…

On the draft question the rookie salary cap money will come out of the $30 million. Yes, the Saints are in good shape cap-wise, but when you start to chip-away at the 30-million due to the 2008 draft pool, trying to re-sign Marques Colston and Will Smith and also re-sign players like Jeff Faine, Billy Miller, Eric Johnson, Brian Young, David Patten, and Aaron Stecker, you can see that the whole spot of 30 million will not be around and it may be closer to the 15 to 18 mark, which is still very good.

Some people don’t understand this and are upset when you say that the team has 30 million to start, but you also have the expenses of the draft and keeping key players on the squad, and they won’t have the full 30 million to spend. I always believe that if you want a player bad enough, you can make cap room for him. I have seen this too many times by people who are pressed right up against the cap.

There is no question that Sedrick Ellis is well worthy of the 10th overall pick in Round 1. Ellis is a defensive force in the middle, very disruptive and rarely stays blocked. It’s his initial step off the snap that is really something to watch. He is super quick and an explosive pass rusher from the middle. I just don’t know if he will still be around at 10. But this team needs a quality inside performer to help push the pocket and Ellis would be a great pick-up.

Yes, I remember the conversation and I really believe that this team needs a quality starting-type WR to compliment Marques Colston. Now, Ernest Wilford has the skills to be a real solid #2 receiver. He has great size, good hands and he knows how to work the tough inside routes. Wilford does not have great foot speed, but he is a huge target, sure-handed and he is tough to bring down one-on-one. Ernest would be a good fit for the Saints. The Saints scouting department has some deep Jacksonville roots and I certainly would make a play for him in free agency.

Top 14 Players are:

1. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
3. Jake Long, OT, Michigan
4. Chris Long, DE, Virginia
5. Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
6. Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
7. DeSean Jackson, WR/KR, California
8. Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
9. Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
10. Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
11. Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
12. Kenny Phillips, S, Miami (Fla.)
13. Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
14. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon

Billy… the coach is easy, Bill Belichick. He is the best coach in the business today. A player to start from the ground up is a little more difficult because I understand what will happen the first couple of years in the league. I would probably pick New England’s Tom Brady. Great player, still young enough to play after we build and he knows what it takes to win.

I will say though that San Diego Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman would be very inviting also. He is very young, very disruptive and he is a super dominant player.

Good questions.

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Hey Mike,

Quick question here. I think that Marcus Trufant will be re-signed by Seattle and that the Asante Samuel asking price will be more than Saints are willing to offer. What would you think about the Saints signing Drayton Florence and Randall Gay in FA? I think by doing this the Saints would give them two solid CB at a decent price. After doing this I think the Saints should try to make a trade with the Jets for Vilma.



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Vincent, I agree with you that Trufant will get re-signed by the Seahawks and the price tag for Samuel will be huge to say the least. The teams will be lined up to sign him and his deal will be a record-breaker for cornerbacks.

I really like the upside of Drayton Florence. He has finally started to put the pieces together as a cover man in the NFL and that certainly is understandable because he was making the transition from playing college ball at Tuskegee. He has good size, quick feet and he has good anticipation skills. Drayton is much more effective in a man-to-man scheme than in zone coverages. He seems much more comfortable with the tight man coverage than in zone schemes. At times he seems a bit confused on where he should be in zone sets. I think he would be a good fit for the Saints and he certainly caught everyone’s eye with his play against the Colts.

But believe me the Saints may not be the only team with this sort of game plan to upgrade their cornerback position.

Randall Gay is a lot like Jason Craft. He is a good nickel/dime defensive back and he is a solid positional player, but he is not a starter in the NFL fulltime.

I am a big Jonathan Vilma fan and hopefully he will heal quickly. Vilma is athletic, very intelligent, rarely out of position and he is a defensive playmaker, but because of his lack of great size you need those big bodies at DT to keep him clean and let him flow to the ball. If he has room to run, he is very effective. If he has to constantly fight off blockers, his presence is diminished.

It will be interesting to see if the Jets would deal him off because he really doesn’t fit what Eric Mangini likes in a 3-4 inside linebacker. His health would have to be looked at closely, but I know the Saints know an awful lot about him and WR coach Curtis Johnson recruited him to Miami (Fla.). If the price is right and he is healthy I would certainly approve of that sort of deal. He is a high character performer, team oriented and one hell of a football player, if he is healthy.

Take care.

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