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- Aug 1, 1997
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- Lafayette, LA
Ask Mike – January 31, 2008
I am wondering if you can see the Saints moving up or down in the draft in an effort to get a player like Sedrick Ellis or to obtain more picks?
Conrad, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do this, especially for someone like Ellis. Now, we will have a better idea about what needs are still on the board after free agency, but Ellis would be a special athlete to shoot up for. It would fill a huge need, the DL-coach is very familiar with him and he has shown he is a very disruptive force as both a pass rusher and run stopper. The problem is everyone has seen that now.
In this draft it might be a little harder to move down. Most teams feel as though there are about 8 real gold chip performers and then there are about 8 to 10 players with almost the same rankings that follow. That is also reflected in how my board is today. If that continues then just about everyone might want to move back. I believe most teams will try and get in on that top 8, than someone targeting in the 12 to 13 range in Round 1. It’s a great idea to move down, but the big question mark becomes with whom
Hi Mike! I always look forward to reading your articles and want to thank you for your insight. I have a few questions for you:
1. Any word on Mike McKenzie and how his rehab is going? Last we heard, they weren't sure when/if he'd be ready for the 08' season. With him potentially out or not at 100% and the FA CB's being slim to none for our schemes, who would be the best fit through the draft and what rounds could we get the best value.
2. Can Faneca from the Steelers be considered a "Must Target" FA for the Saints? Word is, he could definitely improve our running game and give our two pics from last year (Alleman and Bushrod) another year to be groomed. Your thoughts on Faneca.
3. Do you see anyway that Deuce would restructure if he were not able to carry a full load next season? I think it is important to keep him, but also realize the cap hit would be crazy to cut and his trade value is not great. Your thoughts on his future??
Thanks and keep up the great work. I look forward to your draft guide coming out soon!!
1. It is still too early to determine just how well Mike McKenzie’s progress is to return for 2008. I have heard that there is more optimism now that he could return than when the injury occurred, but let’s see how well he can rehab the knee. I always believe that with a knee injury a lot of this has to do with the mental stage of it. You are basically working alone and you are putting in a lot of hours. It is just as much of a mental strain than a physical one. And just how much quickness and speed is lost with the injury. We wont’ know that until the summer training camp, but I have a feeling Mike will be back for the 08 season.
In my opinion, the 2nd and 3rd rounds are where I think you are going to see the run on cornerbacks. There will be a handful of cornerbacks that could go in Round 1. Mike Jenkins, Leodis McKelvin, Reggie Smith and now Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have to be considered in that group in Round 1. The run will be in Rounds 2 and 3 on cornerbacks.
2. Craig, Alan lives right up the road from me in Thibodaux. He would be a great pickup, but this is his last big money deal for the NFL. I would love to see him end up in New Orleans, but it has to be the right deal. For more than a year now it has been speculated that Faneca would end up in Arizona with his former Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and old O-line coach Russ Grimm in Arizona. If the money is right, Arizona is where I think he will end up.
To be honest he would be a great pick-up for the Saints, but I think in the back of many of the Saints organization minds is the signing and then the disappearance skills-wise of Jermaine Mayberry, just a few years back. Alan is a younger player, but the Mayberry signing at his age didn’t work out and I believe that may have a factor on if the Saints are a major player in the Faneca sweepstakes or not. I still believe that Alan has a few real strong seasons in him, but the question mark will be at what cost. I do think the Saints will have interest in Alan, but it will have to be the right deal for him and you can bet he will have quite a few other teams after him also. I do know that the Saints coaching staff really likes Andy Alleman and they believe he will be ready to step in as a starter in 2008.
3. I have said this before Craig, but unless the team and Deuce can come to a restructuring I don’t see him on this team in 2008. I would love for Deuce to return and he seems to be open to the idea of a restructured deal, but that will have to be worked out for him to return. He is a very valuable piece of this team’s structure and I certainly want him back, but his price tag is steep for 2008 right now and for him to be back in the black and gold it would have to be with a new money deal.
Hello Mike, always appreciate your insight on Saints’ matters.
To be blunt, do you think Deuce will be able to come back and be effective? Don't get me wrong. I think he is a phenomenal player. I can't think of any players we've had that can match his heart and determination. But he's just not the same player he was 5 years ago, before the first season ending injury. I do wish him the best though.
And as far as our running game goes, with the way Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker finished up the year (coupled with the chance to pick up someone during off-season) how important do you thinkit will be to have Deuce back on the field?
Phil, I think he can come back from the injury, but it is his contract that may prevent him from returning. The Saints staff feels confident he can return and play at a high level, but his contract is pretty strong and without a restructuring I don’t see him back. I agree he is a big part of their entire attack, but from a financial standpoint I also see the Saints part on this.
Pierre Thomas did a great job late and so did Aaron Stecker, but the sticky part is that Stecker is an unrestricted free agent right now. So with an injured and high-priced McAllister and an unsigned Stecker the running back group needs to be resolved in the next few weeks. I think we will find out by the end of February if the Saints and Deuce can come up with a deal that is beneficial to both. Remember that Deuce knows that he will not get a huge deal from any other team because of the knee problems, he also really likes the area and team, and he may be very open to a restructured deal.
Right now this is shaping up as a critical year for the organization. There are a host of financial deals and holes to be filled on both sides of the ball and I have always felt the 3rd year of any coaching regime is the most critical to either get it straightened out or you drop off. I really believe that the most critical time for Sean Payton and the Saints will be the off-season of 08. When you see everything that has to be worked out, you can see why this season is so critical. Not only are there deals for players on the table, but also does this team try and rework a new deal for Sean Payton. There is a lot of cash layout for the Saints organization for 2008.
Thanks for taking my question. I've been a long time fan of your draft coverage. You always do excellent work.
My concern is the Saints offense. I know that the team's most glaring holes are in our secondary, but I also see cause for concern on the offensive side of the ball. I read a stat that said the Saints were amongst the league leaders in dropped passes. I know Coach Payton likes to throw the ball a lot, but so do the New England Patriots, and I don't believe their dropped passes stat is nearly that bad. I think the team is set at QB and FB. Other than that, every other offensive position could use an upgrade. Seeing as Payton likes to throw the ball a ton, it would seem wise to invest some money in high quality talent. I've heard that Roy Williams and Chad Johnson may be available in trades. Do you see the Saints being a player in any of those talks?? If not, what do you see the Saints doing in free agency to shore up our offense?
I also know that Sean Payton is an offensive minded coach, so I know he won't wait too long before selecting an offensive player in the draft.
Brent I don’t disagree with you that Sean Payton really puts a lot of emphasis on his offense, but I don’t think the Saints will be a player for Roy Williams and Chad Johnson. I agree defensive back and in particular on defense the biggest areas to upgrade, but I agree with you 100% that Payton has a tremendous amount of stroke on who is selected and signed and he will try and upgrade the wide-out position.
I do see them in competition to upgrade the WR Spot in the off-season and I am talking about free agency and the draft. I would love to see them add a big physical end who could patrol the inside lanes of the field. A player like Ernest Wilford from Jacksonville would be a great fit. He is not real fast, but he is strong, sure-handed and he can make the tough catch.
Two players in the middle rounds that would be great fits would be Virginia Tech’s Eddie Royal or West Virginia’s Darius Reynaud. Both are smaller players, but very quick, excellent with the ball in their hands and both could return kicks. I also see the Saints trying to bring in a veteran swingman who could play both offensive guard and tackle. With Jamar Nesbit an unrestricted free agent I believe they will put Andy Alleman in his spot and then try to bring in a veteran to back up Andy and Jahri Evans.
I agree with you 100% that Payton likes to tinker with the offense and he will try and upgrade the talent on offense, especially at wide receiver.
Thanks for the kind words.
First and foremost, thank you for being a part of our community. I don't think people realize how rare it is for the common fan to have open access to someone in your position, much less have you act as a sounding board for some of our ideas and questions. With that said...
With several juniors deciding to give it another year, it appears that this year's draft will be significantly lighter at LB and therefore lighter as a whole for defense. We all know the Saints need 3 things and they are all on the defensive side of the ball, DB, LB, DT. If Ellis is gone at 10, do you see the Saints staying pat? If they trade down, who do you think could be the partner?
Finally, can you share with us your first 10 picks in the draft and finally can you share with us your thoughts on Brandon Flowers, CB, VT, and where do you see him slated? I personally think he is going to make plenty of plays on Sundays and if we were to trade down, he would be a guy I would like to see us pick up.
Regards and please keep up the good work.
Thanks One Peat, I try and get in as much as I can, but sometimes the schedule is real tight, but I certainly appreciate the nice comments.
If anything I think the Saints would try and trade up to assure themselves of a certain player, in particular Sedrick Ellis. I think it will be hard to deal down, but remember it was just a few years back this team traded a 3rd round pick to move up a few spots to assure them of Jammal Brown, because they thought the Carolina Panthers would take him, and they would have.
Here is my mock 1st round I did for the Houma Courier last Friday. It was done before the Senior Bowl game, but other than one player making movement up into Round 1, and I mean Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, everything pretty much stays the same.
1. Miami Dolphins, Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2. St. Louis Rams, Chris Long, DE, Virginia
3. Atlanta Falcons ***, Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
4. Oakland Raiders ***, Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
5. Kansas City Chiefs ***, Jake Long, OT, Michigan
6. New York Jets, Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
7. New England Patriots, Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State
8. Baltimore Ravens, Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
9. Cincinnati Bengals, Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
10. New Orleans Saints, Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
11. Buffalo Bills, DeSean Jackson, WR, California
12. Denver Broncos, Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
13. Carolina Panthers, Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
14. Chicago Bears, Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
15. Detroit Lions, Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
16. Arizona Cardinals, Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
17. Minnesota Vikings, Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
18. Houston Texans, Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
19. Philadelphia Eagles, Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jonathan Stewart, HB, Oregon
21. Washington Redskins, Sam Baker, OT, USC
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland), Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
23. Pittsburgh Steelers, Dan Connor, OLB/MLB, Penn State
24. Tennessee Titans, Early Doucet, WR, LSU
25. Seattle Seahawks, Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
26. Jacksonville Jaguars, Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn
27. San Diego Chargers, Kenny Phillips, S, Miami (Fla.)
28. Dallas Cowboys, Felix Jones, RB/KR, Arkansas
29. San Francisco 49ers (from Indy), Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (Fla.)
30. Green Bay Packers, Fred Davis, TE, USC
31. New York Giants, Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma
32. New England Patriots, (Forfeited selection)
I like Virginia Tech’s Brandon Flowers quite a bit. He is not real big, but he is a physical player, he is a quick reaction cornerback and he has a good feel for coverage. Now, he does drift a bit with his concentration and he needs to stay more focused, but he plays the ball very well in flight and he breaks hard to the football. He has good coverage skills and I am certain he will test out very well in his individual day. Right now I have him rated as a mid-2nd round pick grade.
From: longtime lurker
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie dominated at the Senior Bowl. Where do you see him going in the draft now? Should the Saints go after him?
Longtime lurker, Cromartie was a solid second round pick, probably in the middle of Round 2 before the Senior Bowl practices and game. He was very good all week long and he certainly looked as though he could play with the big boys in the practices and then he turned out to be a great playmaker on defense in the game. No one improved his draft stock as much as he did in that game. Teams will love him, despite the fact that he needs work on his footwork and overall techniques, because he is a very aware defender, he has the size teams really covet in a cornerback and he will test out through the roof.
I would like to see him become a more physical player, especially in run support, but the young man can cover very well and right now he looks as though he has moved himself into the opening round. Every year there is a small college cornerback that moves up high into the draft and this year Dominique is the guy. One scout told me after the Senior Bowl that he believes that Cromartie will go somewhere between 17 and 23 in Round 1. The workout day will set the pace on exactly how high he goes in Round 1, but I agree right now he looks like a middle 1st-round choice.
From: Marlboro Man
The Saints assistant coaches leaving the team for other jobs? I know a lot of people weren't concerned with the D-Line coach leaving and feel that we got a better coach in coach Orgeron. Do you feel the same?
Do you think that the special teams coach and coach Carmichael leaving for Miami might indicate a problem between these coaches and coach Payton?
Lastly, I read an interview in GQ a couple months ago with Chad Johnson and he stated that New Orleans was a team that would always try to get their best player the ball and by that interview he seemed favorable in his opinion of the Saints. My question here is, do you think it's possible that the Saints could trade for Chad and if so what do you think it would take and do you think it would be a good idea.
I really appreciated your answers in your last column and the work you do with the radio shows. Your input and observations really make being a Saints fan something special.
M.M., I know one thing, assistants at the college and pro level make a difference out on the field. I am a little prejudice on this one because I have known Coach O for so many years, but they are getting one of the most fundamentally sound D-Line coaches there is today. He is a fiery guy, who will push his group hard, but he is really one of the elite D-line coaches in the game. Believe me, it is a big upgrade to get Orgeron to coach this unit.
No, I don’t read it that way. Coaches leave for financial reasons, location, and the ability to work with people they have worked with before and also they look for future opportunities. That is why you see so much movement. Coach Payton has had a good relationship with his staff members, but coaches leave and take other jobs. That is part of the business.
I am glad that Pete Carmichael looks to be staying. Pete has a great relationship with Drew Brees and he is the conduit between the head coach and the player. Pete will be an offensive coordinator real soon in this league and a coach that is quickly moving up the coaching ranks. I am glad he seems to be staying put because of his coaching skills and his ability to work with the star player on this team, Drew Brees.
I don’t see the Saints chasing after Chad. Hey, he is a heck of a football player, but he has started to become a major distraction for the Bengals. I can see why he would want to come to New Orleans because you have an established star QB in place and he would get a huge amount of passes thrown his way and it would be a great compliment to have Marques Colston opposite him, but it will cost you plenty to obtain Chad and I don’t see the Saints doing this.
With the finances this team has to figure out. Marques Colston, Will Smith and Jahri Evans, along with free agents like Aaron Stecker, Brian Young, Jeff Faine, Eric Johnson and Billy Miller, David Patten, and filling in holes in free agency at positions like middle linebacker, cornerback, defensive tackle and wide receiver and the draft. I don’t expect the Saints to make a run at Chad Johnson. Also, this team needs to figure out what to do with the Deuce McAllister contract and can they refigure this deal out to make it work. Mickey Loomis and Russ Ball will be very busy in the next few weeks trying to juggle the finances this team has.
Thanks M.M, I appreciate the kind words and support.
Love your work on SaintsReport.com and the radio.
I know the Saints like to plug holes with FA's so when its draft time they pick the best player available. If Keith Rivers is there at #10 is he their pick and can he be a good MLB?
Did Josh Bullocks have a bad year or is he that bad? What are the possibilities of the Saints taking Kenny Philips to replace him?
Tobeard, one thing that will stay the same and that is that the team will pick the best player on the board. I know at that spot there will be 7 to 8 players all ranked pretty close, but this team has for the past few years tried to fill in obvious needs in free agency and keep that 1st round pick open to the highest rated player.
I believe that Keith Rivers is a terrific prospect and he certainly would be an excellent pick-up for the Saints in Round 1, but it is still very early in the process. Yes, he could play inside if needed. Keith is physical, very quick and he has a knack for being around the football. This football team needs playmakers on defense and he is a playmaker on defense.
Josh is a good run defender, but his weakness is that he is not real strong in coverage and especially on the deep throws. Kevin Kaesviharn is not nearly as athletic or physically gifted as Josh, but he knows good positioning skills and he is always around the ball. He also struggles in man coverage, but he is plays a physical game when receivers cross over the middle and he has a knack for getting his hands on the football. The coaching staff really likes Bullocks and I don’t see the Saints making a change there. I would be shocked to see them pick a safety in Rounds 1 or 2.
Kenny Phillips is a good football player, but I don’t see a team picking him with a top 15 pick. To be honest don’t be surprised to see North Carolina State safety DaJuan Morgan make a run at the top safety position. DaJuan is an excellent prospect and many people outside the ACC region don’t know just how good he really is.
Take care, and thanks for the nice remarks.
From: The Listening Post
Mikeey D. I am back in the states. First of all I want to personally thank you and all my other Saints fans that got insight on the Saints and the team in Dubai from you, the folks at the SaintsReport and all the shows you did for ESPN, Sporting News, Sirius, and WWL-Radio.
My stay here on business was financially great, but it was murder to keep up with my boys without your help and the help of the SaintsReport.
Last year Sports Illustrated named you the ‘Best New Sports Voice in America’. How did that feel because I am a Louisiana-bred guy and why I love my people there is something in our DNA, (I should say for some that don’t like success for anyone, but ourselves). Your hard work and sacrifice has paid off for you and most people really respect what you say, and it had to be a great feeling.
I agree with you that the draft is more important now than ever before and this is my question. You know that I was a neighbor to two former Saints coaches and both told you and me that GM Mickey Loomis had no clue on what to do personnel wise with a team. He is at best a product manager and he makes decisions that the information given to him makes sense, but why doesn’t he get rid of Rick Mueller?
This guy is totally clueless. Mickey is a good product manager and his product is football, but he needs a strong voice to give him that sort of information on personnel on a daily basis. Former coaches, who really had no axe to grind at that time, made it plain and simple that Mueller had no real eye for talent. Him being interviewed for jobs goes to show you how much this is a good ole-boys league.
Remember, I was never a big Randy Mueller guy and told you this many times and I think Rick knows even less than Randy on personnel. The one thing I give Randy is that he always had a strong opinion, either good or bad, on a prospect and that is not Rick Mueller. I guess Rick is just easier to get along with and Randy was “a bit of a prickly personality” to say the least.
Thanks, and I will be in touch with you, the Cajun Co-Co and Be’Be’.
Thanks, TLP. I am glad you are back home safe. I know your job was very important, a lot more important than football to all of us and I am glad you made it back safe.
I know what you mean, but it was great to win that award. It gives you some validation for all the work and I certainly appreciate the honor. To win an award from the most prestigious sports magazine in the world means a ton.
In this business and just about every other people will disagree with you and I have no problems with that. Matter of fact, we both kind of learn from those types of debates. It is the made up stories that really gets you. Some swear they know you, talk to you regular and stuff like that and say things you never said, but that is part of this business and the world we live in. For the last 23 years I have had a great ride and I certainly appreciate the support of so many.
I remember the conversations, but only Mickey Loomis can make that move. I agree that this team needs a very strong voice in personnel and have said and written this many times, but Loomis is the guy to make a move like that. I have always felt that this team needs a strong sounding board voice on personnel to play off of Mickey’s strength, which is financial matters, and like you point out, product management. He has been in place since 2003, so if he really wanted to make a move he certainly has had plenty enough time to do so.
To me Russ Ball would be a great guy to have the stroke on personnel matters. He has done it all, from coaching, scouting, working contracts and he knows his stuff, football wise. This guy is a future GM in the NFL and I mean real soon. He is smart, understands this game real well and he works very well with others.
Right now, Sean Payton is the strong voice on personnel and while I know it is part of the process to get everyone involved he has a tremendous amount of say on personnel, just like Jim Haslett did.
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