Recapping the offseason so far (indepth article) and upcoming mock draft with trade (1 Viewer)

cwebb41

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What to Make of the Offseason so Far.......by cwebb41

Following a disappointing 7-9 record, Sean Payton was quite coy when pointing out what he intended to accomplish this offseason to improve the New Orleans roster.

“I think one’s a corner. I think another position is an interior offensive lineman. And potentially a pass-rusher,” Payton told Pro Football Talk back in February.

Payton also vowed to improve the leadership of the team for 2015 as well. Losing valued veterans such as Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Darren Sproles and Jabari Greer hurt the locker room.."I think the price of that experience and leadership hurt us some." Payton vowed to look at the entire roster from top to bottom.

Who could have imagined the bombshell that has transpired so far. Let's take a closer look at a stunning start to the offseason and what lies ahead for the upcoming draft.

The Jimmy Graham Trade. The shocking news of Jimmy Graham to the rival Seahawks for a center and a draft pick stunned the entire NFL. What are the Saints doing? Why give up one of the best game-changers in football? First analysis saw this as a salary dump and a move that will hurt the Saints going forward.

After the shock wore off, looking at it closer, I can see the value with a late first round pick (#31 overall), future cap relief and getting an all-pro center in Max Unger. Unger is a MASSIVE upgrade at a much needed position and will be a welcome addition to the running game. Payton improved the interior line instantly.

Lelito and Goodwin were not the answer. Goodwin is near the end of his career (age and skill level) and Lelito is looking like either the replacement for Ben Grubbs (traded to KC for a 5th round pick) at the other guard position or a valued backup. I believe Evans will back at a reduced cap number and hopefully will be back to full health next season.

Browner Signing --- adding Brandon Browner (three-year, $15 million contract ) is a massive upgrade over anything we had last year. He is not Revis, but he is not Corey White either. He is a big physical corner that should complement Lewis on the other side very well.

Also, getting Browner should mean we are not targeting a CB in the first or second rounds. I guess you can knock Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters off your mock drafts. Picking another early corner would mean SBJ was a total waste of a second round pick last year. He should see more action this fall.

Kenny Stills Trade -- This was a head scratcher when I first heard about the deal to Miami for ILB Ellenbre and a 3rd round pick. Stills was a pleasant 5th round surprise who I felt was underutilized. He had sure hands and was a big time deep threat. He was wonderful at the intermediate sideline out pattern. He rarely dropped passes as well.

Analyzing the trade, there are two reasons for this trade. One, Stills skill set is much like Cooks. Though not the precise route runner like Cooks, but similar in small frame and cat quick with 4.3 speed, perfect for a slot receiver. It seems the two could not mesh together on the field.

The second reason is leadership. Stills immature behavior and late night partying did not sit well with Payton. Stills and Graham, as great as they are, were not leaders. They both seemed to drift in games. These two trades were a statement of improved leadership.

Ellenbre replaces Curtis Lofton as the starting middle line backer. Curious to see what his restructured deal with look like on the cap. The extra third round pick this year is a valuable chip come this upcoming draft.

Revamp of the Running Game -- With the heartbreaking release of fan favorite Pierre Thomas, many wondered what will be the makeup of the RB position for the Saints in 2015. Many thought Ingram may bolt, leaving the Saints with only Khiry Robinson as the only reliable back on the roster. Resigning Ingram and then the shocking acquistion of C.J. Spiller made the RB position not only a position of strength, but perhaps reshaped the unit into the best running back tandem in football.

You know the old saying: don't know what you got till it's gone. Sean Payton felt that and then some last year with the loss of Darren Sproles. For the first time, he did not have that satelite back that put fear into defenses. The offense was too predictable and felt like an old Ferrari missing a few spark plugs.

Enter C.J. Spiller. And beware to the rest of the NFL.

Landing Spiller was HUGE! This will go down as the best offseason pickup that any team made this free agency period. He will explode in this offense. Imagine a mix of Thomas and Sproles with big play ability. He is simply electric with a football in his hands. His role will force teams to spy him with a safety or a linebacker, but, he is not just a receiver. He is a legitimate running back threat as well.

Having him and Ingram in the same backfield, with Ingram's improved receiving skills, will make this offense explosive and unpredictable.......something that was sorely lacking the last couple of years.

How high were the Saints on Spiller? Spiller's deal is $18 million over four years with $9 million guaranteed and a $5 million signing bonus. Ingram, considered the second best back on the market, got 4 year / $16 million contract with a $3.6 million signing bonus, $7.6 million guaranteed. Money well spent.

Mark him down for 75 receptions, 1200 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.

Make no mistake about Ingram, he is the bell cow of this offense. He will get his 18-20 carries per game and be the power back that will eat yards. Expect 1200 yards rushing from Ingram. Ingram is entering his prime and has earned Payton's trust. Don't forget about Khiry Robinson. He will is kind of the odd man out in the rotation, but he can fill in if Ingram is ever injured and has proven he can carry the load in the past.

Receiving Corps Dilema: Any other team that loses two big time talents like Graham and Stills would be in big trouble. However, I don't feel the Saints are in trouble at all. Marques Colston is still a weapon and Brandin Cooks is a flat-out game-changer. Watch him this year, he will explode. Nick Toon had his flashes last year and is ready for a bigger role. Josh Hill and Benjamin Watson are more than adequate at TE. Expect to see a significant jump for Hill this year, he will surprise.

The Saints will draft another wide receiver, possibly with the #31 or #44 pick. Two intriguing possibilites are Jalen Strong and Dorial Green-Beckham. Jalen Strong has been compared to Marques Colston, a sure-handed big-bodied receiver who is an excellent weapon in the red zone. Strong can be a natural replacement for Colston in a couple of years.

Green-Beckham is a wild card. He has top 5 talent, but his character questions will probably drop him into the second round. Do the Saints take a shot at #44? 6'5 receivers with 4.4 speed don't come around very often. If he is there in the second round, I say take a chance. Could you imagine him in this offense?

Upcoming Draft: The Saints have two first-round picks, a second-round pick, two third-round picks and an extra fifth-round pick. There are three huge holes left: linebacker, wide receiver and offensive line.

Edge pass rusher has to be addressed early in the draft. Premier pass rushers are worth their weight in gold and finding one in free agency is not an option. And with Junior Gallette's legal woes still in limbo, pass rush is a glaring hole.

There are four premier edge rushers in this draft: Fowler, Beasley, Gregory and Ray. The Saints must find a way to land one of these four. Don't be suprised if they use the third round pick in the Stills trade to move up a couple of slots to get one of these four. Alvin Dupree is also an option here as well.

The Saints could go guard/tackle with talents like Scherff or Collins at #13, especially if they let Evans go. However, I expect him back and would like to see the Saints pick a guard with their second or third round picks with talents like Cameron Erving, Laken Tomlinson or Arie Kouandjio.

Projected 3-Round Mock Draft: Here is my projected mock draft:

#9: Projected trade with Giants -- Saints draft Randy Gregory -- LB Nebraska
With the third round pick obtained from the Dolphins (#78), the Saints trade up and grab the edge rusher they desperately need. Many saw Gregory as a top 5 pick, but may drop in the draft due to his weight loss issues at the combine. Regardless, he is an explosive edge rusher and would be a perfect addition to this defense.

#31 Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Is he a linebacker? Is he a safety? Who cares, this guys makes plays period. The tape don't lie. He just has a nose for the football that you just can't teach. He is a hybrid playmaker that will be like a swiss army knife for Ryan's defense. Fascinating to think how he and Vacarro could interchange at slot corner. Or at weak side linebacker covering running backs in the flat. A lot of people think he is overrated, but so I must be in the minority that thinks he will be a star in this league.

#44 Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma -- The true definition of a boom or bust pick. One of the most gifted receivers to come out in a long time. He could be the next Randy Moss or the next Josh Gordan. If he falls this far, I say grab him. 6'5 with 4.49 speed with great hands don't come around very often. The character issues are there and will make him fall on draft day. But it is downright scary to think what he would be in this offense if he keeps his head on straight.

#75 Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke -- A high character kid with great upside. He has all the physical tools and work ethic to be a starter in this league. Could be the steal of this entire draft. Would love to see him as Grubbs replacement with Lelito as a valuable backup.

What does this all mean? All these dizzying moves makes most people say REBUILD! This is not a rebuild people, it is a back-to-basics, in your face, do your job, RETOOL. When you have Drew Brees at the helm, you are in win now mode.

Payton wants to go back to basics that made him successful in the past. Success is a savvy offensive line with an accurate quarterback, a potent rushing attack and a bend, don't break defense that forces turnovers. And of course, penciling in the dangerous satellite back to put fear into defenses.

What made the Saints so dangerous was when Brees was passing to EVERYONE, not force feeding three or four players. That is why guys like Toon and Hill are going to be so important next year. Defenses were always on their heels trying to guess what was coming next.

There are many questions left to be answered. Who will step up and take charge as leaders that Payton wants so desperately? Who will we draft this spring? What other surprises are on the horizon?

As always, we all will be watching.
 

BuddyDeesGhost

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I wrote this myself
This is good work. I like your recap, but tend to disagree with your draft. Specifically, we would be foolish not to go after an Offensive Linemen till round 3 when that is probably the strongest position in the 2015 draft. By coincidence(?), it is also our greatest position of need this year. For once the stars are in alignment and the Football gods have given us exactly what we need.

Grubbs is gone, Evans and Strief are aging. Some people round here like our backups (Lelito/Klemente) but they are big question marks. Even Max Unger has had some health issues in the past. We are fortunate enough to have some great weapons like Ingram, Spiller and Cooks, but right now, we need to protect the engine that makes the offense go - aka: Drew Breesy.

La'El Collins and Brandon Scherff are only two of the OLs who are NFL ready in this years draft. Andrus Peat, Hronis Grasu, Cedric Oghubugy, Reese Dismukes are only a few steps away from being there. This is a great year for Offensive Linemen.

I agree that we need to sort out our defense - but last years Oline play was a nightmare. You could tell that Brees was going to get killed by blitzers. Sometimes we couldn't get the push to get a 3rd and 1.
 

InTheFade82

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Good read.

I am very torn over the #13 pick right now. I originally wanted one of the top edge rushers but because of the Ben Grubbs trade I am now leaning towards one of the top two offensive lineman with our first pick.
 

B_doggman47

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Great analysis, appreciate the time you must have taken to get all this material together. The only thing I disagree with is the 1st rnd. pick. If we do trade up it will be to get Scherff, otherwise I think we will stay at 13 and get Collins. We need to draft OL to replace Grubbs. We can still get good OL in later rounds to groom for when Evans & Streif retire. Lelito will probably be Evans' replacement.
 

InTheFade82

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Does anyone know what position we could possibly move up to if we coupled the 31st pick and a 3rd rounder? I wonder if they intend to stay at the 31st pick or move up for a particular player?
 

pearlms

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This is excellent. I am big on players that compare favorably to the best ones in our division. Hopefully your LB equals Luke Kuechly. Your WR is the same height as Kelvin Benjamin. The Saints need a FB like Mike Tolbert.
 

kingroy

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We will get brandon scherff #13 and we won't be #31 we will move up to #20-27 and get a LB n than 2nd Round Will Get A Wr
 

cajunman9

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What to Make of the Offseason so Far.......by cwebb41

Following a disappointing 7-9 record, Sean Payton was quite coy when pointing out what he intended to accomplish this offseason to improve the New Orleans roster.

“I think one’s a corner. I think another position is an interior offensive lineman. And potentially a pass-rusher,” Payton told Pro Football Talk back in February.

Payton also vowed to improve the leadership of the team for 2015 as well. Losing valued veterans such as Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Darren Sproles and Jabari Greer hurt the locker room.."I think the price of that experience and leadership hurt us some." Payton vowed to look at the entire roster from top to bottom.

Who could have imagined the bombshell that has transpired so far. Let's take a closer look at a stunning start to the offseason and what lies ahead for the upcoming draft.

The Jimmy Graham Trade. The shocking news of Jimmy Graham to the rival Seahawks for a center and a draft pick stunned the entire NFL. What are the Saints doing? Why give up one of the best game-changers in football? First analysis saw this as a salary dump and a move that will hurt the Saints going forward.

After the shock wore off, looking at it closer, I can see the value with a late first round pick (#31 overall), future cap relief and getting an all-pro center in Max Unger. Unger is a MASSIVE upgrade at a much needed position and will be a welcome addition to the running game. Payton improved the interior line instantly.

Lelito and Goodwin were not the answer. Goodwin is near the end of his career (age and skill level) and Lelito is looking like either the replacement for Ben Grubbs (traded to KC for a 5th round pick) at the other guard position or a valued backup. I believe Evans will back at a reduced cap number and hopefully will be back to full health next season.

Browner Signing --- adding Brandon Browner (three-year, $15 million contract ) is a massive upgrade over anything we had last year. He is not Revis, but he is not Corey White either. He is a big physical corner that should complement Lewis on the other side very well.

Also, getting Browner should mean we are not targeting a CB in the first or second rounds. I guess you can knock Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters off your mock drafts. Picking another early corner would mean SBJ was a total waste of a second round pick last year. He should see more action this fall.

Kenny Stills Trade -- This was a head scratcher when I first heard about the deal to Miami for ILB Ellenbre and a 3rd round pick. Stills was a pleasant 5th round surprise who I felt was underutilized. He had sure hands and was a big time deep threat. He was wonderful at the intermediate sideline out pattern. He rarely dropped passes as well.

Analyzing the trade, there are two reasons for this trade. One, Stills skill set is much like Cooks. Though not the precise route runner like Cooks, but similar in small frame and cat quick with 4.3 speed, perfect for a slot receiver. It seems the two could not mesh together on the field.

The second reason is leadership. Stills immature behavior and late night partying did not sit well with Payton. Stills and Graham, as great as they are, were not leaders. They both seemed to drift in games. These two trades were a statement of improved leadership.

Ellenbre replaces Curtis Lofton as the starting middle line backer. Curious to see what his restructured deal with look like on the cap. The extra third round pick this year is a valuable chip come this upcoming draft.

Revamp of the Running Game -- With the heartbreaking release of fan favorite Pierre Thomas, many wondered what will be the makeup of the RB position for the Saints in 2015. Many thought Ingram may bolt, leaving the Saints with only Khiry Robinson as the only reliable back on the roster. Resigning Ingram and then the shocking acquistion of C.J. Spiller made the RB position not only a position of strength, but perhaps reshaped the unit into the best running back tandem in football.

You know the old saying: don't know what you got till it's gone. Sean Payton felt that and then some last year with the loss of Darren Sproles. For the first time, he did not have that satelite back that put fear into defenses. The offense was too predictable and felt like an old Ferrari missing a few spark plugs.

Enter C.J. Spiller. And beware to the rest of the NFL.

Landing Spiller was HUGE! This will go down as the best offseason pickup that any team made this free agency period. He will explode in this offense. Imagine a mix of Thomas and Sproles with big play ability. He is simply electric with a football in his hands. His role will force teams to spy him with a safety or a linebacker, but, he is not just a receiver. He is a legitimate running back threat as well.

Having him and Ingram in the same backfield, with Ingram's improved receiving skills, will make this offense explosive and unpredictable.......something that was sorely lacking the last couple of years.

How high were the Saints on Spiller? Spiller's deal is $18 million over four years with $9 million guaranteed and a $5 million signing bonus. Ingram, considered the second best back on the market, got 4 year / $16 million contract with a $3.6 million signing bonus, $7.6 million guaranteed. Money well spent.

Mark him down for 75 receptions, 1200 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.

Make no mistake about Ingram, he is the bell cow of this offense. He will get his 18-20 carries per game and be the power back that will eat yards. Expect 1200 yards rushing from Ingram. Ingram is entering his prime and has earned Payton's trust. Don't forget about Khiry Robinson. He will is kind of the odd man out in the rotation, but he can fill in if Ingram is ever injured and has proven he can carry the load in the past.

Receiving Corps Dilema: Any other team that loses two big time talents like Graham and Stills would be in big trouble. However, I don't feel the Saints are in trouble at all. Marques Colston is still a weapon and Brandin Cooks is a flat-out game-changer. Watch him this year, he will explode. Nick Toon had his flashes last year and is ready for a bigger role. Josh Hill and Benjamin Watson are more than adequate at TE. Expect to see a significant jump for Hill this year, he will surprise.

The Saints will draft another wide receiver, possibly with the #31 or #44 pick. Two intriguing possibilites are Jalen Strong and Dorial Green-Beckham. Jalen Strong has been compared to Marques Colston, a sure-handed big-bodied receiver who is an excellent weapon in the red zone. Strong can be a natural replacement for Colston in a couple of years.

Green-Beckham is a wild card. He has top 5 talent, but his character questions will probably drop him into the second round. Do the Saints take a shot at #44? 6'5 receivers with 4.4 speed don't come around very often. If he is there in the second round, I say take a chance. Could you imagine him in this offense?

Upcoming Draft: The Saints have two first-round picks, a second-round pick, two third-round picks and an extra fifth-round pick. There are three huge holes left: linebacker, wide receiver and offensive line.

Edge pass rusher has to be addressed early in the draft. Premier pass rushers are worth their weight in gold and finding one in free agency is not an option. And with Junior Gallette's legal woes still in limbo, pass rush is a glaring hole.

There are four premier edge rushers in this draft: Fowler, Beasley, Gregory and Ray. The Saints must find a way to land one of these four. Don't be suprised if they use the third round pick in the Stills trade to move up a couple of slots to get one of these four. Alvin Dupree is also an option here as well.

The Saints could go guard/tackle with talents like Scherff or Collins at #13, especially if they let Evans go. However, I expect him back and would like to see the Saints pick a guard with their second or third round picks with talents like Cameron Erving, Laken Tomlinson or Arie Kouandjio.

Projected 3-Round Mock Draft: Here is my projected mock draft:

#9: Projected trade with Giants -- Saints draft Randy Gregory -- LB Nebraska
With the third round pick obtained from the Dolphins (#78), the Saints trade up and grab the edge rusher they desperately need. Many saw Gregory as a top 5 pick, but may drop in the draft due to his weight loss issues at the combine. Regardless, he is an explosive edge rusher and would be a perfect addition to this defense.

#31 Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Is he a linebacker? Is he a safety? Who cares, this guys makes plays period. The tape don't lie. He just has a nose for the football that you just can't teach. He is a hybrid playmaker that will be like a swiss army knife for Ryan's defense. Fascinating to think how he and Vacarro could interchange at slot corner. Or at weak side linebacker covering running backs in the flat. A lot of people think he is overrated, but so I must be in the minority that thinks he will be a star in this league.

#44 Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma -- The true definition of a boom or bust pick. One of the most gifted receivers to come out in a long time. He could be the next Randy Moss or the next Josh Gordan. If he falls this far, I say grab him. 6'5 with 4.49 speed with great hands don't come around very often. The character issues are there and will make him fall on draft day. But it is downright scary to think what he would be in this offense if he keeps his head on straight.

#75 Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke -- A high character kid with great upside. He has all the physical tools and work ethic to be a starter in this league. Could be the steal of this entire draft. Would love to see him as Grubbs replacement with Lelito as a valuable backup.

What does this all mean? All these dizzying moves makes most people say REBUILD! This is not a rebuild people, it is a back-to-basics, in your face, do your job, RETOOL. When you have Drew Brees at the helm, you are in win now mode.

Payton wants to go back to basics that made him successful in the past. Success is a savvy offensive line with an accurate quarterback, a potent rushing attack and a bend, don't break defense that forces turnovers. And of course, penciling in the dangerous satellite back to put fear into defenses.

What made the Saints so dangerous was when Brees was passing to EVERYONE, not force feeding three or four players. That is why guys like Toon and Hill are going to be so important next year. Defenses were always on their heels trying to guess what was coming next.

There are many questions left to be answered. Who will step up and take charge as leaders that Payton wants so desperately? Who will we draft this spring? What other surprises are on the horizon?

As always, we all will be watching.


At pick #31 Erick Flowers. versatile OL. Or perhaps Marcus Peters, Denzyl Perryman, Kendricks, Stephone Anthony, Bryan Jones(CB). Anyoneof these and a couple of others, but not Shaq Thompson. As a linebacker he is standing around waiting for a runner, or is whipped out by OL (check Walterfootball.com for analysis, which is what I see too). He is a safety that we don't need.
I respect your opinion, and this is my opinion.
 

FootballLady

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Does anyone know what position we could possibly move up to if we coupled the 31st pick and a 3rd rounder? I wonder if they intend to stay at the 31st pick or move up for a particular player?
According to the draft trade charts (assuming those are used), as high as the 4th overall selection.
 

Superfuzz

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Well written article. I have to say, I too disagree with your 1st pick. IMO, Brees largest problem right now is pass protection. This is partially addressed with Unger. We must take a top tier OL with the first pick. This choice basically turns our OLine from last years duds to this years studs. Nevermind the immediate improvement it will give our RB's. Thank you for posting...good read.
 

StRonaldo

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Enjoyed it, but disagree. 13 we need to stay put and get OL. We got the most picks since i can remeber, if we use all 9-10, then we are sure to hit at least 5-6 times on really good players! I trust Peyton and Co. and what ever head scratching pick they make, let's hope for the best and get big returns on all 9 picks!

Go Saints!
 

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