The New Orleans Saints were very satisfied at the end of day one, because they addressed one huge need by taking California defensive end Cameron Jordan with the 24th pick in the NFL draft.
Then they traded back into the first round and grabbed Alabama running back Mark Ingram at No. 28.
General manager Mickey Loomis said both players, who have strong NFL bloodlines, were among their top four targets on our board.
"It will remain to be seen if we were right. We’ll have to wait a few years to judge that, but we certainly feel good about this draft. — Mickey Loomis"
The Saints traded their first-round pick in the 2012 draft and their second-round pick this year to the New England Patriots to take Ingram.
He rushed for 1,658 yards in 2009, won the Heisman Trophy and led Alabama to the national championship.
Ingram, the son of former NFL standout Mark Ingram Sr, injured his left knee in preseason practice, underwent arthroscopic surgery, and missed the first two games finishing with 875 yards on 158 carries.
Still, he was the first running back taken.
The Saints finished 28th in the NFL in rushing last year, averaging just 94.9 yards a game while being decimated by injuries.
Undrafted rookie free agent Chris Ivory had a team-high 716 yards, no one else rushed for over 300 yards.
Chris Ivory, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, who led New Orleans in rushing in 2008 and 2009, all missed time.
"I’m excited that they traded back into the first round to come get me. They have a lot of great backs down there. I’m just going to go down there, work my butt and contribute to the team and help them win championships. — Mark Ingram"
Bush apparently doesn’t think there is room for him in a crowded backfield in the Saints pass-first offense led by quarterback Drew Brees.
Bush tweeted shortly after the Saints picked Ingram “It’s been fun New Orleans”, an indication he does not expect to be back with the team. He was expected to return on a restructured contract.
New Orleans coach Sean Payton doesn’t necessarily see it that way.
"There’s a certain skill set Reggie has and there are things that he does that we value a lot, Payton said before Bush’s tweet. Ingram is a runner who I would say is a much different style. — Sean Payton"
I wouldn’t even begin to look at how it will affect Reggie’s status with the team. Reggie has been a big part of what they have done successfully offensively in the last five years.
Coach Payton believes Ingram can help in the passing game also, even though he didn’t catch a lot of passes in college.
"One trait that is impressive is his ability to block pressure, Payton said. He’s a physical back. He’s good in his protections."
With Jordan, the Saints should bolster a lackluster pass rush, which New Orleans finished tied for 18th in the NFL in sacks last season. and did not get consistent pressure from either starting ends Will Smith or Alex brown.
Smith also faces a four-game suspension at the start of the 2011 season for a violation of the league’s drug policy that dates back to 2008.
Jordan had 62 tackles, 12.5 stops for loss and 5.5 sacks while forcing three fumbles as a senior. He was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection last year. He started 32 games in his four-year career at California.
The Saints project the 6-foot-4, 287-pound Jordan to play on the left side, Brown’s spot.
"We thought he was going to go a little higher and were very nervous the last two picks. We need a lot more pressure coming off that left side and he’s got a little more height and length to him than Brown. — Rick ReiprishI think I’m going to fit in fine, I adapt well and get along with everybody. I know in the past they (the Saints) have been able to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. As a defensive end what more can you ask for. — Cameron Jordan"
After the first round, GM Mickey Loomis and Head Coach Sean Payton did a tremendous job of getting not only the best players available at their picks, but they filled needs that will only bolster this teams chance at representing the NFC in this years Super Bowl.