The New Orleans Saints and GM Mickey Loomis have made several personnel changes since the 2014 season came to an early end. One of the new faces in the Big Easy is former Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, who is the new director of college scouting for the Black and Gold.
With the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine taking place in Indianapolis, the interviews are pouring in. NewOrleansSaints.com senior writer John DeShazier caught up with Loomis, who seems to be pleased with Ireland’s performance up to this point.
“Jeff, who I’ve known for a long time but haven’t worked with before, boy, he’s stepped right in and we haven’t missed a beat,” Loomis said. “And I like the fact that he comes at it from a little different perspective with some different ideas, and I think it’s been real good.”
Additional perspective and ideas are exactly what this club needs. Whatever the Saints had going on this past season just wasn’t cutting it. The fresh faces within the organization are certainly promising for the future.
DeShazier also got a chance to interview Jeff Ireland, who spoke at the combine about joining New Orleans as director of college scouting.
“Mickey and Sean (Payton) have been great just kind of letting me do my thing,” Ireland said in Indy. “It’s been quite a bit of a process because I wasn’t in football till January, so I watched a lot of football during my time off, but I wasn’t writing reports like the scouts were.
“This process has been a grind because we’ve been familiarizing myself with the players, but also getting them right on the board. We’re trying to separate the men from the boys right now and trim the board from the guys that fit the traits that we’re looking for. The scouts have been outstanding, and so that’s what we’re doing.”
DeShazier brought up the fact that Ireland is not always an agreeable voice and if that process works better.
“Well, debate is healthy,” Ireland said confidently. “In any kind of draft room, debate is always going to be healthy. I know what I’m looking for in players, and Sean and Mickey know what they’re looking for.
“We’re trying to marry that together and, obviously, those voices count a lot more than mine, but I’m going to debate the process because I’ve seen certain things in my career that may have worked. It’s just trying to find out what we’re looking for and really not worrying about what everybody else is looking for. It’s what the Saints need.
“Sean and I had a history together (Dallas). He’s seen me in the draft room. You know it’s always very respectful, but we’re just trying to create a vision for the player. That’s my objective and Sean knows that, and Mickey knows. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t agree, but at the end of the day, we’re just trying to get the vision correct on how we’re going to utilize a player, is he the right type of guy that we’re looking for.”
With experience as a general manager, Jeff Ireland can really present some extra knowledge to the process.
“I think experience is very important, especially in the draft process,” Ireland told DeShazier. “Having someone that’s been through it before, I’ve learned from some great people through my career. I’ve been in that seat before, I know the challenges that you can face with running a draft on draft day and the process that it takes to get the board right. I think experience is healthy, so I’m blessed. I get to be with great people and do what I love.”
With the NFL Combine closing its doors Monday, we’ll see what kind of college scouting magic Ireland worked when the draft kicks off April 30 in Chicago.
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