With 8 draft picks in the NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints have a golden opportunity


By now, you’ve likely heard some interesting chatter about the New Orleans Saints and their future. Is the team executing a fire sale? No. Are they going to use picks to bring in Marcus Mariota? No. Are they going to trade away or restructure Drew Brees’ contract? No. Are they rebuilding? No.

So, what in the world is Mickey Loomis and company doing in the Big Easy? Try retooling. The definition of retooling is to revise and reorganize, especially for the purpose of updating or improving. That’s what we have with the recent moves of the New Orleans Saints.

When you think about the ‘fall on your face’ season from a year ago, it’s simply what needed to happen. Moving on from so much veteran leadership at one time wasn’t the answer. It ultimately destroyed the Saints, and led to a 7-9 record.

The Saints were crowned as ‘favorites’ to appear in the Super Bowl. After all, how could you not feel that way after defensive coordinator Rob Ryan helped turn around the league’s worst defense in NFL history into a fourth ranked unit? We had the offensive fire power, and then suddenly the defense hit their stride. All we needed was that one player, a cornerback, to enter the mix. It never happened.

With eight picks in the NFL Draft currently, it’s time for the Saints to make the most of it. For the black and gold, they’ve had the lowest amount of draft picks (53) since 2006. Coincidentally, 2006 was the last year that the team had eight picks. Overall, that draft was nothing short of spectacular, and flourished into arguably the franchise’s best draft class in history.

As the then newly rebuilding Saints, led by first year head coach Sean Payton, were coming off of a dismal 3-13 season in 2005. Events of Hurricane Katrina coupled with the buzz of Tom Benson contemplating a move from the Crescent City had New Orleans at the ultimate low.

That 2006 draft class consisted of many good/great players that still play today: Reggie Bush, Roman Harper, Jahri Evans, Rob Ninkovich, Zach Strief, and Marques Colston. Unfortunately, Ninkovich’s time with the Saints didn’t last, but his tenure with the New England Patriots speaks for itself.

Who ever would have thought that the pride and joy of Bloomsburg University would turn into one of the best guards the Saints have ever had? Who ever would have thought that anyone from Hofstra University would eventually become the franchise leader in virtually every receiving category? Who ever thought that a former Heisman Trophy winner would become one of the most electrifying players to suit up in a Saints uniform? I could keep going on, but you get the point.

What an opportunity the Saints have heading into the NFL Draft. This is a chance to help build up the roster for future years. The leadership in place by the additions of center Max Unger and cornerback Brandon Browner are sure to be felt from the very start. Speaking of Browner, let this tweet set the tone for the 2015 season:

Unger has also been praised publicly on Twitter and Seattle Seahawks forums on his leadership. It may only be two players, but couple that with existing leadership figures Drew Brees and Zach Strief, to name a couple, and the team has voices in the locker room to get the ship back on the right course.

Ultimately, the name of the game is work. There is no expectation of showing up and letting it all unfold on Sundays any longer like we saw so many times in 2014.

As for the NFL Draft, we’re really hoping that we get the Dallas Cowboys version of Jeff Ireland. Quite simply put, we’re hoping that we get the right players. While Ireland was a national scout for the Cowboys, he found several gems from 2001-2005. For starters, there’s Jason Witten, a tight end that needs no introduction. His play speaks for itself. However, Ireland also helped Dallas bring in Roy Williams, Andre Gurode, and Terence Newman. All of these said players flourished into Pro Bowlers, and had more than a few memorable moments.

In 2005, Ireland would get a promotion to become the team’s Vice President of College and Pro Scouting. When Ireland left the team following the 2007 season, 38 of the team’s players were a part of the roster from the previous three seasons.

Coach Sean Payton has long opted for the best player on his roster, and it’s evident when you look at how many rookies (both drafted and undrafted) are featured on the roster. It hurts not having that fourth round pick given up for Jimmy Graham, but with an extra first and fifth round pick, and a draft full of appealing prospects, the New Orleans Saints should be in a great situation to retool their roster for years to come.

As far as free agency, they aren’t done yet.

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