New Orleans Saints mailbag: Draft possibilites, Free agent finds, and more!


Get ready to throw stones at me for jinxing us, but it’s nearly been a full 72 hours since the New Orleans Saints have had any crazy transactions. While some of us can breathe a sigh of relief (for now) with the quietness, others are anxious as to the next ‘chess move’ Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have up their sleeve.

We asked our social media outlets for their New Orleans Saints questions, and I took a good bit of them to answer them.

Special thanks to our following on Facebook and Twitter for taking the time to interact, and ask us questions! As always, keep them coming!

It’s tough to say at this point. I mean, we can speculate as to where the direction of the team is ultimately heading. However, aside my recent mock drafts, I’m strongly believing that a defensive tackle could be in the mix early. I’m not sold on drafting a guard at 13th overall, and many including myself are high on edge rusher and inside linebacker. With a draft so rich with wide receiver talent, I could easily see three of the top 44 picks going to DT, WR, and LB in no particular order.

As far as moves that remain to be made, there’s a lot of chatter out there. The biggest names tied to potentially moving are safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush and guard Jahri Evans. Nothing is set in stone, and since we don’t have the specifics of Dannell Ellerbe’s restructure, hard to say where we are in terms of the salary cap. If Sean Payton has made anything clear within the last week, everyone is expendable.

Personally, I haven’t heard any chatter about Brandon Spikes. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that he’s not in play. With the team getting Ellerbe and sticking it out with Hawthorne. It figures the middle is going to be Ellerbe-Hawthorne, as of now. Things could obviously change, but the need still figures to be an outside linebacker. It’s interesting that him and Mason Foster are still out there, they are among the top free agent prospects at their position.

There’s still a ton of pass rushing options available, but arguably the cream of the crop is gone. It’s hard to see guys like Greg Hardy or Vince Willfork coming to play for the Saints at this present point in time. One name to drop to you is Anthony Spencer, who Rob Ryan used to coach in Dallas. He’s 31, obviously not the most desirable option, but maybe a subtle play for him could happen. Most of the seasoned veterans are what you have left at edge defender, so the draft definitely figures to be our friend.

It’s nothing but hearsay with the Saints players right now. We’re talking about a guy who was the cream of the crop in 2013, and had a major fall off in play last year. Whether that stemmed from locker room issues, talent, lack of work ethic, or whatever else you might suggest, he could very well be a candidate to move. However, I think the team has to feel good with having Byrd and Vaccaro as their primary safeties, and Bush behind him. I fully expect Brandon Browner to be the discipline for the Saints locker room in 2015.

Patrick Robinson is scheduled for a visit with the Steelers today, and is rumored to be of interest by several teams. As much as a bad rap Robinson gets with most fans, he is strongest suited for the slot in Rob Ryan’s defense. If the team doesn’t look at Tramon Williams as their slot corner, then you could see Robinson back in a Saints uniform. It wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.

He’s visited Cleveland and New Orleans thus far, and was reportedly on the Ravens radar. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Williams signed a three-year deal with the Browns earlier today.

It’s hard to think the team can invest in another cornerback without having to sacrifice some other player, like a Jahri Evans. As I previously mentioned, Patrick Robinson would plug into the slot, and be a much cheaper option over Williams.

Are we gonna trade up for Amari Cooper? (Frank D.)

Consider me in the vast minority, but I just don’t believe that’s happening. I think the Saints are smart to hold onto the amount of picks they have. Remember, they drafted Kenny Stills in the 5th Round, and Jimmy Graham in the 3rd Round. If you’re telling me we aren’t able to find a player in such a rich wide receiver pool, then we have an issue. Cooper has already showed a little immaturity with his comments about New Orleans when he visited to play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He further clarified those comments, saying it was Bourbon Street he didn’t care for, not New Orleans.

Do you think we will stay at 13? Move up? Or move down? (Shawn C.)

Kind of goes hand in hand with what I was just saying. I don’t see us wasting the opportunity we have with so many picks in the draft. If the name of the game is improving defense, then what better way to address that with our draft picks. You can get an immediate starter or two, some guys who will be in the mix to take other player’s roster spots, and hopefully some gems to stash on the practice squad.

Are we targeting any wide receivers in the Draft or anyone to round out our defense? (Mario C.)

Well, with the recent departure of Kenny Stills, you can be your bottom dollar that we’ll get a receiver or two in the draft. As for the specifics, that’s a bit more perplexing. This draft class has so much to offer for a receiver. For some perspective, there’s roughly 18 receivers projected to go in the first three rounds.

You know we aren’t going to leave the draft without addressing some defensive pieces. There’s more depth needed at linebacker, and a forgotten piece of the equation is replacing defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker. He was one of the best interior options we had, and his absence will be missed.

Who will be our starting Linebackers? (Tim G.)

Unless something changes, assuming we stick with a base 3-4 defense, and thinking that Junior Galette’s situation will be resolved, I’d tell you that we’re looking at Galette-Hawthorne-Ellerbe-Edebali/Haralson.

What’s the deal with Keenan Lewis? What other moves are you expecting in the free agency?  (Brandon A.)

Keenan Lewis put us all at the edge of our seats just in a quick amount of time. Lewis is a guy who speaks his mind, and there’s no questioning his passion for the game. You have to look at it from his perspective, he sees talent around him going left and right. Since the Saints tend to part ways with the vast majority of contracts towards the end, it doesn’t exactly give him a sense of security, especially being that he took a major ‘hometown discount’ to play in front of the city he loves. We can put this all past us, because at the end of the day, this team needs Keenan Lewis.

I’m not thinking we’ll see a lot more of high-profile free agent signings, but then again, I can’t tell you I saw any of these events coming. I don’t think anyone did. It wouldn’t surprise me if we look at a blocking tight end, experienced linebacker, or a younger wide receiver. In summary, your guess is as good as mine.

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