Since the surprisingly disappointing playoff-less season came to an early close for the New Orleans Saints, the team has been digging deep in hopes of getting the franchise back on pace after finishing 7-9 in two of the last three years.
Between personnel changes and insane roster moves, it looks like Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis mean business. One of the fresh faces in the Big Easy is former Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, who was named the new director of college scouting for the Black and Gold.
But on Friday, he was named assistant general manager. He, along with pro scouting director Terry Fontenot will be required to report directly to Loomis. Ireland’s initial role with the team — heading the college scouting department — is expected to remain intact.
He spoke at the NFL Scouting Combine in February about his job with his new team.
“Mickey and Sean (Payton) have been great just kind of letting me do my thing,” Ireland told NewOrleansSaints.com senior writer John DeShazier. “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 could lend a helping hand in the front offices as assistant GM to Loomis, especially during the draft 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.”
As the former Dolphins GM, he probably lent his voice in the acquisition of LB Dannell Ellerbe, who was obtained in the trade that sent WR Kenny Stills to Miami. Jeff Ireland seems to be fitting right in with his new organization.
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