Saints Draft

ESPN’s Draft Room Simulation Raises Eyebrows for Saints Fans

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Dec 18, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reacts as he holds a red coaches challenge flag against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Saints defeated the Cardinals 48-41. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reacts as he holds a red coaches challenge flag against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Saints defeated the Cardinals 48-41. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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A trade was made to select a surprise player during the New Orleans Saints slot on ESPN’s Draft Simulation special.

Last night, ESPN’s SportsCenter ran a special hosted by Trey Wingo. In this special, analysts such as Todd McShay, Bill Polian and Darren Woodson (among others) simulated what draft rooms may look like for certain teams. When a particular team was on the clock, each analyst would assume a different role in the team’s front office. For example, Darren Woodson acted as Sean Payton while the New Orleans Saints were on the clock, as Bill Polian assumed the role of GM Mickey Loomis.

Many people, including myself, found this to be fascinating and fun. It really gave off the raw feeling of being part of a war room on Draft Night. The thinking on the toes, the debating of talent, the possibility of what to trade with whom or being afraid of being jumped up in the draft.

In case you missed the special, here’s an in-depth recap of the happenings involving the New Orleans Saints. A summary will be included afterward and before my reaction/take if you want to skip ahead.

The experts deliberated as if they were actual personnel for the teams, arguing for who their favorite player available was, who the “cleanest” talent was, and possible trades involving draft picks. In the Saints’ case, all of the above was discussed in depth. After the first 10 picks were simulated, a few great players were surprisingly still available. Marshon Lattimore, O.J. Howard, Christian McCaffery, Rueben Foster and Derek Barnett were the top remaining talents.

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Polian (Loomis) even argued for Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, as he believed Brees needs a replacement right away. McShay (acting as Jeff Ireland, assistant GM and college scouting director) began pushing for McCaffery to be drafted. Woodson (Payton) then said the team needed to focus on defense first, as their offense is already in good shape and the defense “was dead last in stopping people last season.” Polian and McShay both agreed, and Polian asked if they needed help more in the front or back end.

When Woodson said back end (referring to the secondary), Polian then asked if the problems could be solved with a rookie or a veteran, to which Woodson replied “veteran.” That’s when Polian, with the blessing from Woodson and McShay, has the team call up New England. They ask how much it would cost to get Butler, and their answer was the 32nd and 76th pick. The Saints counteroffer with the 32nd pick and the 103rd selection. This way, as they mentioned, the Saints would still have three picks in the first two days of the draft. Remember, Butler had been linked to a trade involving Brandin Cooks. Butler was ultimately not traded, as the Saints received that very same 32nd overall pick in the deal instead.

The Patriots accept the offer, and Butler became a Saint.

Polian looks to Payton and says “you got your defensive guy.” McCaffery is then mentioned by McShay, praised again by Polian until Payton declares “having McCaffery would be great for our offense. Let’s take him.” So, the Saints traded for Butler and drafted McCaffery. Essentially, they are filling two needs with two quick moves, so to speak. Or are they?

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