Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the New Orleans Saints were aggressive in the NFL draft. While the third day continues to roll on, the team is without a pick. There was some belief that they could trade into the second round, but waited patiently to pull the trigger in the 3rd Round to get Zack Baun after a deal with the Browns.
Just when it seemed like the Saints were going into Saturday with four picks to make, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis pulled a fast one by acquiring the 105th overall pick from the Vikings to take Adam Trautman. Don't let the number of picks surrendered fool you, however, as they believed the value was adequate.
"We were able to move back up when we saw our guy (Zack Baun) fall some," Sean Payton said late Friday night.
"And then later in the third round when you start to look at the value of our fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh (round picks) and you do the point totals, it could appear like a lot but it was light getting into the third round. We needed to find a trade partner. Minnesota fortunately was one that at the last minute they were in and we have a clear vision for the two players we selected."
Saturday seems like a very laid-back approach for the Saints, but they'll be working on prioritizing rookie free agents to sign. Payton said they have a stack of players they are looking at, and remove them as they get drafted. However, they hope to find the next Pierre Thomas, and their track history suggests they'll find at least one or two impact guys that will make the roster.
"We’ll be in a position to clearly identify a ranking order of players that we want to sign and commit money to as undrafted free agents and then have the correct vision as to how they will make this roster. I just think it will bring a little bit more order on the third day with everyone in their houses."
Payton thought the draft process went smooth, and that the Saints staff did a great job.
"There was quite a bit of time spent on the telephone with different teams, you have to be patient," Payton said.
"I can’t think of how many calls were made that were made. You think you have a deal with a team and at the last minute they got a better deal. There’s nothing for sure until you agree to it, but yes, I think we helped ourselves. I know our scouting staff and coaching staff are excited, Mickey and Jeff (Ireland). These were players that were definite Saints prototype target players, all of them that fit what we’re about."
Mickey Loomis echoed the strong Saints draft, talking about the excitement grabbing three players that were in their top 40. He said it "couldn't have worked out any better" for New Orleans. They spent a ton of time, about an hour, trying move up from 88th to try to take Baun, but it wasn't there until they made the trade with the Browns.
"Look, I think our philosophy has always been to, hey, if we have a vision and an affinity for someone we'll put a target on them and then we'll go get them," Loomis said.
"That fits in with the philosophy that we've had. But I do think that some of this is relative to how you view your roster. It’s hard to make our team in a lot of areas and we've got a lot of young, talented players on our team that have performed and we have got some guys that are a little more unknown that we like a lot too that you really haven't seen yet. It is difficult to make our roster and so I think for us it is more about quality over quantity. I think that is right."
Loomis said that he's extremely excited about the picks, but admits that sometimes it can be a little bit of a downer when you only have three players to show for.
"You can look at it that way. I don't look at it that way. I feel like we've added three high quality players, high character, intelligent guys who are going to fit with our roster perfectly. And we've had a lot of success in the undrafted free agent arena over the years. And so I'm excited about what we might be able to find there. That's a credit to our scouting department and the guys, Terry Fontenot and Khai (Harley) and Jeff (Ireland) that once we get these guys targeted, go recruit and our coaches do a great job of recruiting."
Both Payton and Loomis have a ton of pride in what they Saints have been able to do after the draft over the years of being together, and there's no doubts in believing it won't happen again for them.