From the Bird’s Nest: Saints fans should be euphoric
Watching the NFL draft unfold last night, there was plenty that caught my eye long before the 24th pick in the draft.
Nothing surprised me in the first five picks. Although I would not have taken Cam Newton, I knew Carolina would. And, if they're right about Newton being ready to make an impact, Carolina got a lot better last night and the NFC South just became downright scary.
The first jolt came at #6. I fully expected Cleveland to take Julio Jones. Cleveland was in need of a top-notch receiver and Jones was the perfect fit. But I can't fault the Browns for taking the Falcons' offer. There is no question that Atlanta believes they're very very close to being a Super Bowl team, otherwise they wouldn't have overpaid for Jones. And make no mistake about it, they overpaid. Cleveland needs players, and lots of them. Atlanta insured the Browns they would have a chance to get those players this year and next. The Falcons, meanwhile, got the man they needed in Jones, who will make Atlanta's running game even better with his blocking ability and adds a threat opposite Roddy White. They were willing to overpay to get into elite status right away. They may succeed in that quest.
The first defensive end came off the board when San Francisco chose Aldon Smith of Mizzou. Like many Saints fans, those pass-rushers were something I was paying attention to. I was hoping the 'Niners would choose Blaine Gabbert, but, oh well.
Tennessee taking Jake Locker was somewhat of a surprise. I thought Gabbert would go before Locker.
Then it was Dallas' turn. I was figuring Prince Amukamara of Nebraska, given how bad the 'boys' corners are. I also thought they might go for a defensive end (and was hoping they wouldn't). Dallas, though, made a solid pick of need with USC OL Tyron Smith.
Jacksonville then took Gabbert after trading up. Now three quarterbacks were gone. I thought three might go in the first round, but I didn't think it would be in the top ten picks. And, that meant that some players were slipping. But, in the next ten picks, four defensive ends were taken. The board for the Saints was getting thinner, although they had Cam Jordan and Da'Quan Bowers still available.
Nick Fairley fell all the way to Detroit at #13. Fairly and Suh...whew! Minnesota, I though, really reached (panicked might be a better word) when they chose Christian Ponder at #12. They could have traded down and still gotten Pounder later.
Things got interesting for me when the Giants were ready to pick at #19. I really thought Mark Ingram might be a possibility. Although I was still hoping Jordan and/or Bowers would be available at #24, Ingram would have been my choice for the Saints if they were both gone. But the Giants couldn't pass on Amukamara and I breathed a little sigh of relief.
After that pick I realized that the Saints were going to be faced with a choice. I wasn't sure what Cleveland was going to do, but I was pretty sure that the Eagles and Colts were going to go with offensive lineman. That meant that even if Cleveland took Bowers or Jordan, the Saints could choose the other. Or they could choose Ingram.
Cleveland took DT Phil Taylor of Baylor.
Now, had they taken Jordan, I would have wanted to see the Saints take Ingram over Bowers because of the concern over Bowers' knee. But Bowers still would have made me happy. But after Cleveland's pick, my choice was made.
The Saints had to take Cam Jordan.
He was one of the top five rated DE's in the draft. And, for some reason, a couple of teams that chose a DE took someone other than Jordan. While I knew that picking Ingram would make many Saints fans happy, there was finally a draft where the best player available for the Saints was also a position of need. This was, in my opinion, a no-brainer.
Obviously, the Saints thought so, as well. After the Eagles took Baylor OL Danny Watkins, it took the Saints just a couple of minutes to get their pick to the Commissioner. When Jordan's name was announced, I actually applauded in my living room. At the same time, I was a little sad that Ingram was still on the board. Someone was about to get a helluva value late in the first round.
I decided to keep watching to see where Ingram went, or if he went at all. I'm waiting for the Patriots pick and then I see that the Patriots logo "on the clock" had been replaced.
By the fleur-de-lis.
Now, I'm no "stinkin genius" but I knew what that meant. Saints fans would have their cake and get to eat it. Ingram was going to New Orleans. And, when the details were released, I was happy the Saints hadn't overpaid for the pick. They basically gave New England a second round pick. The Saints first round pick next year would have been late anyway, so that part was a wash.
The Saints not only filled two big needs; they got two players at 24 and 28 that easily could have gone in the top ten (Jordan) and top 15 (Ingram.)
Of course, the Ingram pick raises a question or two, specifically the future of Reggie Bush, who, judging by his tweet after the Ingram pick, feels like his days in the Crescent City are numbered. But Saints fans should be rejoicing today.
And, the Saints showed the Falcons that they, too, are serious about 2011 being their year.
Once again, Payton/Loomis look like they've hit a home run.