Thursday, April 24, 2008

Draft Week - The Saints, Part II

Yesterday, I kind of went through a primer on what I think the Saints are looking for. Now, I don't consider myself an expert on college football as a whole or on evaluating talent for college, and I am even less so an expert on the NFL. That said, I have opinions and a blog, so I'm writing about them.

The Saints hold the #10 overall pick and hold picks in every round except the 4th. The needs here are defensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback, and center (having lost Jeff Faine). There is no center who will be worth the #10 pick, so forget about that. At defensive tackle, Glenn Dorsey will not be available, Sedrick Ellis may be available, but likely won't, and the next defensive tackles are not considered worthy of such high selection. At linebacker, Keith Rivers may be there, and if he isn't there likely aren't any really good selections there.

At cornerback, however, there will likely be a wealth of talent available at #10. Leodis McKelvin, Michael Jenkins, Aqib Talib, and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie all are more likely than not going to be available, and if the Saints want one, they will probably have their pick of the 4.

But that brings up another possibility. If the Saints like all four of those guys about the same, there's no sense in using such a high pick (and the concomitant dollars it requires) on a corner when they can trade down about 10 spots and likely still have 2 of the 4 guys still available. Who knows, they may even end up with the same guy at, say, #19 that they would have taken at #10, while picking up additional draft picks in the process.

Another possibility that has been discussed is to try to move up the draft to take Glenn Dorsey. They'd have to move up to at least #4, and even that might not be good enough.

Let me just say that I hate that idea, for several reasons:
  1. Top 5 picks cost a fortune in money and cap space. Having another top 5 pick on the team will tie up gobs of money on just two players: Reggie Bush and Glenn Dorsey.
  2. It will cost us at least our 2nd round pick and likely more. The "value chart" for draft picks is a bunch of hooey, and religious adherence to it has caused GMs to do crazy things, and it especially overvalues the first few picks in the draft. The value chart is what caused the Haslett-led Saints to trade two first round draft choices to move up a handful of spots to draft Jonathan Sullivan, who was a total bust (and incidentally is probably the #1 reason we need to draft a defensive tackle now).
  3. I'm not a big fan of drafting local legends. Sure, there can be a temporary boost in ticket sales and/or merchandising, but what happens if you need to bench, trade, or cut the local legend? Or what if he holds out? Or if he criticizes you in the media? Public. Relations. Nightmare.
  4. As much as I love Dorsey, his durability is a legitimate concern. To give up multiple draft picks and a lot of money/cap-space to get a guy with a fairly high likelihood of getting injured is just asking for trouble.
If the local legend is truly the best player on the board when you pick, go for it. If you have to pay a premium to get him, either in a too-high draft pick or in a trade, you're better off going in another direction.

I prefer to wait until the 10th pick, and if Sedrick Ellis is available, I take him. If he is not, I probably look to trade down. There are a few other potentially good defensive tackles who will be available in the late-first or early second, like Patrick Sims from Auburn, Kentwan Balmer from North Carolina, or Trevor Laws from Notre Dame. If the right deal is in place (like Dallas's two picks for our one), we can move down and pick up a corner, a tackle, and a linebacker with early picks and maximize our value. One of Talib, McKelvin, or Rogers-Cromartie is likely to be available at #22, and Balmer or Laws will be available at #28, or perhaps Jarod Mayo will be available. Or Curtis Lofton. There are lots of possibilities, all of them pretty good.

Crazy Idea of the Day: You want a crazy trade idea? One that has no chance in hell of actually happening? Here's what I do. I dangle Reggie Bush as trade bait. I'd offer him straight up to any team who comes on the board with Darren McFadden still available. I think McFadden is that good (and Bush that limited, for that matter). McFadden can do everything Bush can do (catch the ball, run outside the tackles, take it to the house in open space) but is a more complete running back, who could team with Deuce McAllister to extend both of their careers. I think McFadden is going to be the better pro, and (gasp!) would actually cost less money than Bush. What's more, I think there are teams that would go for it. I think the Raiders would go for it. I think the Falcons might go for it. The Raiders are fans of every crazy idea that some jacklegs suggests, and the Falcons can use help pretty everywhere, plus they need a draw. Plus, I really don't like Reggie Bush all that much.

I have no idea how such a cockamamie* plan would impact the salary cap, which has to be considered in any big deal you even think about. That's why I doubt it would ever happen. Plus, you know, it's kind of crazy.

Note: Would you believe me if I told you I managed to type out "cockamamie" on the first try without offending my browser's built-in spell-checker?


uberschuck said...

I like the cockamamie scheme. It reminds me that the sports pundits have been talking about McFadden as a troubled character with baggage that will drop his draft. Is this all because he got into a fight at a bar room? Get over it! This guy is a badass RB, and he's going to be a star. He's worth the risk that comes with a single arrest for a fight--not exactly unheard of among college punks.

Joshua said...

This is why your blog is an every day read for me. Great analysis and stuff I haven't thought of/looked at in a different way.

Richard Pittman said...

Thank you for the compliments. I appreciate them very much.

Actually, McFadden's "character" issues are a little more significant than that. He has a couple of paternity suits out there. Plus, his family is a freakin' nightmare. He has 7 brothers and sisters. Two of his brothers are in RIVAL gangs. They all smoke pot, including his mother.

None of these things are deal breakers for me, but I can see why GMs might be concerned. He's going to have a lot of money, and a lot of real losers around him.

gerry dorsey said...

not to nitpick, but i believe the brothers and sister number is more like 11 or 12. and the mom doesn't smoke pot...she smokes crack...seriously.