In the second part of the interview with college football expert and NFL draft authority Mike Detillier (see Part One here), we asked the WWL 870 AM commentator about where he saw the New Orleans Saints going in the first round, running back Chris Ivory’s future with the Black and Gold and the team’s priority areas to be addressed in the 2013 draft.
As always I am grateful for Mr. Detillier’s time and for sharing his wealth of knowledge about the most exciting week of the NFL without a game.
1. If Barkevious Mingo is off the board but Jarvis Jones is available, should the Saints select the Georgia linebacker and how much of a concern is his neck condition?
I really think Jarvis might be the guy for them. He has watched Mingo, Ezekiel Ansah and Dion Jordan just pass him up like he was going 30 miles per hour in a 60 miles per hour zone due to the off-season workouts though Jones has been the most dominant defensive player in the toughest conference in college football the last two seasons.
His neck is OK; it has been the workouts that have dropped him. I wouldn’t hesitate a second to pick him.
2. I have been hoping that the Saints would upgrade their linebacker corps through the draft since 2009 when the Saints passed on both Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews. Is this the year they finally use their first round pick to strengthen the linebacker position?
They need to. There is no sure thing with Martez Wilson, Junior Gallette or Victor Butler. This team needs to upgrade their pass rush first and foremost and it is not about scheme, but all about getting better talent and using it correctly on defense.
3. Is the position of outside linebacker still a priority for the Saints when taking into account that defensive ends Junior Gallette and Martez Wilson are being shifted to outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme?
Yes, it is priority, but I do think the change will help bring out the best in both Gallette and Wilson as players. They are best suited to play the 3-4 than at defensive end in a 4-3. Especially in the case of Junior. He looks like a natural as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
4. Jumping back to the subject of the 2009 NFL draft the Saints picked Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins in the first round. The Jenkins selection came with an expensive opportunity cost when considering what the front office passed up on. With Jenkins not having emerged as an elite defensive back and with his contract up at the end of this season, should the Saints address an upgrade and probable successor to Jenkins as free safety?
The Saints have no big-time playmakers at the safety spot. Jenkins has made some big plays on hustle and he is a good athlete, but he is not a strong openfield tackler and he doesn’t have great ball skills. Darren Sharper was special because of his ball skills. It’s an easy question to answer, Yes, they need help at both safety spots because now the league has turned into such a pitch and catch game and the Saints don’t match up well against teams with athletic tight ends and they can’t come up with big turnovers during crucial spots in a game.
5. You projected that the Saints will pick Fresno State free safety Phillip Thomas in the third round with the 75th overall selection. Do you think Thomas will remain on the board that long and would it be wiser for the Saints to make a play for securing a second round pick to ensure his selection?
Well, I think he will still be there in Round Three. Now, he is a ballhawk and he has excellent hands. I like him a lot and he has good matchup coverage skills. People didn’t get to see him play a lot at Fresno State, but he has excellent football instincts and a knack for tracking the ball in flight. He needs to get stronger and upgrade his tacking skills.
6. With Chase Daniel’s departure as a free agent to Kansas City, the back up spot to Drew Brees has become a concern for the Saints. Though the team has signed Seneca Wallace and Luke McCown and head coach Sean Payton’s track record of keeping no more than three quarterbacks on the roster, do you see the Saints using one of their limited selections on a quarterback?
Yes, I see them using a late round pick on a quarterback, possibly Ryan Griffin from Tulane. I have written for months that he would be a great fit,. The team should know plenty about him and he was coached by a former Saints assistant in Curtis Johnson at Tulane. He has a strong arm, he has good mobility skills and very good leadership skills. The problem at Tulane was protecting him. They couldn’t do that part very well.
7. How big of handicap is going into the 2013 NFL draft without a second round selection?
It’s awful. Losing Sean Payton was a one-year major hurt, but losing two second round picks are long range hurts. Those premium picks are just a big dent to this team to try and piece together a respectable defense because you are talented enough offensively to get back to the Super Bowl.
8. Do you believe General Manager Mickey Loomis is going to make a trade to add selections by either moving players out or trading down?
I think he would like to, but you won’t know that part until draft day. But to answer the question I would say yes. I think he tries to maneuver to acquire extra picks.
9. Do you see running back Chris Ivory returning to the team or is his second round tender too steep of a price for an interested team to digest?
A second round pick was way too steep, but a fourth rounder makes sense. Ivory will not return to this team in 2014 when his contract comes up and so get some value for him and to be honest the Saints have done a great job finding free agent halfbacks like Pierre Thomas, Ivory and Travaris Cadet last season.
10. Behind linebacker, what would you say is the next greatest “need position” for the Saints?
Other than a pass rush, the biggest need is to find a couple of ballhawks for the secondary at cornerback and at safety. I also see them adding a wide receiver in the middle rounds.
11. Longtime Saints defensive end Will Smith, the lone player left on the roster from the Jim Haslett era, agreed to a renegotiated deal to stay with the Saints. Though Smith has gotten relatively cheaper for the team’s tight salary cap position, the big defensive end isn’t getting any younger. Do you see the Saints using one of their early selections on grooming a potential successor to Smith?
I could see that, but I am intrigued on what they do with Akiem Hicks, using him at both the nosetackle slot and at defensive end. I think he is the key upfront. He has unlimited talent and I think it is more at defensive end and teaming him up with Cameron Jordan makes a lot of sense for this team in the future.
12. A week ago there was talk that the Saints might use their first round selection on a wide receiver. Do you think that would be a wise move considering the defensive squad’s historically awful performance last season?
I see them using a middle round pick on a wide receiver. The talk of picking a wide receiver has all to do with trying to get teams to trade up to get one of them.