In the second part of the New Orleans Saints’ bye week interview with college football expert and WWL 870 AM commentator Mike Detillier, the NFL draft guru offers his take on why quarterback Drew Brees has not stretched the field as much this season, why speedy wide receiver Joe Morgan has been “MIA”, grades the Saints’ 2014 draft class and talks some college football, including the rise of Mississippi State.
After solving the Saints’ secondary issues in 2009 it seems the Saints are back to square one. Are Corey White and Patrick Robinson really the best options the Saints have or should the team go trawling for replacements sooner than later?
There is no football Rouse’s or Wal Mart. You got what you got. Corey White is a nickel back in the NFL, not a starter. Patrick Robinson has been a huge disappointment. He has excellent athletic skills, but he doesn’t have real good ball skills and one bad play affects the next. Stanley Jean Baptiste is just not ready for primetime. That is a huge hole and that has to be one of the two major “need” areas to address in 2015. You got what you got.
The Saints seem to have had bad luck in free agency, having lost linebacker Victor Butler before he ever saw the field and now expensive free safety Jairus Byrd is lost for the season. In his limited time with the team, Byrd did not seem to have the immediate impact in the passing game that Darren Sharper did. Why?
Victor just could not stay healthy. First the knee and then the lower leg injury. That move just didn’t work out for the Saints. He was a guy Rob Ryan really wanted on this team, but he never came around once the injuries started to knock him down. Major loss for the Saints and that OLB spot has to be either #1 or #2 behind cornerback to fill in the 2015 draft.
With Byrd it deals with his health, pure and simple. He is still a really good player, but there is no such thing as minor back surgery. He was never healthy once he hit the field after the surgery and then has the knee injury. I know Byrd can play and play at a high level, if healthy.
Why has deep threat wide out Joe Morgan not been utilized much this season?
I don’t really know about that. He looked good in the preseason and then we have not seen him. That surprises me a lot. He really stretched the field in the preseason and then he is now in the football witness protection program. He needs to get on the field. This team’s wideouts have had way too way drops this season and I would love to see Joe Morgan have playing time.
Quarterback Drew Brees has not had a good season and a lot of folks have taken note that he has really not gone deep this season. And a few people, to number Nine’s great irritation, have speculated that he is on the decline. Is Brees lingering from the injury that kept him out of the first part of preseason or is that window of opportunity to win another Super Bowl with Brees under center simply closing sooner than we hoped/expected?
We got spoiled. Drew is still a signature player in the NFL, no doubt, but the Saints O-line has not protected him well and he has pressed at times. Also we have seen a lot more drops than ever before. Drew has never been a great deep ball passer. Go back to when Devery Henderson was here- many times Henderson would have slow down to make a catch deep.
I am convinced the oblique injury has affected his passing skills. On the longer throws especially when your body is torqued. Saints have run the ball pretty well this season and they need to do that more to keep him healthy and not put as much burden on him and the Defense has given up a ton of big plays and can’t get off the field on 3rd down.
Quarterbacks get way too much credit when a team wins and way too much blame when they lose. Drew didn’t play well against Tampa Bay, but at the end he made plays to get them a W, but the Saints need to run the ball better, protect him better and use Brandin Cooks more in the medium part of the game instead of all these WR-bubble screen plays.
Drew is still one of the elite players in the NFL but I think that oblique injury has affected his play. He just will never say it.
How would you rate the Saints’ 2014 draft class thus far?
Incomplete. You have project players in OLB Ronald Powell and CB Stanley Jean Baptiste.
Attitude got Khairi Fortt cut from the Saints, but that was a big miss on him and Vinnie Sunseri is a special teams guy.
All of us thought Brandin Cooks would have a bigger impact. He just hasn’t hit on any big plays, other than in the Falcons game and he was a huge part of that gameplan in Week #1.
Speaking of the Saints’ first round draft pick from 2014, where are the deeper passes with Cooks?
I do know he has figured out that in the NFL they hit a lot harder than they do when he played Washington State or California in the PAC-12. He hits the turf fast and he has not been a good downfield blocker at all. But his strength is his ability to hit the big play and run after catch ability. We haven’t seen much of that. Sean Payton has to stretch the field with him more. But I still really like Cooks a lot as a player and he will develop into a big-play element in the NFL. He has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but he is a really good player.
More Saints fans are thinking about what the team will do with what at this rate will be an early first round draft pick than the Saints bringing home another Lombardi Trophy. Though there’s a lot of football yet the play, what area should the Saints use their first pick in the 2015 draft?
Painfully easy: cornerback and outside linebacker. Priority #1 and #2 and in the third spot would be inside linebacker. The team thought Khairi Fortt could eventually be a starter, but that won’t happen. Defense, defense, defense.
Before the season started you said and wrote that Ole Miss and Mississippi State were going to be outstanding this season and that this was a retooling year at LSU. You really called that one.
Thanks. Ole Miss and Mississippi State have depth and talent along the defensive line and at linebacker and they are getting great play from Dak Prescott and Bo Wallace at quarterback. They are legit. To win at any level you have to have really good quarterback play and a strong defensive line. That has worked for both Mississippi schools.
That is the reason I really felt strongly that LSU would be retooling. They are not strong upfront defensively, especially right up the middle and it is QB. juggling 101 on the Tiger team. Leonard Fournette is starting to hit his stride as a runner, I really think so much of WR. Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre is going to be the next A.J. Green. Offensive line play has to continue to improve. On defense, OLB. Kwon Alexander has really played well.
The Egg Bowl is really shaping up to be a special game and both teams are for real. Great job recruiting and developing the talent for Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen.
Before the season started you told me that you wouldn’t touch Florida State QB. Jaemis Winston as an early round pick. Do you still feel that way?
That hasn’t changed. At that position of trust he has just done way too many immature and irrational things knowing what is on the line for him. I would not use a 1st or 2nd round pick on him. He is a talented passer and a leader on the field, no question, but it is a matter of trust at the most critical position on the field. But in the NFL it is not like running for the Senate or for President. It just takes one team to take a shot at him, but it has negatively affected his draft status and everyday there seems to be something else popping up. In 2015 the draft will be dominated by offensive linemen. There are a ton of really good prospects there. On Winston I wouldn’t invest a 1st or 2nd round pick on him. It’s a matter of character at this point.