In the second part of the interview with college football analyst and WWL 870 AM contributor Mike Detillier, the NFL Draft guru shares where he thinks the Saints’ front office is going with their two first round selections, how serious the team is at taking a quarterback, where the talent pool is deep in this draft and which LSU players are likely to go early. For the first part of the interview, click here.
1) The Saints have not drafted a linebacker in the first round since 1995- will this finally be the year they pursue one?
No question and if the right one is there they use their top pick on an outside linebacker.
2) The Saints receiver corps has been greatly diminished with the Graham and Kenny Stills trades. At what point in the draft do you see them going after a wide out?
I believe that they will use either their late 1st or early 2nd round pick on a wide receiver. Guys like Phillip Dorsett-Miami (Fla.), Devin Smith-Ohio State or Nelson Agholor-USC would fit in well with the Saints with an early round pick. As a 3rd round pick I really like Tre McBride from William & Mary. But this team hit on Kenny Stills-who was a 5th round pick and Marques Colston was a 7th round pick.
13) Will this be the year the Saints pursue a successor to Drew Brees or will they just look for an upgrade at the backup spot?
Depends on what is available. But this team has a lot of needs and a back-up QB. to hold a clipboard for a few years is a want, not a need.
14) Do you see the Saints standing pat with their two first round draft picks or will they trade up to acquire a higher caliber player or drop back to secure extra picks?
I think they will be aggressive and I see them trading up and trading back in this draft with early round picks. They have ammo and they will shuffle the football cards around pretty good with those early round choices.
15) In what area is the 2015 NFL Draft particularly deep?
It is not as strong as last year, but still very strong at wide receiver. There are a good group of edge pass rushers, but a couple already have self-inflicted wounds with problems off the field in Shane Ray and Randy Gregory. Good group of halfbacks and also offensive guards.
16) Head coach Sean Payton has been singing the praises of tight end Josh Hill, though he is no Jimmy Graham. Will the Saints use one of their early round picks to grab a tight end or do the Saints really have that much confidence in Hill?
I think Sean Payton really likes Josh Hill and Ben Watson, but I still see them using a draft choice on a tight end. I like Josh a lot, but I am interested to see how teams (begin to plan around him) and how he reacts once teams start concentrating on him as a starter from a coverage standpoint. Pardon the pun but it’s going to be a different ballgame, but I like his potential. I still think they will pick a tight end fairly early. Sean Payton likes that size mismatch downfield with a big target tight end.
17) LSU has developed the reputation as a great springboard for the NFL. Which LSU players do you see going in the first three rounds of the draft?
La’el Collins is one of the most dominant players I have covered in over 25 years at LSU. He will become the highest drafted LSU offensive lineman ever. He is a teens pick in Round One.
Jalen Collins had a terrific season at LSU even though he was not the projected starter at cornerback to start the season, but with Rashard Robinson getting in trouble he stepped right in and he was outstanding. Now, it has been revealed he failed two drug tests at LSU, but he is talented, has excellent size, long arms and good recovery speed. Very good “press” cover cornerback. He played Alabama’s Amari Cooper as well as anyone. I still think despite his off-field issues he is a late 1st or very early 2nd round choice.
Danielle Hunter is the potential guy. He looks the part. He is long, lean, outstanding athlete and he can run the field well from sideline to sideline. But he never developed as a top pass rusher at LSU. He doesn’t use his hands well and he is not a good leverage player when trying to get around a blocker to get pressure. But potential pass rushers are a premium. He goes middle to late in Round 2. When Hunter gets picked he will extend the streak and it will be the 12th straight year a defensive lineman from LSU gets drafted. No team in college football is close to that number.
Kwon Alexander stayed healthy and really played well last season at OLB.. He is smart, quick, excellent lateral skills and he can throw that body quickly in reverse. Just a great athlete and he hits with a thud. Perfect 4-3 weakside linebacker and some teams think he could add some weight and bulk strength and play inside in a 3-4 defense. 3rd round pick..
18) Do you see any big surprise moves the Saints might make on any of the three draft days?
I think they will be very aggressive and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints try and move OLB. Junior Galette, if possible. They need a repeat of 2006 on draft day when they got Reggie Bush, Roman Harper, Jahri Evans, Marques Colston and Zach Strief. They got Rob Ninkovich too, but he never played much here, but he has in New England. They also made draft day trades to acquire OC. Jeff Faine and DT. Hollis Thomas. It is a crossroads draft for the Saints and they need to hit big.
19) Who are the best players in this draft class on offense and defense?
On defense USC DT. Leonard Williams is not only the best defensive player, but the best player in this class. He has a chance to be a dominant guy inside like what he have seen from J.J. Watt, Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh.
Offensively it is Alabama WR. Amari Cooper. Silky-smooth end, sure-handed, great set-up wide receiver. to get separation and he is a 1st rate route runner.