In the second half of our two part interview (the first part can be seen here), WWL 870 AM commentator and college football expert Mike Detillier delves into the expected competitive battle for roster spots in the team’s receiver corps, the potential impact of free agent acquisition Jared Cook as the starting tight end, and opines about the surprisingly low slot LSU cornerback Greedy Williams was selected in the draft.
SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t because he sat out the Fiesta Bowl.
8. One of the most talked about need positions in the draft for the Saints was at wide receiver. The team did not make a move with any of their selections in this area. Was this a case of them not seeing anyone they liked or do they have confidence in the talent they already have?
Obviously they feel strongly about Tre’Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood. They spent a lot of money to secure Cameron Meredith from the Chicago Bears and he did little last season after coming off a major knee injury. They need those guys to step up, no question.
But there is no clear cut #2 receiver on this team, other than say Ted Ginn, Jr. and he is getting up in age. The Saints are a better offense with Ginn in the lineup due to his speed and the threat of the “homerun” shot downfield. Smith is the key here. But Year 2 is normally the year you see WRs make their move upward. So they feel strong about Tre’Quan and also Keith Kirkwood. Meredith has to also make his presence felt and the Saints coaches feel as though he will be that big wideout playing in the slot that will make a difference and cause mismatches downfield.
I’m interested in Lil’Jordan Humphrey. He’s talented, no question about it. Humphrey is a big target end with size, he has a huge reach to grab passes outside his body radius and he caught 86 passes last year for Texas and 9 went for TD’s. But you also saw a player that at times sort of went through the motions, he was an inconsistent route runner and he was not the greatest downfield blocker.
If Curtis Johnson can press the right buttons on him you got something in Lil’Jordan. He returned kickoffs for the Longhorns, he ran the jet-sweep stuff for them and even threw the ball on gadget plays as a wide receiver. Sean Payton loves big receivers and Humphrey has that element along with very good pass catching skills.
9. While it is impossible to grade a draft on the front end, can you at least speculate as to whether the Saints did a sufficient enough job addressing their outstanding immediate needs in the 2019 NFL Draft?
I always look at it this way: are you better off today than you were when you ended the season?
TE Jared Cook is an upgrade. Cook is a good football player and a perfect fit for this offense. Yes, he’s 32 years old, but God has blessed him with tremendous athletic skills and he’s still got them. He had his best season in the NFL last year catching 68 passes for 896 yards on a bad Oakland team. If he’s in the 80-plus catch range that is what this football team needs.
Malcolm Brown is an upgrade at defensive tackle. He’s a huge man inside who stuffs the run and can push the inside pocket. Mario Edwards, Jr., is a hybrid defensive end/tackle. He has flashed it in the NFL and the key for him is keeping healthy.
And you have another year of development for Marcus Davenport at defensive end. Also the development of CBs in Eli Apple and P.J. Williams.
Max Unger will be hard to replace. He was one of the league’s best, but now you have a young center with talent in Erik McCoy and an experienced center/guard in Nick Easton.
At halfback Mark Ingram was a good football player and the team wanted him back, but things didn’t work out for his return. Latavius Murray is a tall, ride-high-in-the-saddle runner with very good foot speed and while he isn’t as good a receiver or pass blocker as Ingram, he’s pretty good at both.
I like the upgrades at safety in Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and also Rutgers safety Saquan Hampton. Both versatile players at safety and can help on special teams.
And also the upgrade the Saints made in adding a punt returner in Marcus Sherels from the Minnesota Vikings. He’s the most gifted punt returner the team has had since Darren Sproles. He’s still very fast, has a way to make the first man miss and he’s had 5 punt returns for TD’s.
Now losing Ingram and Watson in the locker room will be hard to replace due to their leadership skills, but this team is better off today than when they finished the season.
I hear it a lot that fans will say “I want my team back next year”. Ok, that’s nice, but it never happens. You never stay the same. Either you get better or you get worse.
The most important thing is that the Saints are in the hunt again to make it deep into the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
10. Which of the undrafted free agent signees do you think have a good shot at making the 53-man roster?
I like Nebraska’s Devin Ozigbo at halfback. He averaged 7 yards a rush last year and he’s a good receiver coming out of the backfield and we spoke about Lil’Jordan Humphrey as a prospect at wide receiver.
The two free agent outside linebackers with injury concerns in Chase Hansen from Utah and also USC’s Porter Gustin. Both were very productive college players, but injuries are the reason they didn’t get picked.
Another guy to watch is deep-snapper Nick Moore from Georgia. Moore was a former major league baseball player with the Boston Red Sox and then returned to college and became an excellent deep-snapper for the Bulldogs.
11. LSU cornerback Greedy Williams ended up being selected in the second round and not the first. Do you think his decision to skip out on the Fiesta Bowl cost him draft status and money?
Ohio State’s Nick Bosa played just a handful of games at Ohio State and he went with the 2nd overall pick. Quarterback Drew Lock returned for his senior season at Missouri, played in the bowl game and went to the Senior Bowl and he fell into Round 2. Cornerback DeAndre Baker from Georgia did not play in the 2019 Sugar Bowl and he went in Round 1.
Here’s what cost Greedy: his agent team should have had him making the trips to visit NFL teams. He went to zero visits. Now, that all boils down to Greedy making that final choice, but that was not good advice. But not playing in the bowl game is not the reason he fell to the second round. He didn’t win the post-season, bottom line.
Greedy has to check his ego at the door and just go out and play like we have seen him play at LSU. He’s a ballhawk and he’s an excellent man to man cover guy. Yes, he needs to physically get stronger and upgrade his open-field tackling skills, but he’s one hell of a cover guy. The Browns got a really good player in Greedy Williams.
In the NFL you just never have a blueprint that is set and secures that first round pick status. And there are a lot of different opinions in NFL circles. Now, when there is a mistake it’s always someone else’s fault and I was in their corner, but that’s the league today and to be honest always has been.