It’s NFL Draft Day and the New Orleans Saints, sans Sean Payton, go into Day One with a pair of First Round picks. WWL 870 AM sports talk host and NFL Draft expert Mike Detillier addresses where he thinks Airline Drive will spend those two selections, what the Black and Gold’s most outstanding needs are, Sean Payton’s future, Watsonmania, and a number of other topics related to the the three days that can determine the future fortunes of a pro football franchise.
MB: Let’s start with the most basic question: as the Saints stand now, what are their most important position needs to be addressed in the draft?
MD: The Saints have to get an offensive tackle, a “speed” wide receiver, and a safety. Depth needs to be added also at halfback, guard, tight end. and defensive tackle.
MB: What’s your take on the monster draft pick swap with the Eagles? It seems the Saints are playing very heavy in the 2022 NFL Draft?
MD: Initially, and I still think this way, it was about acquiring an extra pick to address either the offensive tackle or wide receiver needs. Or they could be looking to bundle some picks to land a top rated player, specifically an offensive tackle.
My take us this team has multiple needs and I would want to keep those picks but, in the long run no matter how many picks you’ve got to hit on those picks with top players.
Having picks are great but you have to score on those selections.
MB: Do you think part of their motivation is that they’ll replenish some of the selections in 2023 through player trades or perhaps a certain former employee on Airline Drive might all of a sudden come out of retirement to work in a new city thus leading to some significant compensation?
MD: No question. The Saints organization knows better than any of us about Sean Payton’s story.
I have always felt strongly he does TV for a year and then he’s back coaching and the team gets compensation for him to go to another team.
MB: Has General Manger Mickey Loomis made adequate moves in free agency to fill some of the gaps the team has?
MD: There are still major holes here offensively for the Saints.
Now, can you address them after the draft with a wide out like Jarvis Landry or do you go with younger players via the draft?
I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a mix of draft choices and veteran free agents.
MB: Which LSU players do you see moving off the board in the first round?
MD: Only one, cornerback Derek Stingley. He will be a top 12 pick.
Had he been healthy you could make a strong argument Stingley’s the best player in this draft, but the defensive back had two years of injuries and it affected his play.
It cannot be stressed enough: availability is key.
MB: .Let’s jump back a bit on the drama that seemed to overshadow three of the four teams in the NFC South: Deshaun Watson. The Saints, Falcons, and Panthers all seemed very interested in trading for him but in the end, none of the three teams landed the quarterback. Do you feel the Saints were better off coming up short in the Watson bidding war?
MD: Let’s be honest the Saints were in with both feet to acquire DeShaun Watson.
They were fighting it out with the Falcons and then the Browns threw down that “guaranteed” contract deal.
No one is questioning his talent, but you also must be ready for the scrutiny the allegations will throw on a franchise and they won’t go away.
Cleveland was willing to do it, but honestly so were the Falcons and Mrs Benson and the Saints.
MB: Would you say the biggest loser in this was the Atlanta Falcons? It kind of played out as the second coming of 28-3.
MD: I guess you could put it that way. It’s a crucial year for the ATL in rebuilding with very little cap room and then they deal off Matt Ryan and don’t land Watson either.
MB: How much confidence do you have in Jameis Winston being able to carry the offense in 2022?
MD: You can’t put him back out on the field with the same weapons and think things will change.
You have to upgrade the receiver position and get better upfront on the line. Give Jameis a fighting chance and better offensive options. If Michael Thomas is back healthy, then he’s a game-changer.
But add a veteran wide receiver and draft one early too.
Also get him some help at tight end even though Taysom Hill will play there and bring on board
a “ thumper” at halfback to help out Alvin Kamara.
MB: Who do you project the Saints selecting in the first round?
MD: Offensive Tackle Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa and wide receiver Chris Olave.
MB: Who do you believe will be the first player off the board?
MD: Defensive Lineman Travon Walker from Georgia.
MB: All good things must come to an end and 2022 will mark the first time in a while without your NFL Draft book, the most comprehensive breakdown on paper I’ve seen on the subject matter. What led to your decision to finally move on from this project?
MD: Mike 36 years was a good ride.
I made up my mind last spring after the draft. I had opportunities in other fields, spending more time in the investment world, being on WWL Radio fulltime, and taking a few spots on some company boards.
I do miss some elements and I have heard some really nice and sweet comments about how much the book meant to others.
It really touched my heart.
But you know Mike as well as anyone the time and efforts to get in to book form , deal with printers and mail outs. There’s just not enough digits on the play click sort to speak.
Simply out, it was time.
That said, I’m very thankful and grateful to the many folks who helped support my venture all those years.