NEW ORLEANS -- Another Saints draft down, 10 observations to go.
1. Grade: Rock solid B.
-- Reduced to a 5-pick draw, team officials seemed to meet their most pressing needs, particularly on defense, where they added a safety (Kenny Vaccaro, No. 15), nose tackle (John Jenkins, No. 82) and end/outside linebacker (Rufus Johnson, No. 183). On offense, they addressed the left tackle position (Terron Armstead, No. 75) and added a wide receiver (Kenny Stills Jr., No. 144) for good measure. Why not? Sean Payton and Drew Brees can never have enough play toys.
2. Trader Mick strikes again.
-- GM Mickey Loomis sent oft-injured running back Chris Ivory to the New York Jets for a fourth-round pick (No. 106). By doing so, the Saints took relief from Ivory's $2.023 million base salary and an injury waiting to happen. Then, they packaged that pick with their own fourth rounder (No. 109) and worked a deal with Miami to move into the third round and snatch up Jenkins. Let's hope JJ doesn't follow the lead of two 'Bama busts (DT Kenny Smith, D3-b, 2001; DT Johnathan Sullivan, D1, 2003) and brings more to the field and locker room than enigmatic Bulldogs' DT Charles Grant (D1-b, 2002).
3. Second-guessing time.
-- By taking Vaccaro at No. 15, that tells me Payton and first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan must feel comfortable with their current crop of pass-rushing outside linebackers as they transition to the 3-4 -- Junior Galette, Martez Wilson, newly-acquired Victor Butler and Jonathan Vilma, among others. Are you?
4. Inside information?
-- The Saints passed on Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones, among others, at No. 15. That does not imply that he even was a consideration, or in the team's "cloud'' of potential draftees. If that is true, why wasn't Jones a consideration? Perhaps because Payton got keen insights from Bulldogs' defensive coordinator Todd Grantham during his job interview. Grantham probably provided detailed scouting reports on Jones, Jenkins and Bulldogs' LB Alec Ogletree (No. 30, St. Louis).
5. Lightning in a bottle?
-- Armstead is an intriguing prospect; an athletic freak. Some rating services had him with a second-round grade. He is listed at 6-5, 304, and moves like a gazelle. An eight-time SWAC shot put champion at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, he probably could compete well in the decathlon. He recorded the fastest 40 time (4.71 seconds) ever at the combine for an offensive lineman. I do wonder about the caliber of competition he faced in college. That said, Loomis and Payton have done well with these under-the-radar type players (WR Marques Colston, RB Pierre Thomas, RT Zach Strief, TE Jimmy Graham, DT Akiem Hicks). Based on the depth chart at LT (Charles Brown, Jason Smith) Armstead certainly will be given every chance to succeed.
6. Ready, set, go!
-- Early on in the Saints' offseason program, I'd like to see a 40-yard race between Armstead and Vaccaro, who ran a very pedestrian 40-yard dash for a safety at the combine (4.59). By comparison, former LSU safety Eric Reid (No. 18, San Francisco) ran 4.49 at the combine. My bet is Armstead would give Vaccaro a run for his money.
7. Versatile Vaccaro provides flexibility
-- Rob Ryan might end up playing a game called "Find Kenny'' this season. At Texas, Vaccaro played free and strong safety, strong and weakside linebacker and can play in the nickel package in coverage against slot receivers. My question is who has more body paint? Jeremy Shockey or Vaccaro? As long as Vaccaro tattoos the opposition, who cares, right?
8. Brewing quarterback controversy
-- Now that Chase Daniel has split for greener pastures with Kansas City, the race to become Drew Brees' understudy is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing topics at training camp. Rookie free agent Ryan Griffin of Tulane has joined the mix with veterans Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace. My initial thought is Griffin will have a hard time winning the No. 2 job because of his inexperience, but he's certainly a better prospect than former practice squad QB Sean Canfield. If not in New Orleans, Griffin could make some team's 53-man roster this season. Ask Tulane coach and former Saints assistant Curtis Johnson.
9. The more, the merrier
-- With veteran Devery Henderson's career likely over in New Orleans, the job as the No. 3 wide receiver appears to be Joe Morgan's to lose. Fourth-round draft pick Kenny Stills (No. 144) joins the fray with Nick Toon, a fourth-round pick in 2012 who missed the entire season after undergoing foot surgery. Toon and Stills are the sons of former NFL players Al Toon and Ken Stills.
10. Keep proper perspective
-- Before anyone in Who Dat Nation pencils the Saints in for Super Bowl XLVIII, remember the draft is an inexact science. None of the five picks has dropped a bead of NFL sweat yet. Each has potential. And, in the immortal words of Jim Mora, "potential don't mean ...."
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