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New Orleans Saints News



After months of hype, rumors and rampant speculation, the annual rite of passage is at hand for unproven college Football players to become instant millionaires and potential franchise saviors before breaking a sweat for their new teams.

quot;I call the NFL draft 'Christmas in the spring,' quot; said Carl Peterson, the former Chiefs president/CEO/general manager. quot;It's a time when every single team is able to rejuvenate itself and acquire fresh, young blood and get excited about the potential of the future.

quot;It literally is a very unique aspect of the NFL.quot;

Call it what you will, the draft will commence at 3 p.m. today from Radio Music City Hall in downtown New York City. The Saints are picking 14th in the first round, if team officials don't trade up or back.

Barring a move, the Saints are expected to make the first of their four pre-determined selections shortly after 5 p.m.

quot;I think we're in a good spot at 14, and we'll get a player (who) can contribute to our team,quot; Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said.

Hope springs eternal for Loomis and 31 other NFL general managers, whose scouting departments have tried to prepare for any and all scenarios that come their way today and Sunday. Loomis said he, Coach Sean Payton and the team's scouting department, led by Rick Reiprish (college director) and Ryan Pace (pro director), have done their due diligence in preparation for what amounts to 25 minutes on the clock.

Teams have 10 minutes between picks in the first round, seven minutes between picks in the second round and five minutes between picks in rounds three through seven. The Saints also own two picks in the fourth round (Nos. 116 and 118 overall) and one pick in the seventh round (No. 222 overall).

quot;We're pretty thorough with every player that we consider draft-eligible,quot; Loomis said. quot;Obviously, we narrow that down to the guys that we're interested in. Ultimately, that number probably ends up at about 200 we have to focus on, and then we pare it down even farther.

quot;I wouldn't say that there's been a greater emphasis because we don't have a second- or third-round pick. We might acquire one, so we have to be pretty diligent about what's on that board.quot;

That is something they have little control over, which is why Loomis said his team of analysts try not to leave quot;any stone unturned.quot;

quot;When you're picking at 14, you don't know who the guys that are going to be available to you are,quot; Loomis said. quot;But obviously there's a group of guys who we think could get to us, and we have talked about each one of them and what they would bring to the table for the Saints.

quot;The good news is that there are a number of players who we feel can help us at a number of positions. So if we pick at 14, I know we're going to get a good player there.quot;

That quot;good playerquot; might be Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, the consensus No. 1 corner in the draft who some analysts say could develop into a future Pro Bowl safety. He would address an area of the defense that team officials targeted going into the offseason and join two free agent acquisitions, cornerback Jabari Greer and safety Darren Sharper.

quot;Jenkins is really a good Football player,quot; NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. quot;His 40 time has some merit regarding certain schemes in the NFL. Some teams have him as their No. 1 free safety, other teams have him as their first or second corner. He could go as early as No. 5 to Cleveland.

quot;He'd be a logical pick for the Saints because they have both a corner and a safety need. But if he doesn't go at 5, I think New Orleans at 14 is certainly a possibility. (Connecticut cornerback) Darius Butler is one of the fastest risers in the draft, and I think he'll go 11 to 20. (Illinois cornerback) Vontae Davis is the most talented corner, but I think he's going to slide because of off-the-field issues. So either Jenkins or Butler will go first in my opinion.quot;

Other potential quot;good playersquot; are running backs Knowshon Moreno of Georgia and Chris Wells of Ohio State. Numerous mock drafts have Wells going to the Saints at No. 14 to fill the void created by the release of big back Deuce McAllister.

Loomis neither acknowledged nor denied interest in either player.

quot;I think at any position including running back, if we feel like there's a player that can help our team more than any other player we're looking at, we're going to consider that,quot; he said. quot;It happened pretty clearly when Deuce was drafted (in the first round in 2001) and Ricky Williams was on our team.quot;

Mike Lombardi, a 22-year veteran of NFL personnel departments and columnist for si.com, said teams that don't want to invest a first-round pick on a running back should be able to find a quality player at that position in the later rounds, including Liberty's Rashad Jennings (6 feet 1, 231 pounds).

Other players that might be of interest to the Saints at No. 14 are Southern Cal outside linebackers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews, Penn State defensive end/outside linebacker Aaron Maybin and Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers, among others.

Then again, only Saints officials truly know where there interest lies.

quot;Teams put out as much smoke as they can put out there because they want to make sure that no one is quite, quite sure what they're going to do,quot; Peterson said. quot;But the other part of it is they don't know what they're going to do, either.quot;

MOORE, EVANS SIGN DEALS: Saints wide receiver Lance Moore and guard Jahri Evans have signed their tendered one-year contract offers, General Manager Mickey Loomis said Friday.

Evans agreed to a one-year, $2.792 million contract and Moore a one-year deal worth $1.545 million. Both were restricted free agents.

Two other former restricted free agents -- tackle Zach Strief and cornerback Leigh Torrence -- have not signed their tendered one-year offers of $1.542 million and $1.01 million, respectively.

In other developments, Saints free safety Darren Sharper finally has claimed a jersey number. He will wear No. 42, a number that originally belonged to cornerback Jason David.

David will now wear No. 29. Sharper wore No. 42 for Minnesota.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 25, 2009

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John Beck Name: John Beck
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College: Brigham Young
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