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News » Loomis isn't shy with draft trading

Loomis isn't shy with draft trading

Loomis isn't shy with draft trading
Since assuming control of his team's choices in the NFL draft, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has not been bashful to make a deal, signing off on 13 trades during the past six years.

Don't be surprised if that number increases this weekend when Trader Mick, Saints Coach Sean Payton and their pack of scouts try to turn a four-pack of bottled water into a barrel of fine wine.

The Saints have four picks -- one in the first round (14 overall), two in the fourth (116, 118) and one in the seventh (222).

It seems unlikely that Loomis will be able to move up in the first round because the team is player rich and draft-pick poor after a busy 2008. During that offseason, he traded for tight end Jeremy Shockey (from the Giants) and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (from the Jets) and acquired a pick from Green Bay to select wide receiver Adrian Arrington in the seventh round.

Those three transactions cost the Saints second-, third-, fifth- and sixth-round picks in this year's draft, leaving Loomis with two likely options in the first round: He can stand pat at 14 and take the best player available to address a need (perhaps Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins if he is available), or trade back to acquire additional picks.

"We don't have a lot of bullets in our gun in terms of draft picks, but we could talk about players or future picks," Loomis said. "And that's a little more difficult to do. But I suspect we'll have an opportunity or two (to move back).

"But it's a crapshoot. It's difficult."

Asked if any current players are off limits as trade bait, Loomis replied: "We're not trading Drew Brees, if that's what you're asking me."

At first blush, trading down sounds simple enough. But in reality, it isn't. First, the Saints will need a willing partner, another team that is eager to pay the going freight to move up to 14. According to a value chart obtained by The Times-Picayune, the 14th pick is worth 1,100 points, meaning the "other" team, theoretically, must produce a trade package that fulfills or comes close to hitting that assessed value -- probably first- and third- or fourth-round picks.

There are other dynamics involved when trying to consummate a deal in the first round. Loomis has engineered three first-round deals, moving up to acquire defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (2008), tackle Jammal Brown ('05) and defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan ('03).

Brown's overall performance has validated the trade. The jury is still out on Ellis, and Sullivan (Loomis' first pick overseeing the draft) turned out to be a 14-carat bust.

"When you're making a decision to trade back in the first round, you're usually trading back for one reason," said NFL Network analyst Charlie Casserly, a longtime NFL general manager who orchestrated the blockbuster Ricky Williams trade with the Saints for the Washington Redskins in 1999. "You feel there are a number of players who are going to be available to you if you do move back with that particular round value as compensation."

Carl Peterson, former president/CEO/general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, described making trades in the first round as an "art" and acknowledged it is filled with potential booby traps.

Peterson cited two memorable first-round trades with the Chiefs when he maneuvered up to acquire tight end Tony Gonzalez (from 18 to 13 in a trade with Houston in 1997) and moved back to get running back Larry Johnson (from 16 to 27 in a trade with Pittsburgh in 2003).

"It's always easy for sports columnists or radio sports talk show hosts to say, 'Why don't they just trade down or trade up?' " Peterson said. "But you've got to have a partner. That is always key.

"You have to try to anticipate who might be there when you trade back. But you certainly don't have any guarantees because the guy you traded back for could be taken with the next pick. So you have to have a bullpen ready -- just like you do with your original pick -- with other players in mind at positions of need."

The late Bill Walsh was regarded as one of the best drafty-day wheeler-dealers. In 1986, the San Francisco 49ers were slated to pick 18th in the first round. Four trades later, Walsh and the 49ers had dropped to the second round with the 39th pick overall and a handful of additional draft picks.

"He had teams wondering if we'd ever pick," said Mike Lombardi, a 22-year veteran of NFL personnel departments, including the Raiders, Browns, Broncos, Eagles and 49ers.

"A lot of it is luck because you have to be in the right place at the right time, and there has to be a player on the board who people are coveting. For example, if there was an offensive tackle who happened to make it to the Saints at the 14th spot that people didn't anticipate falling there, then somebody from the back of the pack might want to get up there and get him.

"It takes something unique to happen in the draft that you really can't predict where it can come from."

Of the four top-rated offensive tackles, Michael Oher of Ole Miss possibly could slide to the Saints. Another wild card is thought to be quarterback Josh Freeman of Kansas State, who might draw some action from picks 11 to 20, especially if both top-rated quarterbacks -- Matthew Stafford of Georgia and Mark Sanchez of Southern Cal -- are gone, as expected.

"The only reason that teams come up is for a specific player," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "I think it'll be the second (Sanchez) or third quarterback (Freeman). It's the fourth offensive tackle (Oher) or if a player like (outside linebacker) Aaron Curry or (wide receiver) Michael Crabtree would slide into that seven, eight or nine range, then I think you're going to see a flurry of activity."

So where does that leave the Saints at 14?

"Unless a team is excited about a quarterback, that might be the only thing that people might want to trade up for in the middle third of this draft," Casserly said.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 24, 2009

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