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News » New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-04-27


New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-04-27


New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-04-27
DRAFT REVIEW


The Saints stuck to their off-season plan of trying to upgrade the NFL's 23rd-ranked during the draft, using three of their four selections on defensive players and the final pick on a punter who could help the defense out.

After doing what they could on the defensive side of the ball in veteran free agency, the Saints looked that way again in the draft despite being hampered by a lack of picks as a result of three trades they made last spring and summer.

Saints officials targeted Ohio State All-American cornerback Malcolm Jenkins with their first pick and they quickly snatched him up, although they might have been able to back up a few spots to secure additional selections -- which would have been tempting since they had only four to start with.

But Saints coach Sean Payton said they didn't want to run the risk of losing Jenkins, the top-rated cornerback on the draft board, and quickly took the 6-foot, 204-pounder. It was apparent that Jenkins, who could have gone to the Green Bay Packers on the ninth pick, was going to fall to the Saints when several defensive ends went early.

The Saints initially were open to the possibility of trading down to pick up an extra pick, but once they were on the clock and Jenkins was on the board, the opportunity to make a trade didn't seem so appealing.

"We had discussed this pretty extensively," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said. "Regardless of how many players we liked that were there at 14, if Malcolm was there, we were going to take him."

The Saints did try to make a trade, but only to try and get back into the first round to select Jenkins' teammate at Ohio State, running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. But after talking to several teams, mainly the New England Patriots, they couldn't pull off a deal for 2010 draft picks and Wells was taken by the Arizona Cardinals at No. 31.

Loomis and Payton acknowledged that they started inquiring about a trade about two minutes after they picked Jenkins. They would have given up their 2010 first-rounder pick and other selections to land the bruising Ohio State back.

"He was the back that we liked," Payton said. "Because he lasted the way he did, we thought there was value with that pick. We thought a lot of the player as well."

The Saints selected two Wake Forest defenders in the fourth round -- free safety Chip Vaughn and linebacker Stanley Arnoux -- and then dealt their seventh-round pick and a fifth-rounder in 2010 to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fifth-round choice. They used that pick on SMU punter Thomas Morstead, who was known for his directional punting in college.

BEST PICK: The Saints thought so much of Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins that they resisted the urge to drop down in the first round. The versatile Jenkins is expected to help solidify a shaky pass defense that has allowed 67 pass plays of 25 yards or longer over the last two seasons.

COULD SURPRISE: Safety Chip Vaughn was rated by the Saints as the third-best strong safety in the draft and was projected as a second- or third-round pick. However, the Saints plan to try him at free safety, where he's likely to be groomed as a replacement for veteran Darren Sharper in a year or two -- if not sooner.

A closer look at the Saints' picks:

Round 1/14 -- Malcolm Jenkins, CB, 6-0, 204, Ohio State

The Saints could have traded down to get additional picks, but they didn't want to take a chance on another team swooping in and grabbing him. Jenkins is a versatile athlete who also played some free safety for Ohio State, although the Saints will initially work him into the mix at cornerback.

Round 4/116 -- Chip Vaughn, FS, 6-2, 221, Wake Forest

He could be the answer to a need at free safety, where the Saints tried Josh Bullocks and Kevin Kaesviharn the past two seasons. Vaughn was rated highly as a strong safety, but his 4.42-second speed in the 40-yard dash and support of the run make him a free safety prospect.

Round 4/118 -- Stanley Arnoux, LB, 6-1, 240, Wake Forest

Can play inside or outside, although the Saints will likely try him on the outside since the middle of their defense is manned by Jonathan Vilma. Arnoux was valued by the Saints for his 4.56 speed, physicality and his reliability as a tackler.

Round 5/164 -- Thomas Morstead, P, 6-4, 225, Southern Methodist

Saints coaches and scouts thought Morstead had the strongest leg of all the punters in this year's draft, even though he averaged a career-low 41.8 gross yards as a senior. But only 19 of his punts were returned as SMU ranked fourth in the nation in net average at 37.2 yards.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 27, 2009

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Travis Daniels Name: Travis Daniels
#29
Position: CB
Age: 25
Experience: 4 years
College: LSU
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