Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 4/24/12

Allow me to just preface this pre-draft article with a little disclaimer to explain my absence from Saints reporting over this year’s offseason thus far. The overall negativity of the news on the New Orleans Saints this offseason, with the whole “Bountygate” thing as it has unfolded up to this point, with an unpaid one year suspension to Head Coach Sean Payton, suspensions of 8 games to General Manager Mickey Loomis and 6 games to Linebackers Coach (and now interim Head Coach) Joe Vitt, not to mention the soon-to-come over the top penalties to the allegedly involved players on the defensive side of the ball, has kept me from writing any news on the team so far this offseason.

If you really want my personal opinion on the whole subject, the penalties being handed down by “Dictator-in-Chief” Roger Goodell are way too exhorbitant and over the top. If you really believe that every team didn’t have similar programs going on in their locker rooms, you are either just plain ignorant or extremely naive. Similar to the way many college teams reward their players for big plays with stickers on their helmets, this is a professional league where players have been known to contribute to a central fund that pays certain players back (a system developed by the players for the players) for big plays on the field. This was simply a case where someone with a vendetta played the role of whistle-blower against the Saints‘ organization which an overly enthusiastic Leage Commissioner, namely Roger Goodell, is making an example of the Saints in the worst way possible in order to send a message to the rest of the NFL in the name of so-called “Player Safety”, yeah right!

As for the latest allegation by an ESPN report that Saints’ GM Mickey Loomis had his booth in the Superdome wired to receive opposing teams’ communications during home games, a Saints representative is flatly denying any and all of those allegations as false.

In a bit of actual regular Saints‘ player news, the team has just re-signed K John Kasay 2 to their roster under a one year contract on Monday, April 23, 2012.

LB Jonathan Casillas 52 has reportedly signed his free agent tender today to remain on the Saints‘ roster this season.

Regarding the 2012 NFL Draft, the National Football League announced that 33 legendary NFL alumni, including former Saint and Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinee Willie Roaf , will announce live on Friday, April 27, second- and third-round Draft picks from Radio City Music Hall.

This continues a successful program that began last year in which each selection in the second round is announced by a former player.

Active Pre-draft Roster

42 Abdul-Quddus , Isa S 6-1 220 23 R Fordham
40 Amaya, Jonathon S 6-2 205 23 2 Nevada
87 Arrington, Adrian WR 6-3 192 26 2 Michigan
71 Brown, Charles T 6-5 297 25 2 Southern California
77 Bunkley, Brodrick DT 6-2 306 28 6 Florida State
74 Bushrod, Jermon T 6-5 315 27 5 Towson
59 Bussey, Nate LB 6-2 220 23 R Illinois
4 Canfield, Sean QB 6-4 223 25 1 Oregon State
57 Chamberlain, Chris OLB 6-1 238 26 4 Tulsa
45 Collins, Jed FB 6-1 255 26 1 Washington State
12 Colston, Marques WR 6-4 225 28 6 Hofstra
10 Daniel, Chase QB 6-0 225 25 3 Missouri
60 de la Puente, Brian G 6-3 306 26 2 California
47 Drescher, Justin LS 6-1 235 24 2 Colorado
98 Ellis, Sedrick DT 6-1 307 26 4 Southern California
73 Evans, Jahri G 6-4 318 28 6 Bloomsburg
93 Galette, Junior DE 6-2 258 24 2 Stillman
80 Graham, Jimmy TE 6-7 265 25 2 Miami (Fla.)
33 Greer, Jabari CB 5-11 180 30 8 Tennessee
66 Grubbs, Ben OG 6-3 310 28 5 Auburn
35 Hall, Korey FB 6-0 236 28 5 Boise State
41 Harper, Roman S 6-1 200 29 6 Alabama
5 Hartley, Garrett K 5-8 195 25 4 Oklahoma
56 Hawthorne, David MLB 6-0 246 26 4 Texas Christian
19 Henderson, Devery WR 5-11 200 30 8 Louisiana State
54 Herring, Will LB 6-3 241 28 5 Auburn
81 Higgins, Michael TE 6-5 242 24 R Nebraska-Omaha
61 Howell, Nick G 6-5 295 25 1 USC
28 Ingram, Mark RB 5-9 215 22 R Alabama
29 Ivory, Chris RB 6-0 222 24 2 Tiffin
27 Jenkins, Malcolm S 6-0 204 24 3 Ohio State
96 Johnson, Tom DT 6-3 288 27 1 Southern Mississippi
94 Jordan, Cameron DE 6-4 287 22 R California
2 Kasay, John K 5-10 210 42 21 Georgia
75 King, Mitch DT 6-2 280 25 1 Iowa
50 Lofton, Curtis MLB 6-0 241 25 4 Oklahoma
90 McBride, Turk DE 6-2 278 26 6 Tennessee
25 Mcllwain, Kamaal CB 5-10 175 Newberry
68 Miller, Swanson DT 6-4 310 26 1 Oklahoma State
16 Moore, Lance WR 5-9 190 28 6 Toledo
13 Morgan, Joseph WR 6-1 184 24 R Walsh
6 Morstead, Thomas P 6-4 235 26 3 Southern Methodist
69 Olsen, Eric OG 6-3 305 23 2 Notre Dame
31 Parks, Cord DB 5-11 182 25 1 Northeastern
32 Patrick, Johnny CB 5-11 191 23 R Louisville
21 Robinson, Patrick CB 5-11 191 24 2 Florida State
15 Roby, Courtney WR 6-0 189 29 6 Indiana
79 Romeus, Greg DE 6-5 267 23 R Pittsburgh
58 Shanle, Scott LB 6-2 245 32 9 Nebraska
91 Smith, Will DE 6-3 282 30 8 Ohio State
43 Sproles, Darren RB 5-6 190 28 7 Kansas State
64 Strief, Zach T 6-7 320 28 6 Northwestern
14 Tanner, Andy WR 6-0 183 23 1 Midwestern State
36 Taylor, Chris RB 6-0 224 28 4 Indiana
65 Tennant, Matt C/G 6-4 300 25 2 Boston College
85 Thomas, David TE 6-3 248 28 6 Texas
23 Thomas, Pierre RB 5-11 215 27 5 Illinois
78 Trautwein, Phil OT 6-6 310 26 2 Florida
72 Tupou, Fenuki T 6-5 323 26 2 Oregon
30 Victorian, Josh DB 5-10 190 23 R Louisiana Tech
51 Vilma, Jonathan LB 6-1 230 30 8 Miami (Fla.)
95 Wilson, Martez LB 6-4 250 22 R Illinois
Restricted Free Agent

52 Casillas, Jonathan LB 6-1 227 24 3 Wisconsin
Unrestricted Free Agent

97 Charleston, Jeff DE 6-4 265 29 5 Idaho State
99 Franklin, Aubrayo DT 6-1 317 31 9 Tennessee
89 Gilmore, John TE 6-5 257 32 10 Penn State
54 Humber, Ramon LB 5-11 232 24 3 North Dakota State
84 Humphrey, Tory TE 6-2 255 29 5 Central Michigan
76 McQuistan, Pat T 6-6 319 28 6 Weber State
92 Rogers, Shaun DT 6-4 350 33 11 Texas
Exclusive Rights Free Agent

9 Brees, Drew QB 6-0 209 33 11 Purdue

The New Orleans Saints will have five picks in the 2012 NFL Draft: 89 (3rd round), 122 (4th round), 162 (5th round), 179 (6th round) and 234 (7th round)

Team draft needs:

Defense, defense and more defense.

Defensive End:
Finding a legitimate pass rusher will be key here for the Saints. Essentially, with DE Will Smith 91 now working under a newly restructured contract which reduced his salary cap number by almost $5 million in 2012 but also allowing his cap numbers to shoot sky high in 2013 and 2014, this may very well be his final season in New Orleans after what will amount to his 9th year in the league with the same team since being drafted 18th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Saints. Therefore, combined with the fact that the team only has Cameron Jordan and Turk McBride as defensive ends with any significant game-time experience with Junior Galette still largely unproven and Greg Romeus a complete unknown at the position, it would only make sense for the Saints to draft a DE who might be able to step in and contribute right away. DE Jeff Charleston 97 is an Unrestricted Free Agent this season.

Defensive Tackle:
Run stuffers are the biggest desire here for New Orleans. With their perennially starting 3 technique specialist at this position, Sedrick Ellis, going into the final season of his current contract with the Saints and the future uncertainty of what might happen with him in free agency next year, it might also be a good idea for New Orleans to look for a DT with some potential upside in this year’s draft. Despite the fact that this position was addressed in free agency with the signing of DT Brodrick Bunkley 77 to the Saints‘ squad from the Denver Boncos on March 21, 2012, the rest of the roster at defensive tackle is still largely unproven with only Tom Johnson, Mitch King and Swanson Miller rounding it out at the present time. DT’s Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers are both Unrestricted Free Agents.

The Cornerback position is another area where New Orleans feels they can never have enough solid depth. Since they are thin at the position right now, the Saints will undoubtedly place heavy emphasis on adding another young athlete to replace the losses of veterans Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence in this year’s free agency market. They do still have two solid long-term starters in Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson though, especially since Greer was just contractually locked up through the 2015 season. They will, however, be looking for skilled players who can compete with second-year pro Johnny Patrick for the nickel cornerback job and to develop as special teams players for the future at the position.

Offensive Tackle:
With left offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod also heading into his final year of contract agreements with New Orleans, the Saints could possibly take an extended look at offensive line players with potential to play the tackle position at the pro level after a bit of coaching up within a year or two. Behind starters Bushrod and right tackle Zach Strief, the roster stands fairly solid right now from the standpoint of depth with Charles Brown and two gametime unknowns in 3rd year players Phil Trautwein and Fenuki Tupou. OT Pat McQuistan is an Unrestricted Free Agent.

Aside from the obvious focus on defensive talent in this year’s draft by New Orleans, don’t be overly surprised to see the Saints target another multi-talented (blocking/pass-catching) Tight End to add to their arsenal on offense despite the fact that they currently have Jimmy Graham, David Thomas and Michael Higgins on the roster at that position. TE’s John Gilmore and Tory Humphrey are both Unrestricted Free Agents this season.

The New Orleans Saints, under the regime of currently suspended HC Sean Payton (2006-2011*) and GM Mickey Loomis (2002-present), have a solid history of drafting the “best player available” without much regard to the overall needs of the team at that particular time. That isn’t to say that they ignore the needs of the team, but that they value the talent level of the avalaible players ranked highest on their own list over potentially reaching down in talent on that list just to fill a position of need on the team. In other words, the way the Saints draft players is consistent with how best to build a team for the future in this league. That philosophy will be evident in this year’s draft with their first pick not coming until late in the third round, followed by a late fourth, a late fifth, a late sixth and a late seventh.

We still have five picks. So that’s five players we can bring in here to help contribute to our team. So we’ve got to do a great job with those five picks and sign some college free agents after the draft that can help us. And look, I think we get more focused, not less, when you’re short at the top of the draft. We have to do a good job … and we will do a good job with those mid-round and late-round picks because we have done that in the past. — General manager Mickey Loomis


You can subscribe to the New Orleans Saints Feed or follow me on Twitter @realheavyd.

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