NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Saints have two first round draft picks in this year's NFL Draft. General Manager Mickey Loomis addressed several issues Wednesday, including quarterbacks, off-the-field incidents and the chances of the team moving up in the first round.
When a player has an incident close to the draft, how do you all view that, as opposed to it happening a month ago where you would have a chance to bring him in and talk to him about it? Is it a thing where you all already have your information on him and it's not that big of a deal, or is it a bigger deal because of the timing?
“I think, without referencing any specific player, that with anything that happens closer to the draft you get a little more alarmed, because you're concerned a little bit more about judgment as much as the incident itself. The problem is that you don't have enough time to dig into it and get all of the information that you would have if it had happened a month ago or two months ago. So anything like that is concerning, but any incident for any of these players is concerning.”
For players with incidents, how do you weigh that? Do you go back, look at other players with similar situations, and see how they have turned out?
“I think we all have experience and reference points that we can tap into, but every guy is different. All of the incidents, while they may be similar, there are differences, so you're relying on lots of different sources of information about character. There are people at the school, there are people that they've grown up with, there are coaches that they've had, academic advisors; there are a lot of people that touch these players and we talked to a lot of them. We rely on our scouts to do that, and we do a lot of that ourselves. Fortunately, for each of our teams, we have relationships in the business with coaches and possibly people at the school. There are a lot of sources of information that we tap into and collect, and at the end we just have to make a judgment.”
How much can you trust the information that you receive for all of these sources?
“It depends on the source, but we verify as much as we can, and we don't rely on just one thing. We are collecting a lot of information, like every team is, and then eventually we just have to make a judgment.”
Is there a goal for how many players you want to come in and play right away from this draft class considering that you loaded up with five picks in the first 78 picks?
“We want to hit on all nine picks eventually. I think it's unrealistic to expect nine players to come in and start right away their first year; it's probably unrealistic to expect four or five as well. What we want to do is to select good players that we have a vision for that can contribute early hopefully, but that's not the whole story. We are going to have to wait two or three years down the road before we can make a judgment on how we did.”
A lot of these top prospects have had character issues and red flags; do you lessen your criteria for a certain pick to say that it is worth taking a gamble here, or if he's off your board, he's off your board?
“There will be some guys that are off our board regardless of where they might get taken.”
Someone said that if a certain player has character issues, you might try to justify them if you really like that player, is that kind of your thought process? If a guy has a red flag, do you try to figure out how he can still fit, or are you more apt to write him off because you want locker room leaders?
“We don't subscribe to that. I wouldn't say that's our philosophy, but I will say this. You really have to be careful about labeling someone for a particular incident. You have to dig, find out what's behind it, and if they have learned from it. We've all made mistakes in life, but have you learned from it, grown from it, and responded to it? There are a lot of factors and variables here, and someone that may be off another team's board might be on our board, and vice versa. So, again that gets to the judgment of each team.”
You have traded up a ton in the first round. Has there ever been a major temptation to trade back?
“There have been times when we have thought about that. Yes is the answer to that question; I'm not going to expound on it. We are not opposed to doing either one of those options.”
Is there a possibility of you trading picks for players in the upcoming Draft, or possibly trading a 2016 pick?
“I suspect that that is unlikely, but I don't know what opportunities are going to present themselves. There's nothing on the horizon right now that I would say could happen in that direction, but you never know what could happen. As for 2016 picks, that is pretty much all speculation, but if you tell me what the trade is, I will tell you if we are interested.”
How much thought or discussion do you put into future drafts and possibly looking to gain more potential picks next year?
“We definitely put some thought into; I wouldn't say a lot, but definitely some. Obviously, gathering up picks is a good thing, and yet, we are interested in helping our team right now, and for what makes us better right now. That's the focus, and yet, we always have an eye on that, as well as next year and the year after that, and some of that is dictated by what salary cap you may have in the future. Some of the variables that dictate that are how many contracts do you have coming due that year, how many free agents do you have, what positions are open, etc. There are a lot of factors and variables in that, but I think most of our focus is on what are we doing right now and how can we help our football team right now.”
How do you know it's time to draft an understudy for Drew Brees?
“That's a good question. I think you're always looking for a good quarterback to get in the program. We have one in Ryan Griffin we like. If an opportunity presents itself, we'll take another one here. I don't see the end for Drew Brees on the short term horizon, at least I certainly hope not. It does take time for these quarterbacks to develop and we're conscious of that. We evaluate the quarterbacks. If the opportunity presents itself to take one at the right time, we are not afraid to do that. ”
Do you set trade values beforehand?
“That's a good question. What I will do, and what I've been doing the last few days, is I go over the last ten years, I look at every trade that happens on draft day so I get a pretty good sense of the history of movement in these rounds. We've got three or four point charts, we go through that too. I have a pretty good idea. I'll go through every pick if we move one pick up, two picks up, three picks up, same thing going backwards. I'll have a real good idea of what has happened, a real good idea of what the perceived value is based on the point charts. We've got to make a determination as to this is what we would do, and this is what we would take if we moved back. I'll have a really good feel for that before tomorrow night.”
Is there a good opportunity to draft defensive players in this draft?
“Our assessment is that there are some good defensive players in this draft, yes.”
Will you follow past success of drafting offensive linemen in middle rounds?
“That's a good point. That's a credit to our scouts and our coaches who have been really adept at developing those players. I don't know that we think of not taking an offensive lineman early because we will get one later. It's just who we have graded high at the time, we're picking. It's nice to have that in our back pocket, that we've done a good job in that area, just as we've done a good job with free agent running backs for example. We don't rely on that, we are going to take the guys that we have graded highly when they present themselves regardless of position.”
Do players with character red flags go off the board?