NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The draft is obviously a huge part of the off-season, but at the end of the day, it's just complementary to what a team already has on their roster and what they've done in free agency.
That’s why for the Saints it was about drafting quality that can immediately help the team, rather than quantity at positions that are already spoken for. Their aggressive philosophy this year landed the Black and Gold center Erik McCoy, who Drew Brees believes should fit in nicely on the field and in the locker room, based how well they’ve drafted in recent years as well.
“What our organization always does a great job of is really identifying our needs, and also who they feel are the best players in the draft. Guys that not only have the talent to play at the next level, but they feel like are the type of guys that we want. Possess the type of character, have the type of intelligence and toughness. Just all of the traits that we’re looking for,” said Brees.
McCoy, by way of the tape and many draft grades, fits those qualities. Quite frankly though, it’s a lot of pressure. The Saints need him to live up to his billing as a guy that can start right away. The offensive line has been key to their success over the last two seasons, and they don’t want to take a step back in the absence of retired center Max Unger, who Brees says he’ll miss playing with.
“He’s such a warrior, and I think for him, just like for all of us, your mindset is, ‘I don’t want to let the team down. I’ve got to be there for them.’ I think that’s what’s pushed him through now. He’s battle through a lot of stuff injury wise over the last two years. I think there comes a time for all of us. Everybody likes to leave on their own terms. I think he just felt like it was time,” said Brees.
He’s not the only one they’ll have to replace in a leadership role. It can’t be underestimated how much of a catalyst Mark Ingram was for the offense, especially with his angry running style.
But moving on, they have Latavius Murray to compliment Alvin Kamara is simply part of the business.
“Look at free agency and the draft for everybody. Everybody re-tools. Everybody gets stronger. Everybody kind of goes back to square one. You’ve got to re-establish your identity each and every year. That’s why it’s important to have great leadership in the locker room and guys that will help drive and motivate and reinforce all of the positive things and culture of our team in our locker room throughout the off-season. To make sure we’re poised and ready to make a run at it throughout the regular season,” said Brees.
Because once again, the Saints will begin this season following heartbreak from their previous playoff run. We’ll see if it takes its toll on them, having been so close to their ultimate goal two years in a row, and having it taken away in the final moments.
“Maybe you never get over something like that. But bottom line is you have to somehow, some way, turn that into good. So you have to believe that even through the adversity, even through the tough times, even through the failures that don’t go your way. You’ve got to believe that God has a higher plan. It’s meant to strengthen us in some way. There will be positive that comes from it,” said Brees.