After Further Review: Breaking Down the 2012 Saints Draft

Hicks was an intriguing pick at 89 overall. (
Hicks was an intriguing pick at 89 overall. (

The dark cloud from the Saints bounty scandal cast a different feel over this year's NFL Draft.

There was no Sean Payton, no first or second round pick and not much excitement or sexiness.

But with an offseason full of headlines the Saints could probably use a little bit of 'boring' right now.

Let's break it all down.

Biggest Rookie Impact: Nick Toon, WR Wisconsin

There are times when taking a risk on potential pans out (Jimmy Graham), but as a general rule I'll take production over potential anytime, especially at wide receiver.

Toon is the perfect example.

His 40-time wasn't great but neither was Reggie Wayne's nor Marques Colston's coming out of college.

Toon finished his senior season with 64 receptions, 926 yards and ten touchdowns for Wisconsin.  In the Rose Bowl vs. #5 Oregon, Toon caught nine passes for 104 yards and touchdown. Against #8 Nebraska, Toon had four passes for 94 yards.

You get the point. Toon played big in big-time games. It's a quality that cannot be ignored at that position.

There's also an immediate need for his services. The Saints could definitely use another receiver after Robert Meachem departed for San Diego. Toon's game may most resemble Colston's but at 6-2, 215, he is almost an exact replica of Meachem physically. He may not have the wheels Meach had but given his background I'd be willing to bet his football IQ is miles ahead of where Meachem's was when he arrived in New Orleans in 2007.

The Saints offense is known for its diverse packages. Surely, they'll find one for Toon sooner than later.

Durability is the big knock on him but isn't staying healthy the wild-card for anyone?

Most Intriguing Selection: Akiem Hicks, DT Regina

Hicks is truly an enigma.

If Toon was the argument for production, Hicks is the complete opposite.

The Saints are banking that Hicks' upside will warrant his third round selection after a checkered college past.

Hicks went from junior college to LSU where he was at the center of NCAA recruiting violations. He never played a down for the Tigers and even worked as a DirecTV employee before playing north of the border at the University of Regina, a school I've never heard of before now.

If Hicks would have completed his college career as a Tiger, getting drafted in the third round would not have been a surprise.

Thus, his fairly high pick does bring up some legitimate questions. I am guarded with my expectations but Hicks does fulfill a need on this team.  If he does pan out he'll be the latest small-school gem found by the Saints front office.

Time will tell. Patience is key.

Other Observations

- One thing stood out on the highlight reel of Corey White: instant speed. He didn't need a whole lot of setup to be at full-speed. I see why Steve Spagnuolo likes him for cornerback, despite being listed as a safety. At 6-0 he also has a great height for a defensive back.

- Al Toon spoke to the media about his son coming to New Orleans. I knew how good of a wide receiver he was in his day, but I didn't know how well of a businessman he's been after his playing career. Among other business ventures, Toon owns a bank that now has $175 million in assets.

-One head-scratching moment from the draft came on our conference call with 66th round pick, Andrew Tiller. Tiller said his college coach Doug Marrone (former Saints offensive line coach) showed the Orange film of the Saints offensive line. Tiller said he paid particular attention to Jahri Evans. But when a reporter followed up by asking what he learned from watching the Saints, Tiller said he didn't really learn anything. Interesting.

-It did feel good to talk Saints and have it just be about football this weekend. Judging from fellow media members and some players I've talked to, EVERYONE is just ready for this bounty situation to go away. Its been a story for far too long. Hopefully the player penalties will come soon and this will finally be put to bed.