After Further Review: Grading Saints' Draft - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

After Further Review: Grading Saints' Draft

? (AP Photo) With their selection of Kenny Vaccaro, the next great Saints draft debate is underway. ? (AP Photo) With their selection of Kenny Vaccaro, the next great Saints draft debate is underway.

As I sat back and looked at the 2013 draft class the overall feeling I got was the Saints stayed true to their recent history on drafts.

They were solid on day one, exceptional on day two and three and took a few calculated risks throughout.

Let's break it all down.

The Next Great Saints Draft Debate

I must admit, I was surprised at their choice at 15. Not at the pick of Kenny Vaccaro, but the selection of him with Jarvis Jones still on the board.

Let me be clear, I like the Vaccaro pick. He was second in my bullpen of picks for the Saints. I think if he develops his skill set he can become a Troy Polamalu-type of player.

No, I'm not suggesting he's the next Polamalu. But I am suggesting that he has similar attributes in terms of aggressiveness and versatility.

But given the choice of Jones and Vaccaro, I thought the pick was Jones. And so did a lot of other draft experts and judging by the instant reaction I got on twitter and texts, so too did the fan base.

Payton and Mickey Loomis thought otherwise. Vaccaro is their guy. Jones is not. Time will eventually tell us who made the right choice.

One thing I know is the Who Dat Nation will welcome Vaccaro with open arms. But they will also keep a close eye on Jones in Pittsburgh.

This debate has only just begun.

Middle Round Gems

Coming into the draft, Mickey Loomis said the team had less than 32 first round grades on prospects but had 45-50 second round grades. And just as I suspected, Arkansas Pine-Bluff offensive tackle Terron Armstead and Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins were in that group.

Essentially, the Saints went into the draft with no second round pick, but got two second rounders in terms of value. Well done.

 The fifth round selection of Kenny Stills was a steal at that spot.

Stills was incredibly productive at Oklahoma and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. As he does with all wide receivers, Payton will find a role for Stills and he will flourish in this system.

Rufus Johnson is a complete wild card. I had no idea Tarleton State even existed, much less had a football team. But if he works out, the Saints look like geniuses. If he doesn't, it's only a sixth round choice. That's a good spot to roll the dice.

Ivory Trade a Win-Win

I understand fans' frustration with Chris Ivory getting traded. The brutal truth is Ivory was fourth on the depth chart at running back and not coming up.

 Do I think that's fair? Absolutely not. His production, when given the opportunity, was outstanding. But it is what it is. When all four backs were healthy, for whatever reason, Ivory was always the odd man out.

So the Saints got the deal they wanted in a fourth rounder, then packaged it to get back in the third round and grabbed a player with second round value in Jenkins.

All in all, the Saints got a potential starter for a guy that led the team in healthy inactives on gamedays.

Ivory shouldn't be mad at the Saints. The Saints gave him the chance as an undrafted free agent. He took advantage of the opportunity and now reportedly has a new $10 million contract in New York. Plus, he gets the chance to be the featured back for the Jets.

Bottom line, everybody wins.

Other Observations/Predictions:

-         When Stills and Vaccaro went head-to-head during the last two seasons, the Sooners put up 63 and 55 points on the Longhorns. Stills had eight catches in total in those games.

-         My biggest issue with Vaccaro was his lack of interceptions. Five in three seasons as a starter is not very good. I can't simply write that off to him playing a lot of nickel snaps.  It doesn't mean he's not a playmaker; it just means he's not a ballhawk. So I'm not expecting him to come in and pick off a lot of passes. Players don't become ballhawks in the NFL, they were ballhakws their entire football life.  Check Darren Sharper, Ed Reed and Sammy Knight's interception stats in college and high school for proof. Some guys just have a knack for the ball, some guys don't. It appears Vaccaro does not. I'm not sure it's a skill that can be developed.

-         If I had to pick the player from this class that will have the biggest impact during his rookie year, I would have to pick Jenkins. He has a skill set, I'm not sure anyone else on the team has.

-         Stanford OLB Chase Thomas will be their best undrafted free agent. Thomas had a third or fourth round grade according to nfldraft.com.

-         I like the signing of Ryan Griffin but I don't think he will be Drew Brees' immediate backup this year. He's likely heading to the practice squad in 2013.

-         LSU tackle Chris Faulk got some REAL bad advice. With a healthy and productive senior season in Baton Rouge, Faulk could have possibly been a first or second round pick next year. Instead he came out early, after missing the season with a torn ACL, and had to settle for free agent deal with Cleveland.

-         As an LSU Tiger, we will all follow Kevin Minter in the pros. But I will also follow him as the guy picked in the slot the Saints would have chosen had they not gotten their second round pick stripped by the NFL as part of the bounty punishment.

-         I talked to about eight general managers at the NFL Combine about Tyrann Mathieu. Of all those general managers, Arizona's Steve Keim easily had the most to say about Mathieu. So it was no surprise to me that it was the Cardinals that rolled the dice on him.

-         Steve Gleason. Respect.

Final Grade: B+

I can't give this draft an ‘A.' With just five players, the quantity is too low. History has shown even with the best of drafts (2006) a few players don't pan out. With just five players obviously that weakens the chances of players making it.

While the quantity is not there, the quality is, especially in rounds three and five.

 All in all, I think the Saints had a very good draft.   

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