The Sean Payton/Mickey Loomis regime has done it again. After successful drafts that brought players like Reggie Bush, Sedrick Ellis, Roman Harper, Marques Colston, Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks, etc., the Saints brain trust are getting praised for their bold moves in the 2011 draft.
In the first round, top-15 talent Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal, started slipping and the Saints eagerly scooped him up at #24 overall. Jordan doesn't blow you away as a speed rusher, but he fills a huge need and was one of the top defensive ends in the entire draft. But the Saints didn't sit on the hands waiting for their second round pick. They started asking, how can we get Mark Ingram as well, the top RB in the draft, and started making calls to get back in round 1. They found a suiter in the Patriots and sent their #2 and next year's #1 picks for the #28 pick and the opportunity to select Ingram.
This started a firestorm of debate regarding Reggie Bush's status and his future in New Orleans, especially after Bush tweeted that it's been fun New Orleans. But as Coach Payton said, Bush shouldn't be affected by Ingram. They are two different runners and Ingram is more of a Deuce McAllister-type than a Bush type. If I were Pierre Thomas or Chris Ivory, I'd be more worried than Bush should be. Payton loves Bush's diversity and caters his offense (sometimes too much) to Bush's abilities. With the injuries the Saints suffered at RB last year, they had to get the top runner in the draft and Ingram will look nice in the black and gold.
The Saints focused on defense in the rest of the draft. In the 3rd round, they had two selections: LB Martez Wilson, Illinois, at pick 72 and CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville, at pick 88. Wilson should compete for a spot on the outside and Patrick will start on special teams and could battle guys like Randall Gay and Leigh Torrence for playing time.
In the 7th round, the Saints took a chance on DE Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh, who is recovering from a torn ACL, at pick 226. If he comes back healthy, he could be a steal. With their last pick, #243, they took another special teams player in LB Nate Bussey, Illinois. Bussey is a tweener LB/S prospect, but he may be in the Steve Gleason/Chris Reis special teams mode.
All in all, it was a solid draft for the Saints, but fans won't really know the impact for a couple of years. Immediately, Jordan and Ingram should contribute, with Wilson competing with the other young LBs on the roster for playing time.