Saints say they’re in ’good spot’ with 14th pick

Published 2:54 pm Friday, April 24, 2009

The New Orleans Saints are going into this weekend’s NFL draft without picks in three of the first five rounds, but they say that doesn’t mean they’ll come away short-handed.

The Saints used their second-, third-, and fifth-round picks in trades that brought them middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, their leading tackler last season, and tight end Jeremy Shockey, a starter when he was healthy.

“In a perfect world we’d have our first three picks as well as the players that we acquired,” general manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday, “but we made those decisions last year and we’re happy with them. We just have to deal with the fact that (on Saturday) we have one pick in the first round. I think we’re in a good spot at 14 and we’ll get a player that can contribute to our team.”

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Loomis said he was beginning to field phone calls from other teams gauging what interest there was in trading up or down in the first round. He said New Orleans was more likely to trade down than up, though he wouldn’t rule out anything.

“I think everyone is pretty much willing to move at this point,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of bullets in our gun in terms of draft picks, but we could talk about players or future picks, and that’s a little more difficult to do.”

Loomis said “teams have become pretty adept at keeping this information close to the vest,” but he added that he suspects the Saints will have “an opportunity or two” to trade down.

“What you’re gauging,” he said, “is how far back you are going, who is the player or players that you have an opportunity to draft when you move back and are those guys that you think can help your team as much as the guys you’re targeting in the spot you’re at, along with the value you’re getting.

“When you trade back, you’re getting a third- or fourth-round pick. That’s a crapshoot to determine who you might take or might have available to you at that pick.”

Whether the Saints trade down likely will be determined by how many attractive players are still available as the 14th pick approaches.

“If we had six guys that we felt real good about, we’d probably be willing to move back five positions,” Loomis said. “If we had only two, we’re not going to be inclined to move backward any more than a couple spots if that opportunity presents itself.”

Loomis said he’s “not very” confident that the Saints have a handle on which 13 players will be selected ahead of them.

“There will be a surprise or two, I’m sure,” he said. “I don’t think we could accurately say who the first 13 picks are going to be.”