The New Orleans Saints are now only just a little bit over 24 hours away from the start of the 2017 NFL Draft, and as you might imagine: the rumors about what they might or might not do in Philadelphia tomorrow night, are running rampant with no clear end in sight until NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally steps up to the podium at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Throughout the last several weeks, we here at the Saints News Network have been navigating our way past all of the rumors, innuendo, and outright “disinformation” that purposely is being put out by NFL teams at this time of year, in order to mask or hide what their TRUE intentions really are with regard to players who they plan to select; and how to find additional ways to ensure that it happens.
In wartime, it’s a term known as “subterfuge”.
This morning for the final time before the start of this year’s Saints Draft, we present all of the “hottest” and very latest rumors currently circulating around New Orleans’ alleged intentions tomorrow night — and give our very best estimate based on the information from our sources within the sports media industry that cover the team both on a local and national level, as to what you can expect from the Saints beginning with their first pick at #11 overall.
And we start first with this one……
RUMOR #1: WITH THE SAINTS DECIDING TO NOT TRADE FOR PATRIOTS CORNERBACK MALCOM BUTLER, THEY WILL DEFINITELY TAKE A CORNERBACK WITH THE FIRST PICK AT #11
TRUE OR FALSE: Maybe
The “hottest” rumor circling around the Saints right now is that they’ve become enamored with University of Alabama cornerback Marlon Hmphrey, with several analysts including Bleacher Report’s well-respected Draft Analyst Matt Miller coming right out and saying so yesterday.
However, keep this in mind:
Just because there’s a player that several analysts all report is ‘desired’ by a particular team, that DOESN’T mean that player will actually be the one who gets picked.
More often times than not, a team will INTENTIONALLY put it out there (in the hopes that it will then be “leaked” and spread around for other NFL teams to hear about) to throw everyone else “off track” — so that the player they REALLY have their eye focused on, will fall to them or still be available to them once they are on the clock.
EVERY YEAR NFL teams INTENTIONALLY put out disinformation and “smoke screens” — take Humphrey to Saints at #11 rumors with a grain of salt
— Barry Hirstius (@BarryHirstius) April 25, 2017
Some good words for April (think NFL Draft…):
subterfuge, smokescreen, deception, deceit, intrigue, cunning, bluff, ruse
Feel free to add
— Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7) April 17, 2017
Is it possible that Humphrey is a player the Saints would really like to have? Certainly.
However, the Saints THEMSELVES may have wanted word that they like Humphrey “a lot” to be purposely be put out there — in the hopes that another player that they actually want, will then be left alone by the teams who are picking ahead of them and behind them who are possibly looking to take that same player, so the Saints can take him at #11.
That ladies and gentlemen, is what’s called “subterfuge” — and nobody does it better at this time of year than Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis.
So then the question becomes: which player is it that the Saints REALLY want and hope to pick at #11?
In that very article mentioned above, Bleacher Report’s Miller suggests that it’s Alabama middle linebacker Reuben Foster.
Miller says that Foster is a player who inside sources have told him, that teams are leaking (on purpose) to the media that he “will fall” because they hope it’ll push him down the board.
In fact, two different NFL teams’ personnel executives told Miller they would take Foster if he’s still on the board when they’re on the clock late in the first round.
Miller then adds: there is a chance Foster slips in the draft, but that he has a very hard time seeing Foster get past the Saints at pick No. 11.
Despite all of the Pre-Draft issues surrounding Foster, he arguably is one of THE VERY BEST defensive players in the entire Draft, and one of the few players expected to make an IMMEDIATE IMPACT on Day One.
Long story short: the Saints might want the whole wide world to think that they want one Alabama player (Humphrey), when in fact they REALLY want another one (Foster).
RUMOR #2: SINCE THE SAINTS SIGNED ADRIAN PETERSON, THEY WON’T BE TAKING A RUNNING BACK NOW
TRUE OR FALSE: Completely false
The Saints as you well know by now, signed 32-year old free agent and former 4-time All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson yesterday to a 2-year, $7 million contract, making him the new #2 running back behind starter Mark Ingram.
So the assumption goes, the Saints don’t “need” a running back anymore, right?
That’s because even though Peterson’s accomplishments speak for themselves, Peterson purely is a between-the-tackles, “power runner” — very much like Ingram is.
However, New Orleans STILL LACKS a player that’s considered a “scatback” in their offense: a quick, nimble, athletic, “shifty” type of runner able to catch passes out of the backfield and turn them into gains for long yardage.
The Saints have had a back like that for their offense over a majority of the years that Sean Payton has been the head coach, most notably Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles.
The Saints current “scatback” is Travaris Cadet, but he isn’t a player whom can be relied on to do any major damage to opposing NFL defenses — meaning that they WILL most very likely seek another player of that style, to fit their offense.
The obvious choice for the Saints to fill that role from the Draft would be Stanford University All-American Christian McCaffrey, who as of now is being projected to the Carolina Panthers with the #8 pick.
So with the unlikelihood of the Saints getting McCaffrey, here are some names to remember as possible mid to late round picks to fill that role:
Kareem Hunt of Toledo, Elijah McGuire of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Tarik Cohen of North Carolina A&T, and T.J. Logan of North Carolina (pictured below) are among the players to watch for once the Saints start picking from the 3rd Round (where they have two picks) on.
Yes, the Saints are “loaded” at running back with the addition of Peterson, but what Peterson does still doesn’t fill all of the “needs” that the Saints still have on offense with the running game.
A player like T.J. Logan could solve those issues —- and QUICK (no pun intended).
RUMOR #3: THE SAINTS WILL “JUMP ON” TEXAS TECH QUARTERBACK PATRICK MAHOMES IF HE’S STILL AVAILABLE WITH THE SECOND OF THEIR 2 FIRST ROUND PICKS, AT #32 OVERALL
TRUE OR FALSE: Likely true
The fact that the Saints are said to be considering to find the eventual replacement for Drew Brees in THIS Draft instead of waiting until next year in 2018 (which is supposed to be the best Draft class for quarterbacks in nearly almost 35 years), is a true one — and the one quarterback that they reportedly are higher in that any other one available is Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech University.
Saints head coach Sean Payton himself PERSONALLY has worked out and spent some extra time with Mahomes in Lubbock, Texas a few weeks ago; and is said to be very impressed by the young man who many consider to be the top QB of the 2017 Draft class.
The only problem for the Saints is that Mahomes likely won’t make it to #32 (although it’s not totally impossible), since several other teams most notably the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs, are said to be considering Mahomes with their 1st Round picks as well.
Mahomes, who finished his college career with 11,252 yards passing and 93 touchdowns, has seen his draft stock steadily rise in the weeks as scouts have touted his maturity and what appears to be an outstanding mental approach to the sport and to the QB position specifically, that makes him a candidate to succeed long-term at the Pro level.
If the Saints’ desire to get Mahomes is as really strong as some say it is, then the fact that the Saints could even trade up to take him before Houston or Kansas City can get him, is always a possibility as well.
Let’s face it: Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger at age 38, and the Saints don’t have a choice but to find his replacement sooner rather than later, so that they don’t get “caught in limbo” and get stuck in a period of bad seasons while they wait for the next one to develop.
I personally feel that the Saints should WAIT one more year and take a QB in next year’s 2018 NFL Draft, a QB class that some analysts say will rival the legendary 1983 NFL Draft class that featued Hall of Famers John Elway, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly.
Players such as Sam Darnold of USC, Josh Rosen of UCLA, Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State (pictured right below who is my personal favorite because I believe he’d perfectly fit into the Saints offense and can throw a football 70 yards with a simple “flick” of a wrist) and Jake Browning of the University of Washington are among just a few of the QB’s that will be available next year.
However, the Saints may feel that their time is starting to run out and they’d rather not wait even just one year longer, to get the ball rolling on what will be a process of at least a couple of years.
It’s the exact reason why that they may feel compelled to take a player like Mahomes right now, so that they can begin to transition from the end of the “Drew Brees Era” — and into the next one.
ONE FINAL NOTE BEFORE WE GO:
As of this very moment, no NFL team except the Cleveland Browns at #1 — know who they will be picking once the Draft gets underway tomorrow night.
Regarding NFL Draft news:
1) No one outside the team knows who they will draft
2) Almost everyone inside the building doesn’t know either
— Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7) April 14, 2017
Teams know WHO they’d like to get, but by the time they are finally able to get on the clock and use their turn to pick, the player they wanted has already been taken.
Hell, not only does anyone in the media know which players that the Saints will end up with; but even the Saints THEMSELVES don’t have any idea, until it actually happens.
So until that time actually arrives, with regard to ANY rumor that you hear about the Saints; just keep in mind the famous lyric sung by legendary singer Marvin Gaye in the 1968 hit song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”:
“People say believe half of what you see
And some of none, of what you hear”
Words to live by, indeed……….
Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist and Lead Analyst Barry Hirstius is a 49-year old semi-retired journalist and former New Orleans area sports Editor and Columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints NFL football team. Additionally, he is a frequent guest on a variety of SportsTalk Radio programs that cover the Saints. Barry is also a New Orleans native that dating all the way back to his childhood in the early 1970's, grew up as a long-time New Orleans Saints fan who followed and now covers the team for a span of over 40 plus years. Most importantly, he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.......