Saints Snag Playmakers From Patriots

When the New England Patriots opted to trade away their second first round pick, it signaled two things; 1) they were willing to pass on an elite pass rusher, and 2) they didn't think they needed an elite running back. Only time will tell if New Orleans got the better of the former trade masters.

   The Saints made a move to add some punch to their pass rush when they chose Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan in the first round of the draft Thursday night.

   While there was lots of pre-draft speculation that the Saints would like to add muscle to the middle of their defensive line, the need was trumped by a desire to get more pressure on the quarterback when they went on the clock with the 24th pick.

   But they weren't exactly finished after getting Jordan, a 6-4, 287-pounder who was projected as top-15 pick until he slid when five other defensive ends were snapped up in a 14-pick span earlier in the round.

   About a half-hour after selecting Jordan, the Saints were able to swing a trade that landed them the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner -- Alabama running back Mark Ingram -- to help bolster a backfield that was wracked by injuries in 2010.

   The Saints sent their second-round pick this year (56th overall) and a first-round selection in 2012 to the New England Patriots to get a shot at Ingram, who they hope will improve a running game that ranked 28th last season with just 94.9 yards per game.

   So in a 30-minute span, the Saints were able to select two of the four players they targeted with the 24th overall pick they went into the draft with -- two players they didn't think would slide to them.

    "We were sitting there after our pick and (coach) Sean (Payton) and I were talking, and it was like, 'Hey, how can we get Mark Ingram?'" said Saints general manager Mickey Loomis. "So we started making some calls to the teams toward the back of the draft and we found a couple teams that were interested."

   After some wheeling and dealing between some other teams eventually left the door open for the Saints to get Ingram, the Patriots called back and struck the deal.

   The addition of Jordan is expected to give the Saints more pass-rush ability from the perimeter of their defensive line. They finished with just 33 sacks a year ago with only 10.5 coming from their top three ends -- right end Will Smith, left end Alex Brown and backup Jeff Charleston.

   Jordan will get a chance to beat out Brown, who is more of a run-stopper.

   Payton said later that the Saints would have taken Ingram at No. 24 had Jordan gone with the pick right before that. But they were surprised to see Jordan still there and quickly chose to address that need first.

   After getting Ingram, there was talk about what it means for the future of Reggie Bush, who has a base salary of $11.8 million this season.

   The Saints have Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Lynell Hamilton under contract, but Bush, Thomas and Ivory combined to miss 22 games a year ago and Hamilton didn't play at all after blowing out his knee in preseason.

   Bush acknowledged at the end of last season he would likely have to take a pay cut to remain with the team, but Payton said the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner remains in their plans.

   "Reggie has a certain skill-set and does things that we value a lot," Payton said. "(Ingram) is a runner who has a much different style. So we wouldn't begin to look at how it affects Reggie's status with us."

   But Bush wasn't so sure as he tweeted shortly after the first round came to a close: "It's been fun New Orleans," he said.

Good Fortune In New Orleans

   --The Saints did what a lot of people probably thought they couldn't do -- especially early in the 2011 draft.

   With only two picks after the third round -- both of them in the seventh -- the Saints didn't have a lot of ammunition to make a trade, which general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton have a penchant for doing on draft day.

   But they managed to find a way to help their defense and offense with two first-round picks, acquiring a second one about 30 minutes after taking Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan with the 24th overall selection.

   The selection of Alabama running back Mark Ingram with the 28th pick was a bonus even though they had to send their second-rounder and first-round choice in 2012 to New England.

   While the aggressive move for Ingram helped the offense, the Saints focused on defense later on in the draft -- going for Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson and Louisville cornerback Johnny Patrick in the third round and also picked up Pittsburgh defensive end Greg Romeus and Illinois linebacker Nate Bussey in the seventh.

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This report courtesy of The Sports Xchange.

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