Saints GM talks about the draft

In the first part of this question and answer session, New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis talks about the Saints' preparation for the NFL Draft this weekend. Watch for Part II on Thursday.

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Opening statement

Mickey Loomis: We've had what I think is a productive offseason so far. We've been able to re-sign a number of our own unrestricted free agents, guys that contributed to our football team last year and in years past, and we've been able to add a few guys that we're excited about that we think can improve our team from a year ago. We have six draft picks this weekend. We've already started our draft — we used our fourth-round choice to select Jonathan Vilma from the New York Jets in a trade that we made with them. We feel like we're off to a good start. We're prepared, we're ready to go for this weekend and we're anxious to see what happens."

With the changes in time allowed per pick, do you see that affecting you?

Mickey Loomis: A little bit, in that I think you need to do a little more preliminary work with regard to trade discussions. We won't have as much time during the day to negotiate compensation if we're going to make a trade. You have to have a pretty good idea of what that might be ahead of time. At this point, that's the only impact that I can see. As far as draft day itself, that remains to be seen."

What positions do you perceive as the strongest in this draft?

Mickey Loomis: I don't know that I have a good answer for that yet. There are a lot of good players in this draft. We feel like we'll be able to get good players really throughout the draft. We like what we see defensively — we've had more focus on the defensive side of the ball just because of where we're at. But we like the group of players in the draft and I'm pretty confident that we'll get some good players. As to the specific positions, I don't think that I want to comment on that.

Are reports that you've inquired about the second pick accurate?

Mickey Loomis: I'll say this — we've talked to a number of teams in front of us about the possibilities of moving forward. It's all preliminary discussion; nothing concrete, just we've expressed a desire to talk about it with a number of teams.

Do you feel that you're in a position to be aggressive in moving up or down if there's a player that you like?

Mickey Loomis: I think that depends on what it costs to move, in effect. The first step is to get an idea of what the cost to move forward is going to be. That's really what the discussions to date have been; A — are you interested in moving backwards, B — what is your thinking in terms of compensation? There have been a few talks about that.

In general, you have seemed to have an aggressive philosophy in both directions. How do you view the draft and trades? Do you think that some teams shy away from trades?

Mickey Loomis: I don't know that anybody shies away from it, you're just looking to get value for your pick. Value is dependent upon how you view your own team. There have been cases in the past where we've wanted to move backwards and get more football players. There have been cases where we've had a specific guy targeted and have wanted to move forward to make that happen. I wouldn't want to speak for anyone else other than our own team, and it kind of depends on how you view yourself.

What is the goal of the team in regards to a new contract for Will Smith?

Mickey Loomis: I don't have a timetable for that. We've had some discussions in the past with Will and his agent and have recently had some discussions about his contract situation, but he's under contract for this year and hopefully we'll be able to work out a deal that works for him and works for us and have him for the long-term. I don't have a timetable for that — I'm not going to put a deadline because I think they're artificial anyway. Any time before free agency works for me and sometimes it's even during free agency. There's a desire on our part to have Will Smith be a part of our team in the future and I think there's a desire on Will's part to part of the Saints as well, so that's a good start.

How much can your draft board change in the final days leading up to the draft?

Mickey Loomis: There's some tinkering. It's generally not at the top of the board, but more in the middle and toward the end, but there's still some tinkering going on. You're using every minute and every piece of information that you can gather, and again our scouts and our coaches are doing a great job of looking at guys, re-looking at guys, collecting information and moving guys around a little bit. It's not dramatic, but I would call it tinkering.

It appears that Miami already has a deal with Jake Long to be the first overall pick. How strange is it to see that occur so far ahead of Saturday? Does that speed up things from your perspective in terms of talking to teams at two or three?

Mickey Loomis: It might. I don't know yet because I don't know what those teams in front of us are planning. It's been pretty well documented and written that they've been talking with Jake Long for a few days, so it's no surprise. I don't think it will impact the discussions that we have. At the end of the day, any trade that we make is more than likely — if it happens — going to happen during the draft, it's not going to happen before then.

The team has made some deals to add defensive backs in the offseason. Is it still a possibility that if Chevis Jackson were there in the second round that you might pick him up or are you guys set at corner?

Mickey Loomis: I wouldn't want to comment on who, or even on the position that we're looking at, but anything is a possibility. When you're talking about the second round or third round, you just don't know who's going to be available and who will be taken in front of you. All of our options are open at that point.

Where do you feel this team is talent-wise at this point heading into the draft?

Mickey Loomis: That's a good question. Generally, I think we're happy with our roster but obviously you're always looking to improve your team and we certainly can improve. We've had a top five offense the last two years and our defense hasn't been in the top five, so that's probably the side of the ball that we're going to look to. But again, we have a history here of taking the best football player available when we're drafting. Two years ago, that best football player wound up being Reggie Bush and there have been other times that we've taken players at positions that you wouldn't have thought we would select a player at. Our philosophy is going to remain the same. What we're hoping for is that the best available football player when we pick matches a position that we would call a need for a team.


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