Saints' Loomis talks about Deuce, McKenzie

In the second part of this question and answer session, New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis talks about the Saints' preparation for the NFL Draft, along with RB Deuce McAllister and CB Mike McKenzie, this weekend. is offering an unprecedented subscription offer for new subscribers — three months for the price of one. Sign up for a one-month subscription and get the next two months for free. You'll get Saints news from the Draft to Training Camp every day! Click here to go to our subscription page and take advantage of this offer.

Looking at where you're picking this year as opposed to last year, do you take into consideration how much the player can contribute right away?

Mickey Loomis: I think there's an expectation when you're picking in the top 10 that that guy is going to come in and be a contributor right away. The pressure that that guy has on him and that we have on us to select a player that can contribute right away is much greater than a year ago when we were picking in the 20s and we were getting a player that didn't have those kind of expectations on him, or at least they weren't as great, so maybe you had a little more time to bring him along. With the way that contract values are and expectations, we in the front office and our coaches and the media put on these guys, (the pressure) is much greater at pick 10. At the end of the day, you're not going to put a player on the field that's not ready to play regardless of where you take him.

In the evaluations that you've made on these players, would you say that it's a deep draft?

Mickey Loomis: I think we would say that it's a good year. Every year, I read that it's not a very good year it seems like, but there are always a lot of guys that have an impact right away and then there are guys that develop and end up being elite players in the league from every draft. There are good players out there; we just have to find them.

Is there a specific player that you would be going after when you talk to teams about trading up?

Mickey Loomis: Yes.

You've talked about the possibility of moving up and the value of having a top 10 pick. Is it fair to say that you'd have to be overwhelmed to move down out of the top 10?

Mickey Loomis: I don't know that you have to be overwhelmed, but you certainly have to feel like you're going to get good value and that when you do pick that you're going to get a good player that has good value at the selection point. We've moved down in the past, but I don't really foresee us doing that this year. But you never know. I don't know who's going to be taken in those nine picks in front of us and that might cause us to say, ‘Wait a minute, let's slide back,' if that opportunity comes to us. I wouldn't want to close the door on moving down. At this point, I haven't had any discussions with anyone about moving backwards.

Do you treat the draft differently if you feel like your team can win this year in that you'd rather get as many players that can help right away and not in developmental positions?

Mickey Loomis: I think you always go in with the attitude that you want to compete for the championship right now, that's just the way that this league is. I think part of it is when you look at your own roster, how many spots are up for grabs? What are the chances of someone making your team? The first round is considerably different than the later rounds, but you're always conscious of, ‘Can this player make our team?' I don't think there's a conscious decision on our part. We're just trying to improve our team, regardless of where you think you're at in the hierarchy of the league.

Looking at the group of running backs and not fully knowing the status of Deuce McAllister, does that influence you as far as maybe taking a running back earlier than you might?

Mickey Loomis: It could. It depends on when we're picking and who's available. There are some good running backs in this draft, no question about it, but that's one of those things that's going to be a draft day decision — who's there when we're picking? If the best football player available at the time that we're picking happens to be a running back, we're not going to shy away from it.

Has Robert Meachem done anything in the offseason to ease your concern about the wide receiver position?

Mickey Loomis: He's done a lot. He's had to this point what we would characterize as a great offseason. He's worked very hard and really never took any time off from the end of last season. He's worked with David Patten, who is a great role model for him, he's in great shape, he doesn't have any of the issues with his knee that he had a year ago and he's done a great job in the weight room in the offseason conditioning program to date and he did a lot of work before he came to us and he looks fantastic. There's a determination that you can hear in his voice and see in his eyes about wanting to prove that he was worthy of being a first-round pick, so we feel real good about Robert Meachem right now

Was there ever a time during last year's regular season that he was 100 percent healthy?

Mickey Loomis: Maybe toward the end of the year in practice we saw some flashes of what we anticipated from him, but that knee bothered him for quite a while.

Is your situation complicated by the fact that Deuce is coming off of a serious injury and Mike McKenzie is coming off of a serious injury? Do you sort of have to project where these guys will be come training camp and the start of the regular season?

Mickey Loomis: I would say that yes, that definitely impacts us to some degree, but we're optimistic about both of those guys. Mike is doing really well in his rehab and Deuce is doing really well in his, so we're optimistic about both of those guys. I talk to their doctors and their trainers once a week just monitoring their progress and everything we've heard so far has been real positive — no setbacks — and that's encouraging."

You said you used your fourth-round pick on Vilma. Is there another condition to that trade?

Mickey Loomis: There are some conditions that would take place after the season and into next year's draft. I'd rather not disclose those at this time, but if they happen they'll become evident.

Without naming any players in particular, are there any reports that you want to refute?

Mickey Loomis: I'm not going to make any reference to any of the things that have been written.

Saints RB Deuce McAllister will be back in a Saints uniform in 2008. But what about 2009 and beyond? That's a good question. obtained the remainder of McAllister's contract information and examines why that deal could turn the recent drama over McAllister's future in New Orleans into a yearly ritual. The story includes McAllister's potential cap hit in 2009 and why releasing him then — and not earlier this week — may make more sense for the Saints. Click here to access this exclusive.

Is New Orleans' draft strategy showing?'s Matthew Postins and reporter Adam Caplan put their heads together recently to discuss which players have visited with the Saints and how that could affect their draft strategy. Get the scoop by clicking right here.

Matthew Postins is unveiling his final Saints mock draft. Who does he think the Saints will select? Check out his daily picks so far below:

Round 3.

Round 5.

Round 6.

Round 7.

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