Reviewing the Draft: New Orleans Saints

Even though New Orleans struggles as a franchise on the field the team continues to add talent through the draft every year and 2004 was no exception. Value seemed to be the theme in the New Orleans draft room as the Saints ignored needs for the best overall player early in the process then selected prospects with high character and good potential with their later picks. 

Few things happened in this years draft that were more shocking then Will Smith falling to the eighteenth overall pick.  Smith is a big time pass rusher that would be a starter on most NFL teams and was excellent value for New Orleans in round one.  While the presence of Darren Howard and Charles Grant relegate Smith to a situational defender, the Saints now have one of the best group of young defensive ends in the league.  Don't be surprised if Jim Hasslett has his new defensive star line-up over tight end at linebacker during certain situations to get his best players on the field. Devery Henderson gives the Saints another burner at wide receiver.  The second round choice should be an immediate fan favorite after spending 2003 with the defending national champions LSU Tigers.  Henderson's arrival deepens an already talented corps of receivers for the Saints and should help motivate some of the veterans on the roster and potentially kick-start third year pass catcher Donte' Stallworth into health. Courtney Watson is a heady and dependable linebacker that plays with great intangibles.  While round two may have been a little early for his services, the Saints decision to select him is a good omen as Watson could develop into a long term leader of this defense quickly. Rodney Leisle gives the team another young defensive lineman to add to their rotation.  Leisle has good growth potential and plays with a great motor, which the franchise hopes will rub off on Jonathan Sullivan. Mike Karney was brought in to provide depth at fullback and another blocker for Deuce McAllisterColby Bockwoldt gives New Orleans a high character linebacker that offers insurance and depth as well as a prospect with a high upside.

New Orleans took a departure this year adding high effort players rather than just collecting athletes.  But yet again the team ignored it's primary need, cornerback.  Still, the defensive front seven should be better because of the up tempo competition that the four new rookies bring.  And though the Saints continue to get better personnel wise, coach Jim Haslett must prove he can help these players make strides as a team.  If the addition of six hard working rookies pays off sooner rather then later New Orleans could become a playoff team next year. If they do not then the team may start over with a new coach.

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