New Orleans Saints' No. 1 Draft Priority: "Spread the Wealth"

Andrew BrownContributor IJanuary 28, 2009

Although the Super Bowl champion hasn't been determined yet, we, as WhoDat Nation, are at the crossroads where we look back at our past season with "what ifs" and look forward to next season with hope and longing.

More specifically, we are at the point where we start to look at next year's horizon and the 2009 NFL Draft. For the last few weeks, I've read article after article, blog after blog suggesting who the Saints should go after in the Draft:

"Maybe we should try to trade up to grab Malcolm Jenkins!"

"No, no! Laurinaitis is who we need!"

"Are you crazy? Rey Maualuga is our man!"

But what I want us to keep in mind is that if the Saints want to build a dynasty, the fellas that work at 5800 Airline Drive are going to have to draft well in the next couple of seasons. If they get greedy and try to focus on one specific player, we are destined to make seasons like 2008 a common occurrence.

So, what am I suggesting?  It's simple. When you look at the upcoming '09 draft, I think it's obvious that the smartest thing to do is trade down for more picks.

Let me explain:

1. Simply put, the Saints need more picks.

Many people will say that having quality picks (high picks) is better, and while I disagree with their notion, I will agree that it is definitely more popular.

However, our team is in the rare situation where the quantity of draft picks is much more important than the location as to where we are picking from.

It's no secret; the Saints traded numerous future picks for both Shockey and Vilma. I'm fine with what we gave up for Vilma but what we lost for Shockey is unforgivable. The Saints made the trade due to the lack of control that our Head Coach had on his emotions.

Payton was in love with Shockey and the Giants knew it.

Everybody knows the old rule when you're car shopping—if you love the car, don't let the car salesman see it. In this situation, Payton couldn't wipe the smile off of his face, and the Giants saw how Payton blushed every time Shockey's name was mentioned.

As a result, the Saints gave away too much for Shockey and while we can do nothing to change the past trades, the Saints need to find a way to get their picks back.

2. This year's draft class, particularly the projected first rounders, doesn't look to be anything extraordinary.

Not only were we in the position, both salary cap-wise and draft pick-wise, to trade down for a specific player, but last year, we also knew that Ellis or Dorsey would be a huge addition to our defensive line—not the case this year.

I think there are tons of hidden talent that will be found after the first round of the upcoming draft. Let's find them.

3. While some WhoDats might jump to argue with me, I strongly believe that the Saints' organization doesn't have one single dying need.

We could go around and around for years about what we need most. Do we need a big running back to help pick up the 3rd-and-short, so our defense can stay on the sideline longer?

Is it more offensive line depth? On the other side, is it more DL depth? Do we need another starting cornerback to lineup with Tracy Porter? Is it an outside linebacker to play alongside Vilma and Fujita? Or possibly a ball-hawk free safety?

To be fair to all views, I think we could all make reasonable cases for each cause.

So when a situation like this occurs, the only thing that can be done it to try to provide a little help to each. The only way to "spread the wealth" is through more picks.

How do we get more picks?

That's a good question. Quick warning—some folks might not like to hear what I'm about to say... But, the businessman in me thinks it's time to shake hands with a few of our players, thank them for their services, and place their names on NFL's shopping market.

Who could be some of these players? I would suggest the following:

*Charles Grant—Not producing enough for the money we're paying out; I think we could still get some value for him.

*Will Smith—See Charles Grant; One stays, one goes; Bobby McCray gets promoted.

*Pierre Thomas—Everybody knows his name right now and we could get some good draft picks. I know some people will hate the thought of trading him but let's remember that the NFL is a business in an industry where the best businessmen win championships. 

And on the business side of things, trading Thomas now makes perfect sense. Furthermore, consider the fact that we got him for relatively nothing (UDFA). He played well enough to be noticed around the league and he's going to want more money soon.  The same could be said about Lance Moore. 

As hard as it is for us fans to remember, football players are like stock. The best way to build a good, sturdy portfolio is to BUY LOW & SELL HIGH. The case of Thomas is Business 101.

*Jeremy Shockey—Thanks, but no thanks. I know we aren't going to part ways with him after just giving up so much for the guy, but for the record, I'll take Billy Miller and Mark Campbell any day of the week over Shockey. Both on the field and in the locker room. There's a time and a place to cut ties and count your losses.

*Robert Meachem or Devery Henderson—With Colston, Moore, Bush, Arrington, Miller, and Shockey most likely the running routes for Brees next year, we simply don't need both of these guys. We would have to sign Devery first before we could trade him, but I do believe that both Henderson and Meachem have value.

*Jason David—I think he still holds value as a nickel, dime, or Cover-Two Cornerback. He's no first or second round draft pick trade, but if we could even get a fourth or fifth for him, I'm fine with that.

Which, before you say I'm crazy, let's remember that he is coming off a five-interception season and almost everyone in the NFL knows he would most likely excel even more in a Cover or Tampa-Two defense.

What Could Trading Away Some of Our Players Do For Us?

Easy. The Saints could get more picks for the 2009 Draft and possibly even some draft picks for 2010.

Think about a few things...

Within the last three weeks I've heard about numerous guys that had my interest of staying in college another year. Spikes, Mays, Bradford, Hardy, Verner, etc., etc.

What that means to me is that next year will be loaded with talent. Imagine what our team could do if we had two picks in the 2010 first round.

My first suggestions are that the Saints trade our 2009 first round, 14th pick for a 2010 first round, 2009 second-round pick (and possibly a 2009 third or fourth-round pick depending on which team we dealt with).

I know that won't make some people happy—people that want to see a whole new team in '09—but long term, I think the Saints would see the most bang-for-their-buck if they took that path.

Also, before you shoot down the thought of trading away the Saints' 2009 first rounder, remember that both Porter (who will add to our CB unit), Pressely (who will give us more depth on the DL), and Arrington (a WR to help simmer Payton's constant desire to add more offense) will essentially be joining the '09 draft class.

If my suggested scenario took place, the Saints would be doubling up their 2010 first-round picks and would be picking up more picks in this year's second and third round.

And rest assured, if the Saints do their homework, they will definitely be able to find plenty of talent in the second and third this year—once again, if they have the picks.

Our coaches draft well...Let's give them ammo.


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