When either Ego Ferguson or Anthony Johnson get drafted during the May NFL draft it will mark the 11th straight year the LSU Tigers have provided a defensive lineman to the NFL via the draft.
No other school in college football can make that statement today and the Tigers have in my opinion the next breakout star defensive lineman in Danielle Hunter.
The 6-5, 255 pound defensive end was the most dominant defensive player in the spring for the Tigers and the former Morton Ranch High School in Texas standout has many admirers on the team.
“Danielle had a super spring,” said LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins. “He is just a terrific athlete with real long arms and he is explosive off the snap. He has gotten stronger and he is just not beating people with speed, but with “power” moves also. I’m glad he is on our side and we don’t have to play against him. He’s a special talent.”
Last season Hunter recorded 57 tackles, 8 tackles for losses, 3 quarterback sacks and 5 quarterback hurries.
Watch out for #94 in 2014.
Former Thibodaux High School and Auburn star offensive tackle Greg Robinson will go down as the highest drafted offensive lineman from the state of Louisiana in the modern day era of the NFL draft.
Robinson could go as high as the second overall pick, and if he is drafted within the top 5 choices he will join an elite group of players that either played high school football in Louisiana or went to a Louisiana college and was a top-5 pick since the leagues merged their drafts back in 1967.
Robinson would join:
Since 2006 when Sean Payton took over as head coach the New Orleans Saints will start the season on the road for the first two games for the third time.
The Saints started both the 2006 and 2007 season on the road for the first two games and in 2014 they do it again with games on the road against the Atlanta Falcons and the Cleveland Browns.
From 1967 up until 2005 the New Orleans Saints started the season with back to back road games only once, and that was in 2001 against the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.
The Saints started the 2005 season with back to back road games because of the affects to the Superdome due to Hurricane Katrina, but the second game in 2005 was supposed to be in New Orleans against the New York Giants and not on the Giants home turf.
One player making major strides on draft boards across the NFL scene is Rice University cornerback Phillip Gaines. I have Gaines rated as the 13th best cornerback and a late 3rd round selection and the scouts are starting to see just how good of a cover cornerback the speedy 6-0 ¼, 193 pounder is.
Gaines set a new Rice record by recording 38 pass break-ups throughout his college career. In 2013 the former track star allowed only 13 catches in 40 targeted throws.
While he has good size, tremendous leaping skills and excellent speed Gaines has missed time due to multiple injuries in college and he needs to spend more time in the weightroom to physically get stronger, but he has the size and recovery speed that would make him an excellent pick-up in the third round.
Coaches at Rice University told me last week that the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and the New England Patriots have shown the most interest in Gaines.
Since 2000 there have been just 2 NFL drafts that we have seen 5 wide receivers selected within the first 25 selections. This year may be the third draft since 2000 with 5 wide receivers picked within the top 25 picks.
One play that has become a “red hot” commodity has been LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham.
Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M end Mike Evans look to have secured spots in the top 10 selections for 2014 and Beckham has steadily moved up the draft boards throughout his junior campaign.
While I have never scouted a Tiger wide receiver who could run better routes and has better hands than Tiger teammate Jarvis Landry, Beckham has emerged as the clear-cut third best receiver in the Class of 2014 and there are a few teams that have a major interest in acquiring the speedy wide receiver/return specialist.
There is a lot of speculation that the San Francisco 49ers with 6 selections in the top-100 have a keen interest in moving up to add Texas A&M king-size wide receiver Mike Evans to the lineup, but they would have to move to a top 10 spot to select him and many teams in that spot don’t want to trade down that far, despite getting extra picks.
Speculation is that the 49ers have a great deal of interest in moving to a teens pick in Round One to select the former Tiger star end and he would be the 49ers version of what the Seattle Seahawks have in Percy Harvin at wide receiver.
Right now the 49ers are trying to match the NFL version of the “Jones” in the Seattle Seahawks.
If that occurs that could well affect what the New Orleans Saints may do also in Round One.
Two weeks ago in this spot I wrote that the Saints would have to move up in Round One to select either Beckham-really move up for that choice or make a short run up the draft board to select either Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks or USC end Marquise Lee.
Two general managers who have teams that pick before the Saints do at #27 told me this week they believe the Saints will try and move up in Round One to get either Cooks or Lee.
“There is still some draft board shuffling to happen between now and May 8th, but as a team we speculate that those 5 receivers will be gone before the Saints pick at 27,” the NFC general manager said. “The Saints are looking for that deep threat. It would add so much to what Sean Payton already has and he is really one of the few brilliant offensive minds in the game. There will be a good linebacker or cornerback there for them to pick if they stay put, but either Cooks or Lee could add that “over the top” speed guy that could make that offense special. Marques Colston healthy is still a very effective player due to his great size and his ability to work the inside routes. Kenny Stills was a steal for the Saints. He is going to be a very good player, especially in the slot position. That “speed” element teamed up with Jimmy Graham could be lethal for opposing teams to match up against and to be honest late in the draft I really think they will pick a speed/all-purpose halfback to take Darren Sproles’ spot. Payton works the backs just so well as receivers and it’s tough to match up against those type guys. The New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs all need wide receivers. I really think Mickey ( Loomis), with some encouragement I should say from Sean, will try to trade up to get one of those two big-play elements. If not, I could see them trading back and I agree with you 100% that one player as a second round pick that would be great for them would be Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief, but he may not be there late in Round 2 either. I could see 15 wide receivers selected within the first 65 picks. To be honest I see as many as 15 wide receivers picks in the top 65 and probably 12 cornerbacks too. It’s just a great class of wide outs and cornerbacks.”
It has come to our attention that the last two pages of some of the Mike Detillier's Draft Guides were missing. You can download those pages here.
For the past few weeks I have shared some past New Orleans Saints memories as told to me by legendary sports broadcaster Buddy Diliberto and his writings and commentaries at that time.
The response from the stories has been terrific and so here is another Buddy D draft day story.
"In 1972 the Saints finished 2-11-1 and John Mecom, the owner at that time, decided to give J.D. Roberts another year as head coach," said Diliberto. "The first move he made in 1973 was to give Dick Gordon the job as Saints executive vice president/general manager. Gordon was a Houston friend of Mecom and a former astronaut. Gordon was really mobbed wherever he went because at that time astronauts were like rock stars and he was a very intelligent guy, but he didn't know anything about pro football, other than watching it."
"The Saints had the second overall pick in the 1973 draft behind the Houston Oilers and the best player in that draft was LSU quarterback Bert Jones, but the Saints had Archie Manning and the Oilers had Dan Pastorini. Neither was going to select Jones to keep him so the consensus was that one of those two teams would trade the rights or the position to select Jones and get back a king’s ransom. That also was a very talent rich draft, but days before the draft I got a call from John Steadman, who is one of the legends in the newspaper business in Baltimore and he covered the Baltimore Colts. He told me the buzz was that the Colts were trying to make a deal with the Saints for the second overall pick. "
"The Colts had the 10th overall pick that year and an early second round pick and so my first thoughts were that the Saints would be stockpiling picks and this was a really bad team so they needed all the help they could get, but the official word came in that the Saints dealt the second overall pick in the draft to Baltimore for defensive end Billy Newsome and the Colts fourth round pick-which they used to select a solid linebacker in Jim Merlo, but got no value at all in that deal.
But to be honest it did seem like something this crazy organization would do. I immediately called former Saints quarterback Billy Kilmer who was with the Washington Redskins and he told me that Newsome was a pretty good player, but he wasn't worth anything near that type of pick and that he really thought the Saints got suckered again. And sure enough he was right and it has to go down as one of the worst trades in the history of this franchise and it became a pattern with them and the Colts. First the trade for quarterback Gary Cuozzo in exchange for the top pick in the 1967 draft (defensive end Bubba Smith, a third round pick that same year and a good center prospect in Bill Curry-who they got in the expansion draft from the Green Bay Packers) and then they traded a second round pick to the Colts in 1969 for running back Tony Lorick, who had knee issues and the Colts used that pick to select linebacker Ted Hendricks and he is in the NFL Hall of Fame.
The guy behind the scenes in Baltimore was former Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom and he traded franchises in 1972 with Robert Irsay and now he was the owner of the Los Angeles Rams and the Saints and Rams were in the same division. Rosenbloom had gotten close to Mecom personally and Mecom believed anything Rosenbloom told him. He later hired Carroll's son, Steve, to be the Saints general manager in the late 1970's. I was told that Carroll had a lot to do with talking Mecom into that deal. Steadman told me that Joe Thomas, the general manager of the Colts, told him that he was willing to give up just about anything to get Bert Jones, but the Saints took his original proposal, not on the spot, but after the owner approved it. Mecom took the original offer and a lot of problems with this team early on was that they had no one in the organization that had a strong opinion about anything and many times they were just taking the advice of others. That deal was a perfect example along with the Cuozzo and Lorick trades and the decision to spit in the face of the commissioner Pete Rozelle and sign Dave Parks away from the San Francisco 49ers in Year 2 and the Commissioner forced them to give up two first round picks in exchange for tight end Dave Parks.
John Mecom, Sr., told me at that time the decision to sign Parks and try to get him for nothing was something Carroll Rosenbloom talked his son into doing. I think this was the first shot of an NFL owner to openly try and force some form of free agency, but Rosenbloom let Mecom take the bullet for him because he was eyeing a move to Los Angeles and he thought that the lure of playing in California would appeal to many players. Mecom was suckered into that situation with everything early on and really until the day he sold the team."
"In that 1973 draft with the second pick they could have selected John Hannah from Alabama who goes down as one of the all-time greats at offensive guard or halfback Chuck Foreman, who was the guy I think they would have picked had they kept the choice, tackle Jerry Sizemore who was a really good NFL player or defensive tackle Dave Butz, but they virtually got nothing back from a value standpoint, nothing. Newsome was a pretty good player and they actually got back a first round pick in exchange for him from the New York Jets, but Bert Jones when healthy was one of the NFL's best quarterbacks and the Saints got a solid starter at defensive end-who also had some deep off the field problems and a decent linebacker. It goes down as one of the worst trades ever for this franchise and that is saying a mouthful. The one good thing about that draft was that they picked defensive tackle Derland Moore from Oklahoma in the second round. Derland has to go down as one of the best and most underrated football players this franchise ever had. The younger group of reporters today never give him his props as a Saints football player, but he was a really good football player and one of the toughest guys around. He was one of the few players along with Archie Manning that every personnel person and coach would ask me about during the off-season. "
With the May 8th NFL draft approaching quickly here is my take at Round One.
1st Round Projections
1. Houston Texans — Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. St. Louis Rams (from Wash. R.) — Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
4. Cleveland Browns — Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
5. Oakland Raiders — Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
6. Atlanta Falcons — Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Minnesota Vikings — Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
9. Buffalo Bills — Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
10. Detroit Lions — Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
11. Tennessee Titans — Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
12. New York Giants — Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
13. St. Louis Rams — Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
14. Chicago Bears — Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
15. Pittsburgh Steelers — Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
16. Dallas Cowboys — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
17. Baltimore Ravens —Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
18. New York Jets — Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
19. Miami Dolphins — Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
20. Arizona Cardinals — Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
21. Green Bay Packers — Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
22. Philadelphia Eagles — Marqise Lee, WR, USC
23. Kansas City Chiefs — Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
24. Cincinnati Bengals — Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
25. San Diego Chargers — Dee Ford, DE./OLB, Auburn
26. Cleveland Browns(from Indy Colts) — Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
27. New Orleans Saints — C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
28. Carolina Panthers — Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
29. New England Patriots — Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
30. San Francisco 49ers — Jason Verrett, CB., TCU
31. Denver Broncos — Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
32. Seattle Seahawks — Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
It is less than a month before the NFL draft and for at least one team what they do in the three-day event in May will lead them to a Super Bowl title.
For the 2014 New Orleans Saints the reach is close. The Saints , along with the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts, are the clear-cut top teams in the league today and the right choices in May could well be the catalyst to put them in the Big Show.
The Saints have addressed some obvious needs in free agency in acquiring one of the elite free safeties in the game in Jairus Byrd, one of the all-time great cornerbacks in Champ Bailey-who at 36 years old will most likely be the #3 or nickel cornerback for the squad and a heavy duty lead blocker/H-back in Eric Lorig.
The holes on this football team are depth at the center spot with second-year center/guard Tim Lelito the likely starter, a “stretch the field” wide receiver, another cover cornerback or two and another starter type at linebacker, if he were available.
In Round One most would love to see LSU’s Odell Beckham, USC’s Marqise Lee or Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks on the board for the Saints, but it is highly unlikely any of the three will be there.
There is no center in this draft class that will be picked in Round One.
So that could well mean that the Saints go the route of a linebacker or cornerback in the opening round, if they stay pat at #27 spot.
With five receivers likely off the board in Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Beckham, Cooks and Lee and tight end Eric Ebron that means a defensive player will be pushed to late first round pick status.
Coming out of the LSU Spring game the one thing that really stood out was how talented the LSU offensive line was. The Tigers return 4 starters from a year ago including tackles La’el Collins and Jerald Hawkins, offensive center Elliot Porter and offensive guard Vadal Alexander.
All four will get a chance to play at the next level and three of them, Collins, Hawkins and Alexander are potential early round selections.
In addition the Tigers bring back a very gifted sophomore center in Ethan Pocic, who could potentially start at either guard or tackle and there is quite at battle for the final starting spot at guard between Evan Washington and Fehoko Fanaika-who is 6-5 ¾, 342 pounds.
While there will be plenty of debate about the quarterback situation between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, and both are in the growing stages of their development, LSU’s offensive line is the real strength on the 2014 football team for talent and depth.
In the past LSU’s offensive line was known for their run blocking, but what I saw was dramatic improvement on the technical side as pass blockers with the addition of Jeff Grimes as their new offensive line coach.
It’s early, but Grimes could do what LSU wide receivers coach Adam Henry did when he hit the Baton Rouge campus and that is raise the level of play of the talent on hand.
With the young players in place and the potential of one of the most lucrative recruiting classes ever at LSU in 2014 the Tigers look like a team that could play for all the college football marbles in 2015.