Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
Now that the New Orleans Saints 2014 NFL Draft is in the books, what should we think? If you read my draft preview column from last week, you know there won’t be many complaints from me.
The Saints did exactly what I wanted in round one. The only thing I got wrong was the player who the Saints picked. I wanted Odell Beckham Jr. from LSU but instead the Saints grabbed Brandin Cooks of Oregon State.
Besides the Saints winning, the most important thing is the games being fun. Cooks will bring the fun. From all reports he is a confident, incredibly focused and hard working player. Oh, and he is blazing fast. In other words, Drew Brees is going to love him.
Fun offseason optimism fueled prediction -- Cooks will have the biggest rookie impact on offense since Marques Colston and Reggie Bush in 2006. If Cooks is healthy, I see him delivering 50 plus receptions and a serious jolt to the mediocre return game.
Also let the record show Mickey Loomis is a wizard. He traded up from pick 27 in the first round to 20 to grab the player the Saints targeted. If the Saints had stayed at 27 they likely would have missed out on the top four receivers and top cornerbacks. They’d have been stuck reaching for a player perhaps not worthy of getting picked in round one or perhaps trading down.
Loomis managed to move up seven spots for only a third round pick when history says a move like that costs more. Buffalo gave up 2015 first and fourth round picks to move up five slots to draft receiver Sammy Watkins. Trading up in theory seems easy, but give Loomis credit for not panicking and overpaying. We’d all be a lot less excited about Cooks if the Saints had given up a lot more to get him.
As for the rest of the Saints draft I’m not going to throw out grades because no one has any idea how good players will be but here are some random thoughts…
2nd Round Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB Nebraska
Apparently the only thing Rob Ryan likes more than celebrating wins at Ms. Mae’s is gigantic-sized corners. Baptiste is tall but even highly first-round rookie corners usually struggle so don’t expect Baptiste to be Richard Sherman from day one.
He is a converted receiver so best case scenario is the Saints ease him into the lineup. If Baptiste is starting early it will probably mean Champ Bailey is hurt and Corey White hasn’t improved at all.
I do endorse the selection because Stanley Jean-Baptiste sounds like the villain from the next pirate movie Johnny Depp makes. ARRRR interception Jean-Baptiste! He just made a quarterback walk the plank. Pirate jokes are the best.
Random Guys With Bad Knees
The Saints spent most of Saturday picking guys with injured knees. Khairi Fortt and Ronald Powell both had knee surgeries and cadaver ligaments put in. Having two healthy knees was optional for the Saints on day three of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The last time the Saints drafted a player from California in the fourth round who had a cadaver ligament put in his knee, it ended badly. In the fourth round in 2005, the Saints selected Cal receiver Chase Lyman and he had the same procedure as Fortt. Lyman tore the repaired knee in rookie mini camp, retired, and never even suited up for the Saints.
So Fortt has a low bar to jump over to be best cadaver ligament receiving Saint ever. Powell injured his knee twice at Florida but was he was #1 high school defensive player in 2010.
Let’s look on the bright side; the Saints are probably due to draft a decent linebacker. Saints linebackers drafted since 2002 are a fraternity of sadness. That list of linebackers includes James Allen, Cie Grant, Courtney Watson, Alfred Fincher, Marvin Mitchell, Stanley Arnoux, Martez Wilson, Nate Bussey, and Rufus Johnson. That is a lot of terrible linebackers.
Drafting linebackers might be Mickey Loomis’ only flaw as a GM. Repeat after me, “Being selected by the New Orleans Saints is a NOT death sentence for a linebacker.” Maybe if we all say it enough times it will become true. Khairi and Ronald good luck because you’ll need it.
The Saints continued selecting injured players when they grabbed Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri with one of their two fifth-round picks. He tore up his knee midway through the 2013 season, but the good news is the Saints say he’ll be ready for training camp.
Defensive backs that play for Nick Saban are always smart and Saban usually gets the most out of them. Saban defensive backs in the NFL usually have a high floor and low ceiling. I’d compare Sunseri to Roman Harper. Harper got drafted in 2006 and played right away, which was good, but he never seemed to get any better, which was bad. If Sunseri is 50 percent as productive as Harper, that is a home run in the fifth round.
The Saints ended the draft grabbing tackle Tavon Rooks of Kansas State. No idea who he is as I have never watched a Kansas State football game from start to finish in my entire life. He’s a lineman so I bet he has really big feet.
So the Saints drafted an awesome little receiver, a giant pirate cornerback, three guys with only three good knees between them, and a tackle. We have no idea what the Saints have, but at least most of the picks were interesting, which made the draft fun.
Three months until football, people. Three short months…
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on Facebook, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.