Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
“He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails is a failure in his whole being.”-- Paul Tillich
The Saints did everything I wanted them to do last night except have a pizza delivered to my house. It’s like Mickey Loomis read my column yesterday and thought it was a ‘How to’ guide for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Add impact defensive player for the front seven. DONE. Mortgage part of the future to try and win more Super Bowls now. CHECK. While Bill Belichick continues to stockpile picks for the future off past the horizon the Saints GM Mickey Loomis admitted the Drew Brees Era must be enjoyed like there’s no tomorrow.
"I think this, with Drew (Brees) and the team we have now, we have a window of opportunity. We want to do everything we can during that window."
The Saints gave up a 2012 #1 pick to move back into round one to grab Mark Ingram and succeeded in trading up to grab the running back they wanted. They tried the same thing in 2009 to get Beanie Wells but failed but it worked out because they got a great season out of Mike Bell who filled the power runner role during the Super Bowl run. In 2010 injuries hit the running back position hard, they dropped to 28th in rushing, and Brees had to carry the load on offense and threw 22 interceptions. I don’t think the Saints being 28th in rushing and Brees throwing a career high number of interceptions is coincidence.
Mark Ingram, if healthy, his floor is Dalton Hilliard and his ceiling is George Rogers. If I told you Ingram is going to run for 3,732 yards and score and 20 touchdowns the next three years would you give up a second round for it? I would. Those stats are George Rogers three non-strike seasons as a Saint. Sean Payton has had one, thousand-yard rusher (Deuce McAllister in 2006) and still has had a top five offense every year. How good will the Saints be if Ingram rushes for say 1,100 yards? The Saints offense could be incredible if Ingram is just slightly above average and if he’s elite America will hate the Saints as they travel the country bludgeoning defenses.
Could Drew Brees get abducted by aliens and the Saints go 2-14 in 2011? Possibly, but no one will care because the Saints won’t have a first round pick as we are all scared aliens will ship us off to Pluto.
The Saints took a risk but it’s not like they gave up five draft choices for a receiver. Atlanta channeled their inner Mike Ditka and moved up to get Alabama receiver Julio Jones. The only thing missing was Mike Smith wearing a dread-locked wig.
History says trading a boatload of picks for any player is usually a bad idea. The Falcons think they are two players away from a title. They aren’t. Carolina picking Cam Newton is a fail too, so last night was fantastic because NFC South teams aren’t significantly better.
While we all have a serious case of Ingramania lets not forget about the Saints other prize from last night, Cameron Jordan. All the draft analysts were surprised he fell all the way to 24 and say he’s a great ‘draft value’.
‘Draft value’ is one of those terms people throw around but it has absolutely no meaning. Jordan got picked 10 spots too low. So what? I don’t care where a player is rated, what interests me is what does he do well on the field.
The Saints think Jordan will be able to play defensive end and defensive tackle. Gregg Williams loves lineman who play multiple positions. Anthony Hargrove was a great story during 2009. He overcame drug addiction and had 32 tackles and 5 sacks. He also could play both end and tackle. In 2010 he only had 21 tackles and 1 sack. Looks to me like the Saints are expecting Jordan to fill the same role.
Last night was the most fun draft for the Saints since 2006. The Reggie Bush pick was more celebration than draft. Reggie all but officially ended the Bush era when he tweeted last night, “It’s been fun New Orleans.” Bush didn’t quite work out like we all hoped so declaring victory the day after a draft is never certain.
The Saints don’t need Jordan and Ingram to save them. Give me 1,100 yards and 7 sacks and the Saints will be playing deep into January.
Was last night risky? From signing Drew Brees to an onside kick in the Super Bowl, risk is how the Saints got to the top and apparently how they plan to stay there. Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, or follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough