METAIRIE, La. — With no second round pick in this week’s NFL Draft, it’s possible that one of the safest moves for the New Orleans Saints would be to move down and grab a few more selections.
After all, General Manager Mickey Loomis said his scouting crew has fewer than 32 first-round grades on players and nearly 50 second-round grades. And in a draft where the consensus is that it is deep at the cornerback and defensive line position, there would appear to be more bang for the buck.
But there’s only one problem.
You have to have two to tango.
“Opportunity comes into play,” Loomis said during his pre-draft news conference earlier this week. “If you’re not getting calls to move back – there has been a couple of occasions where there have been a number of players where we thought hey we can move back and still get one of our guys but we didn’t have the opportunity.
“Either we didn’t get a call or the calls we made weren’t responded to favorably. We’re more than willing to move back if the opportunity presents itself.”
The Saints have never traded back in the first round under Loomis. New Orleans has, however, traded up, the most notable being to grab defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis in the 2008 draft.
While Loomis is unafraid to pull a trade, however, he is wary of making the wrong move, one that pushes the Saints too far up the draft or too far down.
“Obviously there's a point where I'd think we'd be willing to move back, but there's a point where we don't want to move too far,” he said. “And the same thing with moving forward. So there's probably a group of 10-12 teams on either side of this that I'll touch base with."
The Saints lost their second-round pick as part of the league’s punishment for what it termed a three-year bounty program administered by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
New Orleans asked for it back but the league denied the request, leaving the Saints without a pick in a draft that is heavy in second-round talent.
However, the Saints have filled needs this offseason, grabbing cornerback Keenan Lewis, linebacker Victor Butler and defensive end Kenyon Coleman in free agency. That helps Loomis use the 15th pick for taking the best player available, one that might not necessarily fill a specific need more than taking care of adding depth.
“It gives you some flexibility and yet you know you're going to get the opportunity to select a good player if you just sit tight, somebody that we have confidence that can come in immediately as well as be a good player for a long term for us,” Loomis said.