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Friday, 08 April 2011 11:38
New Orleans Saints NFL Draft Needs Are Many
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Ed StatonThe Saints have the 24th selection in the first round of the NFL Draft and 56th in the second round where they may be considering targeting a prospect like Villanova offensive tackle Ben Ijalana, who has generated a lot of hype the past few days, especially from teams picking in the bottom of the first round.

Starting offensive left tackle Jerom Bushrod will be a free agent whenever a new CBA is agreed upon and while he may be solid at times, has struggled in pass protection. The depth behind him is minimal as second-year pro Charles Brown is an unproven commodity with little actual game experience.

Tags: New Orleans Saints, New Orleans, NFL, NFL Draft, Bushrod, Charles Brown, Ben Iljalana, Reggie Bush
Bushrod moves well enough in the running game, but suffers from unrefined technique and low confidence in pass protection.

Defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker are considered the Saints' most pressing needs making the drafting of an offensive tackle with their top pick somewhat confusing.

So far the Saints have met with the following prospects: California defensive end Cameroon Jordan, OSU running back Kendall Hunter, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Syracuse running back Delone Carter, Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, Temple defensive tackle Muhammaad Wilkerson, North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant, Texas A&M defensive lineman Frank Kearse, Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Texas cornerback Curtis Brown.

The Saints drafting a running back isn't out of the question and the Saints could draft Mark Ingram if he's available.

Defensive end and outside linebacker are greater needs. Pierre Thomas is re-signed, Reggie Bush is expected to stay and Chris Ivory is recovering from foot surgery, all the Saints have to do  is think back to the end of last season when they ran out of running backs.

Ijalana, an All-America last season, was unable to participate in drills at the Combine because of an injury. However, scouts said he is good enough to be a first or second-round pick.
This year's NFL Draft could come and go without two running backs picked in the first round for the first time since 1963. Top running back picks don't produce too much because they are usually injured. Of the past six first-round running backs selected (three each in 2009 and 2010), we're still waiting for a breakthrough season from any of them per Don Banks of "Last season's first-round rushers all struggled to stay healthy. The Bills' C.J. Spiller, the Chargers' Ryan Matthews and the Lions' Jahvid Best. And in the case of 2009's first-round's draft class, injuries have have also cut the production and impact of the Broncos' Knowshon Moreno, the Colts' Donald Brown and the Cardinals' Beansie Wells. The emergence of undrafted running backs like 2010  NFL rushing leader Arian Foster of the Texans, LeGarrette Blount of the Bucs and Chris Ivory of the Saints only underscores the reality that there are plenty of quality running backs beyond the first round. Why pay the likes of Reggie Bush, Lawrence Maroney, Marshawn Lynch and Felix Jones first-round money when there so many more productive talents available for cheap?"...

Les Miles on his quarterbacks: "I like the improvement  shown by by all three quarterbacks, seniors Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee and sophomore Zach Mettenberger. Zach's certainly improving and his throws are really good. I could see where he could take strides this summer and really be in a position to compete in the fall."  Jefferson is still the starter...Chad Gaudin of Metairie has nade the Nationals roster as a relief pitcher after being released by the Yankees last season. He's 0-1...

Former Hornets owner George Shinn will announce on Monday  a substantial contribution to The Salvation Army. The money will go to funding to help create housig opportunities for families in the New Orleans area...

Former LSU and NFL tight end Greg LaFleur allegedly decided to visit a prostitute during his recent trip to Houston for the Final Four. As a result, it cost him his job as athletic director at Southern University. Southern chancellor Kofi Lomotey said LeFleur simply couldn't continue to run the athletic department after he was charged with solicitation of a prostitute. After playing at LSU, LeFleur was a third-round draft choice of the Eagles in 1981. He never played with the Eagles, but he played every game for five seasons with the Cardinals before finishing his playing career...

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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