"We really didn't think think he would get down that far," said Saints coach Sean Payton on drafting running back Mark Ingram of Alabama with the 28th selection in the first round of Thursday night's draft. "Mark Ingram was someone that we thought a lot of..
"After picking Cameron Jordan in the first round, Mickey Loomis and I began to talk about that scenario. You have to find someone who is willing to do that. There were a few picks taking place. There was some confusion as to what was happening with Baltimore in their selection along with the Chiefs. Ultimately, New England was up and we were able to get a deal done.
"We are excited about both of these players. There is always that little bit of uncertainty as you head into the draft and that was the case this year. Mickey and I sat there and we talked about it and we both felt in regards to Mark felt real good about this player. We like him a lot in regards to what he brigns to the field, but off the field as well."
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said a team's draft getting an A grade doesn't mean much because you have to look at it three or four years from now.
He said first-round draft choice Cameron Jordan can play inside or outside on the defensive line, where his team needs improvement.
Excerpts from an interview with Loomis:
Can you talk to us about how the trade went down?
“I’ll be honest with you. We’re sitting there after our pick. Sean and I are sitting there and talking and it’s like how can we get Mark Ingram? And so we just started making some calls to the teams to the back of the draft, found a couple teams interested, obviously there was that deal with Baltimore and Kansas City. That leaves a little uncertainty. You don’t want to make a trade until you know who the picks are and what picks have been made in front of you. Once that was settled, New England called us back and wanted to make the deal. We’re excited about it, real excited.”
It’s funny how you guys are going to end up with A’s on the draft report cards because you ended up with two guys in the first round. Is it tough to give up a future first round pick?
“You don’t want to give us an A+? Those things are really meaningless, those grades. Let’s look back three or four years from now and see if this worked out and I think it will obviously or otherwise we wouldn’t have made that deal. It’s hard to give up any future pick. You have to feel good about the deal you’re making. You have to feel good about that value before you do that and obviously we do. I think part of it is this, with Drew and the team we have now, we have a window of opportunity and so we want to do everything we can do to take advantage of that opportunity and that’s why we made the deal.”
Do you think you addressed areas of need?
“I think I said before the draft that the front seven was an area of need for us. With Cameron (Jordan), I think we’ve done that, he will be a good addition to the group we have up front already and we think he’s a versatile player. He’s a guy that can play inside as well as play end for us. He’s a smart kid. He has an NFL pedigree with his father Steve Jordan. There are a lot of things to like about Cameron Jordan and then last year the experience we had going through running backs and injuries as opposed to the year before when we were able to run the ball effectively all year long, which plays into it. A the end of the year, we had the opportunity to get the best back in this draft and the last time that we were able to get a real strong running back was Deuce McAllister and it worked out pretty well. This guy has the same kind of character as Deuce so we’re excited to add him to Reggie (Bush), Pierre (Thomas) and Chris (Ivory) and we have a coach and an offensive staff that knows how to take advantage of weapons and so the more that we can give to them, the better off we’re going to be.”
How does this trade affect the rest of this draft. Would you like to get back in the second round?
“It’s a good question. I doubt that, but you never know. I wouldn’t have said at the beginning of the day that we were going to end up with two picks in the first round. I wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s not something that I’m thinking about or we’re thinking about right now.”
How do you feel about your needs now?
“I think when you get past that first round, you really just hoping that you will get some good players at any position. It’s too hard to speculate who’s going to be there, now that we’re voided in the second round, for us to speculate who’s going to be available in the third round, that’s a pretty difficult proposition. What we will do later tonight and tomorrow is reset our board, not reset it, but we’ll reexamine our board thinking about who are the players that might be available to us and what order we want them in.. We’ll look at that again against the roster we have.”
When you said earlier today that you thought that there would be a run on quarterbacks with five being picked, did you think that Jordan and Ingram would be going in the top 20 or that there would be a good chance they could fall to you?
“No, we didn’t think either would fall to us frankly. Yes, we had a group of nine players. Three were in the upper group and then the balance of six guys any of whom we’d be happy to have, but really four were above the others. We really expected all four to be gone. I wouldn’t have bet a nickel that any would have been there when we picked and two were there. That was a bonanza for us. We made an attempt to move up a few spots prior to picking at 24 and couldn’t make a deal. Sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t make.”
Did you think about how trading up didn’t work out a couple years ago to get Beanie Wells?
“Yes, I mentioned the same thing. Two years ago we tried to do the same thing and weren’t successful. It’s good to be successful. It feels good.”
This is the first time in a long time only one running back went in the first round. What made Ingram stand out?
“I’m not sure I really understand your question. Running backs are valuable in our league, still valuable. It’s become more of a passing league, so it probably devalues the running back from where it was ten years ago, but they’re still valuable players on any team, so obviously they’re valuable to us because we have two first round picks and we have Pierre Thomas who we just re-signed not long ago and we have an undrafted free agent we think high of in Chris Ivory. We like our group of running backs. Sean will find a way to use all of them.”
Does this not negatively affect your thoughts on Reggie Bush?
You want to keep him in the fold?
Do you feel good that you got two undervalued guys?
“Yes, we feel that way. It takes a while, a few years to judge that. We certainly feel good about this draft.”
Did Ingram’s toughness and ability to play through injury impress you?
“Yes, although, I would say this. We didn’t ever question his toughness if he weren’t able to go. He’s just a quality, quality kid. We had him in here for a visit. We knew a lot about him. We did a lot of research and a lot of work in that area. He just came up with A+ comments from everyone that we talked to about him. I think this is a kid of the character that we would have said of Deuce when we got him. Now he has to live up to that. That’s a pretty tall order, but he’s certainly got a good start on it.”
What do you expect happening tomorrow with the potential direction from the league?
“I’m going to address that tomorrow. I’m not really going to speak about that tonight.”
Rick Relprish, Saints director of college scouting, predicts Mark Ingram will his team more ball control on the ground this season.
The Saints won the Super Bowl with a good running game, but suffered with injury problems there last season and it cost them.
Excepts from an interview with Reiprish:
When you were sitting in here, did you guys know that you were making a trade to select Mark Ingram?
“That was what I got called out for. That was a part of the trade.”
Was that the offensive guy you had highly ranked you discussed earlier?
“I didn’t want to take this guy. Sean (Payton) didn’t want to take him, Mickey, the scouts…No, this guy was the other offensive player we talked about, very high on the board.”
You had both Jordan and Ingram both in a group that you hoped would fall to 24?
What do you like about Ingram?
“It’s hard to find something you don’t like about him. The only negative about this kid is he got hurt early in the year a little bit and didn’t quite play as well as he should have been. Towards the end of the year he started coming back into that Heisman Trophy form. He was a really solid player, powerful kid. It’s hard to make a comparison, but he runs the way Pierre Thomas runs, a little bit faster and he’s a little heavier.”
Is he a low to the ground guy?
“Low to the ground, hard to tackle, he gives you very little hitting area. This kid gets everything going forward. He’s not going to fall back. He had a long string of not fumbling the ball. Ball security was a big issue and he’s really good at that. He had those two fumbles at the end of the year, but that was the first fumble in his career I think in over 300 carries. We’re excited to get this kid. He’s an outstanding football player. He’s a productive back. He’s going to add to what we already have here and be a really good player here for us.”
Is there a reason why those guys fell a little bit further?
“We just laughed about that in there. Two years ago when we won the Super Bowl, we went to the combine. We picked these seating arrangements for the 40-yard dash, one through 32, where you sit. We picked number four and that was a good choice. We said we’d like to be number one. But number one had to sit on the field, two was on the bench, there on the bleacher. We were the first one on the rail with no one blocking our view. Last year we picked we were about 30 and this year we picked we were four again and I told Sean and Mickey, we have a little mojo working here. Who knows? We’ll take it if it is. It’s pretty good.”
You gave up future compensation to select Ingram. Was there hesitation on this move?
“I thought there was no hesitation. When that kid became available and the trade became available we were all excited to get that player. This guy’s really going to add to our offense and give us a little bit of the ball control we want to do on the ground.”
by Ed Staton
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