Saturday, 16 April 2011 18:23

The New Orleans Saints NFL Draft And Combines, Past and Present

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While the NFL owners and players are fighting over a new collective bargaining agreement, college players have been doing private workouts and private meetings with the 32 teams.

The NFL Combine is just a small part of the evaluation process. What is really important is the private sessions which is a get-to-know meeting for both the players and the team.

Former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh once said the draft was "No more than an educated guess."

Mike Detillier, WWL Sports and publisher of Mike Detillier's Draft Report, said "In this information age, one would think there would be fewer misses on the draft especially in the early rounds. However, the educated guess today is no better than it was 40 years ago. There is no test for heart and football smarts and no one can tell how someone reacts to instant fame and fortune."

Defensive tackle Ronnie Estay was an All-American at LSU in 1971 and available for the draft, but had little contact with any teams.

"I played in three all-star games after my senior season," said Estay in an interview with Detillier. "I went to the East-West Shrine game, the Coaches All-American Bowl and the Hula Bowl. That was the first time I had any contact with an NFL scout or someone from the NFL.

"They were at LSU in the spring to watch, but I didn't have a personal workout or physical, nothing. At the Hula Bowl they made us run a 40-yard dash for time. I ran a 4.8 which was pretty good and then they asked me to run it again and I said no way."

Estay said he was contacted by a couple of teams right before the draft.

"The Cowboys called told me they were planning to pick me in the 13th round. The Saints actually brought me in and they told me they had plans to pick me in the 13th round also.

"The night before the draft I was in New Orleans talking to them and they were real interested, but the Denver Broncos picked me in the eighth round.

"Jackie Parker, who was a former quarterback at Mississippi State, was the general manager of the British Columbia Lions and offered me a three-year contract with the first year guaranteed. The Broncos said they couldn't guarantee me anything money-wise. The money in Canada was too good to pass on."

By 1983 things had changed drastically and former Arkansas center/guard Steve Korte, was the Saints picked in the second round.

"I went to three different scouting combines in 1983” said Korte, who like Detillier does sports for WWL Sports. "The first was set up by the Blesto Scouting Services in Detroit. The second was in Tampa and the final one in Seattle. Some teams seemed to want to share some of the information gathered and for the others they wanted this cloak and dagger type of outfit happening. It was so hectic I had to drop out of school. I was seven hours short of graduating, but I spent more time in hotel rooms and the airport than anywhere else.

"I had a feeling the Saints might pick me. I went to the Senior Bowl and the Saints coaches were the ones that coached the South squad that year so they were familiar with me and drafted me in the second round."

Korte said that there are as many misses today as before, while at the same time it doesn't shock him.

"I don’t want to sound like an old man from a different era, but I really think back then the players that came out were mentally tougher and respected the game more. They have better over-all athletes, but, I don't know that they are as mentally or physically tougher and there is a certain respect for the game that even some of the better players today don't care about. The money is an issue, but it's more about work ethic and dedication.

"I just believe that some guys don't respect the profession as much as they did years ago. The workouts and interviews today are much more organized than they were when I came out."

(Mike Detillier's Draft Report is published annually and rates more than 600 prospects including more than 250 in-depth profiles. Books can be ordered by calling 985-532-6220.)

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. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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