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Q&A with Mickey Loomis on SiriusXM NFL Radio

Posted May 15, 2014

Loomis talks about the NFL Draft, Brandin Cooks, Jairus Byrd and Jimmy Graham

New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis was on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon on Wednesday. Below are some highlights from the interview:
 
On what happens once the team has made their final pick in the NFL Draft:
 
“First, after the last pick is made…that’s when it gets crazy. That’s college free agency. I would describe it like you might describe the floor at the New York Stock Exchange. We have calls going all over the place, coaches calling players, and scouts and staffers calling agents. We have our head coach on the phone recruiting. I am talking to agents. We have all kinds of stuff going on. It’s 30 phone calls all going on at the same time in one big room. It’s kind of fun and a pretty exciting time. You get fired up when you get a player that you’re targeting that a number of other teams are involved with.
 
“That three-hour period after the draft is absolute chaos. I’ve been doing that for 30 years and every year we talk about how we can make it more efficient and more streamlined and I just don’t know that you can because it’s crazy.
 
“To answer your question, after that is over we meet the next day and talk about the process of the draft itself. How can we do it better? What are the things that we may have missed? What were the things that happened during the draft that were unexpected? That could be somebody being drafted much higher than we had him graded or someone that was graded highly that didn’t get drafted until later numerically. We had a little discussion about that and we will continue to do that throughout this week as well.”
 
On the importance of undrafted rookie free agents:
 
“We had six guys, college free agents, that were on our team last year and we’ve got a good team. That speaks to the job that our area scouts do. Those are the guys that know the down-the-line players that we haven’t discussed or looked at as much from a top management point of view.
 
“One of my first jobs with Seattle was I was one of the guys that went to New York and sat there during that full day, on the phone with our management back in Seattle. As I recall, those drafts started at 7:30 in the morning…we got there at 6:30, didn’t finish till late, got on a place to St. Louis and drove to a free agents house. I’m knocking on the door at 5:30 to sign a free agent in East St. Louis. It was different times and yet the end product was still the same as you’re drafting a group of players, you’re signing a group of undrafted free agents and you’re bringing them to camp and giving them the opportunity to make an NFL roster.”
 
As you evaluate after the draft, were these the best players on your board or were they the best players that best fit what you wanted for your football team:
 
“It’s probably a combination of the two. I hear a lot of this talk about the best players on the board and filling the need. One thing about that is, in the weeks prior to the draft, we’ve all got the same human nature. If we need a corner, then we are going to grade the corners higher than a team that doesn’t need the corners. If you need a quarterback then your grade on the quarterbacks are probably higher than a team that doesn’t.
 
“I think some of that is done in the weeks prior to the draft in terms of the way you grade positions of need versus other positions. Look, it didn’t go perfectly in terms of what we would’ve wanted to come out of the draft with. There were a lot of things, a lot of goals that we had coming into the draft: getting an explosive player, help in the backend, candidates for special teams and the linebacker spots. We were able to do that. I think ideally going into the draft, we would have liked to have an interior lineman. We didn’t get a chance to draft a guy at the appropriate place. It didn’t go perfectly but we are pleased with the players we got.
 
“Once again, I see these grades being passed and I think that’s such a silly exercise because we all think we had a great draft right now, yet none of us are going to know that ‘till three years down the road. These grades are such a silly exercise. It’s almost comical.”
 
On Brandin Cooks:
 
“Looking at his numbers and the conference that he plays, the success (Oregon State) has had tells you this guy has been awfully productive and been able to stay on the field. One thing that is interesting with him is that he has been a weapon for (Oregon State) for two years. Every game that they play, their opponent is game planning ‘How do we stop Brandin Cooks?’ Yet, time and time again, every game he is able to produce. I think that speaks to his preparation, toughness and ability. (Oregon State coach) Mike Riley is a good friend of ours and he worked here at the Saints with me. He spoke so highly of him. He said ‘He’s going to walk into your building and be a pro’s pro from the day he arrives.’
 
“We are excited to have him and I know Drew (Brees) is excited to have another guy he can get the ball to and a player that can create on his own.”
 
On how the team acquired Jairus Byrd:
 
“I would like to tell you it was magic and mirrors but obviously every dollar is going to count. It’s just a matter of us pushing money off to a year, advancing some and look we all have the tools to be able to maneuver a little bit.
 
“We have been in an environment where we have been up against the cap for a few years now. That’s a product of having a good team. We are limited in two aspects: 1. In the number of guys we can get. We can basically get one guy. One ‘bigger money’ deal. 2. It really reduces your margin for error. When you are up against the cap, you can’t afford to make many mistakes. Now, we are going to make some but we have to be very cautious. I believe in free agency. It’s helped our club over the last seven to eight years. You have been judicious and get value contracts. When you do step out and sign a guy to a really big money deal, you have to hope that works out for your club. We are excited to have Jairus. It’s a position that can be impactful to our team and help our defense. Obviously we improved a lot on defense a year ago, but I think the one area we can improve even more on is creating turnovers. That’s the purpose of signing Jairus.”
 
On the NFL Players Association filing a grievance on behalf of Jimmy Graham:
 
“That’s being handled by the league office and Management Council. They do all the prep work and the presentation. I don’t even know if I am going to be involved at any level other than answering questions and helping with preparation for the league office. It is what it is. It will be good to have a resolution.”