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New Orleans Saints eyeing quality addition in first round of NFL Draft

Loomis: 'I think we're going to get a really good player'

As is the case every year, the possibility that the New Orleans Saints will trade up or down in the first round – or any other round – of the NFL Draft is on the table. But Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis said Tuesday that New Orleans will be comfortable if it remains where it is and makes the 14th pick in the first round.

"Yes," Loomis responded when asked if the Saints could select a quality player at 14. "Yes. I think we're going to get a really good player, yes."

The NFL Draft will be held April 25-27 in Detroit, Mich., with the first round occurring Thursday, the second and third rounds taking place Friday and the fourth through seventh rounds happening Saturday.

Currently, the Saints have the Nos. 14 (first round), 45 (second), 150, 168, 170, 175 (fifth), 190, 199 (sixth) and 239 (seventh) picks. Loomis addressed the media from the Ochsner Sports Performance Center during his predraft news conference.

He spoke on why the prevailing pattern for the Saints has been to trade up instead of down during his tenure.

"Every year I say we're willing to do either way and then I'm like, 15-0 going up, right?" Loomis said. "So it's kind of hard for me to keep saying that I'm willing to trade back and then I haven't done it for quite some time.

"I think there are cases where dropping back makes some sense to get more picks. I just think in our case, most of the time it's just been a move too far back. If you move back two or three or four spots, probably the level of player is similar.

"If you're moving back eight to 10 (spots), I think often times you're dropping down a class. If you believe in your board, you believe in the evaluations that your staff has done, then it's just hard for me to grasp getting a lesser player, talent-wise. And so, I really believe in the evaluation process that we do, and that's what makes it more difficult."

The 2024 draft class, he said, tilts toward offense more than defense.

"I think it's a good year for offensive players. That's probably the way I'd put it," Loomis said. "A little better offensively than defensively, and yet, I just know that three or four years from now we're going to look back and there's going to be some great defensive players come out of this draft and we're going to say, 'Why didn't we see that?' Or, 'It should have been obvious.'

"I think everyone would say that the offensive line is a position of strength in this draft, and wide receivers. But there are players at every position. It's just a matter of how we look at them versus some of these other clubs."

Offensive tackle possibly is the position that New Orleans would address first in the draft, either at No. 14 or wherever the team winds up.

Left tackle isn't yet solidified – veteran Andrus Peat is an unrestricted free agent, and the development of Trevor Penning, a first-round pick (No. 19 overall) in 2022, has been stalled by injury and execution. Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, a three-time All-Pro drafted in 2017, hasn't responded as quickly as hoped from offseason knee surgery.

Loomis said the franchise still views Penning as a tackle.

"I think (his offseason) has gone well and there's a lot of offseason left here," he said of Penning. "We have a new offensive staff, new offensive line coaches and I think they're anxious to get to work with him once we're able to get on the field."

As for Ramczyk, Loomis said, "There's a lot of things that we don't have control over right now. I don't think we're spending a lot of time thinking about that specifically. Not a lot has changed (from when Coach Dennis Allen said Ramczyk was progressing slowly from the surgery). (But) we've got a lot of time left."

Loomis also said the Saints may look to close the 105-pick gap between their second- and fifth-round picks.

"I wouldn't say that we're spending a lot of time thinking about that right now," he said. "The way the draft is structured currently is that we do the first round on Thursday, and then we have the second and third (rounds) on Friday. And so then, we have a whole evening – a whole day, really – to strategize about moving into the third and fourth round.

"And look, part of that depends upon who are the players available. Do we really want to move up? That's not a process that you spend a lot of time on right now. There are so many variables. We're focused on what's going to happen in the first and second rounds right now with those first two picks."

Too, the team will explore how costly it would be to move up from 14, or how beneficial to slide back.

"We're at 14. I'm going to look at what does it take to get to 13, what does it take to get to 12, 11, 10, 9, 8," Loomis said. "That's probably about where I'd cut it off. And I'll go back – how far back are we willing to go. Generally, I'm going to look 10 spots in front and 10 spots behind.

"And then I'm going to spend a lot of time over the next couple of days saying, 'What's the value of that? What's it doing to take?' What's the history when someone has traded from 14 to 10, 14 to 9, whatever. And what's the history of going from 14 back to 20.

"So I'll have in my mind – not just me, but our staff – will be looking at that saying, what does it take. And then, there will be a lot of calls over the next two or three days to those GMs and those teams in front of us and those teams behind us, 'Hey, what are you thinking? Do you have an inclination to come forward? Do you have an inclination to go back?' So we'll have an idea.

"And look, every GM is doing this. We'll have an idea of what might be available. And then, the day of the draft as you're on the clock, it becomes a little more urgent. That's the process. It's imperfect."

LATT STATUS: Loomis said he foresees cornerback Marshon Lattimore being on New Orleans' roster, despite rumors of a possible trade.

"This is not specific to Marshon, but there are always conversations about all kinds of players," he said.

"Everybody is tradeable, it just depends on the offer you get. And yet, that's not very common. I'm not one who likes to do a lot of trades. I don't like trading players that have been contributors for us. I like maximizing the roster with the guys we've got, but we've made trades before. (But) there's too many what-if things here.

"There's not as many opportunities as people think to either trade players that you have, or to acquire players. There's not nearly as many opportunities as you think. There's discussion about things, but there's not that many opportunities that come along. I think there's an assumption that you can just pick up the phone and trade anybody, and trade for anybody.

"And that's just not the case. There's a lot of variables – the salary cap makes it difficult, the replacement. If you trade away a player, you've got to replace them. There's just a lot of variables. You've got a lot of time and coaching invested in these guys, and we want them to be successful here."

KEEP A WEATHER EYE: The Saints will remain active on the free agent market after the draft, Loomis said.

"There are some good players out there that haven't found a home yet, so I'd say we're going to be in the mix," he said.

New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis speaks with the media prior to the 2024 NFL Draft on April 25, 2024.

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