New Orleans Saints senior writer John DeShazier answered a number of fans question submitted on Twitter this week. You can tweet DeShazier questions on Twitter by using the hashtag #AskJD
Q: Is there any update on Vilma?
A: No update yet. We know he worked hard to make it back last season, only was able to play against the New York Jets and had to shut it down because his surgically-repaired knee just wouldn't allow him to do the things he was capable of doing. I don't want to speculate on his future, but I'll say this: He said that he'd know when it was time to let go, and that he wouldn't have any hesitation doing so.
Q: When are you going to overcome Seattle's 12th man?
A: Nothing wrong with being disappointed after a playoff loss but if it's any consolation, the Saints were eliminated by the NFC's Super Bowl representative, a Seattle team that only lost one home game this season. Taken in the larger context, a year after finishing 7-9 and out of the playoffs, the Saints went 12-6, won the first road playoff game in franchise history and fell one game short of playing in the NFC Championship Game. All in all, not bad.
Q: What position do you think the @Saints will pick in the 1st round of the draft?
A: Much of that could depend on the health of returning injured players. For example, if you believe the Saints need a linebacker, should they draft one in the first round if Victor Butler is healthy? If the belief is that the team needs a speed receiver, does it chase one if Joe Morgan is back 100 percent? If the injured players come back in form, it could allow the team to address another area of concern. Just me talking here: I think we saw that you can never have too many defensive backs, and two starting offensive linemen are unrestricted free agents. But, again, the injured DBs (including Kenny Vaccaro and Patrick Robinson) are expected to return healthy and unrestricted free agency doesn't mean a player will sign elsewhere, only that he has the option to do so. So, likely, who's healthy and who's signed in free agency will probably dictate the direction the Saints take in the draft.
Q: What positions will the Saints look to upgrade in the draft?
A: That pretty much can be summed up by the answer above to @rico_strong1. For some of the areas that may appear to require an upgrade, the actual upgrade already may be on the roster, in the form of an injured player to will return next season. For instance, a healthy Patrick Robinson, who started 16 games in 2012, likely is a better alternative than a rookie cornerback. So, until we know who's back healthy and whom the Saints can pluck in free agency (they were able to get Keenan Lewis last year), we won't really know what positions will need to be addressed in the draft.
Q: I just want confirmation Rob Ryan, Pierre Thomas and Jimmy Graham will be back for 2014 season.
A: So far, so good. Graham either will sign a long-term deal or will play next season under the franchise player tag, Thomas is under contract for another year and Ryan hasn't yet been stolen away (and he says he loves being on Coach Sean Payton's staff, and loves New Orleans). I can't give you a guarantee, but I'd say you shouldn't be overly concerned.
Q: After Shayne Graham's misses during our loss to the Seahawks, what do you think his future will be with the Saints?
A: He missed two kicks, from 45 and 48 yards, under pretty difficult conditions. I wouldn't be shocked if there wasn't competition for the kicking job in training camp, but I also wouldn't be shocked if Shayne Graham wasn't part of the competition. He made his first six field goals as a Saint, including four in the playoff win against the Eagles. Probably, his confidence is less likely to be shaken than a younger kicker. But I wouldn't say the job is his to lose. He may have to win it, again, in training camp.
Q: Would you pick up (LSU receivers) Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry if you had the chance?
A: Both are fantastic players. Personal preference? Beckham. Love his hands and the fact that he also can play special teams, and he just looks polished. He isn't the fastest guy in the world, but he seems like he'll take less time to adapt and even though Landry seems to make just as many circus grabs, there's something about Beckham that I just like a little more. But that's just me.
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