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John DeShazier: New Orleans Saints draft board has slight defensive lean

But GM Mickey Loomis says you won't be able to judge talent in draft for 2-3 years

For relaxed, often-smiling New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis, Wednesday's pre-draft news conference at the team's training facility in Metairie was the same as they always have been.

"You guys know this is my goal here, not to give you any information," he said, laughing. "I say that to you every year, and I just want to make sure you're clear that that's still the case."

Joking aside, Loomis did say that entering Thursday's NFL Draft, the Saints currently have more of a defensive lean than offensive, in terms of player interest.

"We probably have more defensive players on our board than offensive and yet, the strength of the draft is going to be determined two and three years from now when we look back," he said. "It's going to be a different viewpoint for every team, depending upon who we draft and how they turn out.

"We have some wants and desires, but I think we also have the flexibility to take somebody that's just the best-rated player if that's the spot that we end up in."

And Loomis said the Saints prefer not to get into any subterfuge.

"We're not a smokescreen team," he said. "I think we're more of a silent team. I'd prefer just being silent and let people think what they want to think. And most of the time they're wrong."

Loomis' 20-minute briefing was filled with a variety of topics, addressed less than 36 hours before the draft. Currently, the Saints have six picks, in rounds one (No. 12 overall), two (No. 47), three (No. 78), four (No. 112), five (No. 152) and seven (No. 237).

He said there have not been discussions by the Saints to move up in the draft, to No. 1 or any other position.

"Absolutely no conversations," he said. "I didn't have any conversations with anybody at the top of the draft.

"There weren't any discussions about moving up, with any team."

However, he didn't rule out the possibility of moving back, a maneuver that the Saints have attempted in some past years.

"It's not that I don't believe in trading back, and we've tried," he said. "There have been times that we've tried to do that. I do think that if you look at the history of trades, there's more success trading up than there is trading back. But I'm not opposed to it. We've tried to do that, it just hasn't worked out."

Among the other topics Loomis addressed was the pursuit of free agent cornerback Josh Norman, who ultimately signed a five-year deal with Washington.

Loomis: "We were in that mix, but he went a different route. That's about all I can say about it, he's with the Washington Redskins now. But we were in the mix, I think we made a strong offer and he chose to go there.

"It would have required some (financial) maneuvering, yes.

"You have to balance that with what's on roster, with the salary cap you have available, (with) the resources you have available. We thought he was a good player and would impact our team.

"We're always trying to add good players. We like the guys we've got, we've got some young guys back there, we've got (cornerback) Keenan (Lewis) coming off an injury but he's been a good player for us in the past and we expect a lot of things from him, we were real surprised by (cornerback) Delvin (Breaux) and the performance that he had, and we're looking for him to build on that. I don't think we view that as a critical need and yet there was an opportunity to get a really good player, so we took a shot."

Also, he talked about the Saints' ability to operate in free agency when it appears they might be limited by salary cap constraints.

Loomis: "I think you guys probably make a bigger deal out of where we're at in a given point in time than we do. There's a lot of planning that goes into that, a lot of forethought about where we're at today, tomorrow, a year from now, three years from now. And we talk about that all the time.

"When we sign contracts, we've got a thought about, 'Hey, how does this impact us today, what can we do with these deals going forward?' We have a way of looking at them that incorporates our cap planning. I think every team does that. There's no secret sauce here, it's not unusual. We've got some smart people in the building that know how to work the deal."

Regarding the ongoing contract negotiations with quarterback Drew Brees, there is no rush and it isn't likely to become a sideshow.

Loomis: "I don't see him being distracted by anything. I'm for getting a deal whenever you can get a deal, period. And I don't think that Drew's the type of person or player who – he can compartmentalize and focus so well, we've all seen that – I don't see that being a distraction for him either way. I don't want to speak for him, that's a question for him more than me. But I don't have any qualms about doing a deal whenever you can get something done. I think that's good for the franchise."

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