I don't know.
I know, I know – I'm not really supposed to admit that I don't know. But I don't know who the New Orleans Saints are going to draft, and neither does anyone else who dares to put together a mock.
All we know is what we think we know – tip of the cap to Jim Mora – and sometimes we think we know, but we really don't know.
Otherwise, here's another mailbag, and it's a little heavier this week than last, but that's OK. Keep the questions coming.
@UncleWreckum:Understanding anything is possible, do you think the Saints will seek a trade for the No. 12 pick?
JD:If I was putting money on it, I'd say they'll stand pat and take a defensive tackle or rush end, based on what we've heard. Moving up would be costly – as in, a pick from a future draft or a pick from a later round in this draft, coupled with the No. 12 pick, and possibly a player. And since the Saints are trying to accumulate good players, giving away an extra pick and/or player in order to move up doesn't seem likely. Moving back could be the move if they decide that the player they want still might be available a few picks later, but we have to remember that it takes two teams to make a trade. So, if no one wants to give up a pick and/or player in order to acquire the No. 12 pick from New Orleans, then moving back is a non-starter. Of course, they'll entertain all offers and do their due diligence, but I think the price to move up might be more costly than the Saints wisely would pay.
@LisaGarrity1: When will the Saints renew Drew Brees' contract?
JD:I'd love to give you a day and time, but that's impossible. All we know is that the two sides are in negotiations. However, remember that the Saints signed Brees to this contract knowing exactly what his cap figure would be this season, and they're prepared to go with that if a new agreement can't be reached. They'd be tight against the cap, but they know how to navigate that as well as any team. That said, it sounds like both sides want to get an extension done, an agreement will be reached and Brees' salary cap number will shrink to a figure that more easily can be absorbed.
@frisko90: Have the Saints signed Terron Armstead yet?
JD:Not yet, but they want him back. It's just about impossible not to like the guy, and not just because his comeback story is nothing short of astounding. He was really productive in the last four games of the season – 84 carries for 327 yards and four touchdowns, as the Saints won three of their last four games – and there's a spot for him now that Khiry Robinson has signed with the Jets.
@luizpelusi: Do you think the Saints have any assets on the roster to trade for more picks? Maybe John Jenkins or Kasim Edebali?
JD:If the cost of more picks is giving away a productive player, then it isn't worth it. Give me the guy that has been a contributor ahead of the unknown of a draft pick, every day of the week. Especially on defense, the Saints have to keep any player they believe is an asset, and add to the stockpile. That's not to say such a move can't happen, especially if the team really likes a player at a certain pick and it has a vision for his use. But the Saints (and everybody else) need good players; giving them away for picks probably isn't an approach they'll take.
@D_hernzz: Do the Saints plan on creating more depth in the receiving corps after releasing Marques Colston?
JD:Beyond the top three (Drew Brees, Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman), there isn't much depth, production or game experience among the receiving corps. So, yes, the Saints need players behind them. But one thing we've learned to not worry about is the Saints' receiving corps. Colston was a seventh-round pick, Lance Moore was undrafted, Snead was undrafted, Coleman was undrafted. Sense a pattern there? The team has been able to find productive players for the position without having had to use high draft picks – other than Cooks, a first-rounder two years ago. There are receivers in this draft they like, and they just might pick one, but establishing depth at the position is something that hasn't been a problem over the years.
@inkfreak79: What can I do to get a Delvin Breaux autograph? I love his story, his character and his playing style.
JD:Other than getting lucky and seeing him on the street? (He's genuinely a nice guy, he'd sign yours and every other request, even in that setting.) My solution is to mail the item you want autographed to his attention at the team's practice facility – with a self-addressed box, envelope, etc., included so that he can hopefully sign it and mail it back. But don't sleep on the seeing-him-on-the-street angle. He's pretty accessible, extremely approachable and always making an appearance somewhere, it seems.
@burchett_tyler: Understandably, the abysmal defense gets the focus. But how can the Saints improve their efficiency on offense? It fell flat at crucial moments.
JD:Run the ball more effectively. That'll help balance the offense and it'll help the Saints close out games the way they want to, at least when they have the ball and want to execute their four-minute offense. They really ran it well in the last four games (see an above question regarding Tim Hightower), and they won three of their last four. The run threat takes pressure off the passing game and if an opposing defense is a bit off balance against this Saints offense, the Saints pile up the yards and points in a hurry. A healthy Mark Ingram and Drew Brees will help – by the way, Ingram had a career year in yards from scrimmage even before missing the final three games with a shoulder injury.
@MrDeshotel: Do the Saints make moves on defense, particularly the defensive line?
JD:In a word, "Yes." That will be a point of emphasis in the draft – at least, that's what General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton have said – and let's not forget that free agency is ongoing. The big-name, big-money guys are off the market but help remains available. Mostly, though, it sounds like the Saints want defensive line help, early, in the draft.
@AdelaideLyfe: Which rookie from last year could really blossom this season?
JD:If he's healthy, Damian Swann. He showed some real flashes last year as a defensive back. He can cover, he'll tackle and he doesn't shrink from a challenge. The obvious concern is that he had three concussions last season, the last of which ended his year. But he has been cleared and, again, if he's healthy, he's a player to like. I think Andrus Peat is going to start this year, and it may be at guard even though his future is at right tackle, because that may be the way for the Saints to get their best five linemen on the field. The Saints will need him to play at a high level to help keep the interior pass rush out of Drew Brees' face, and I think he's capable of doing that. He was last year's first-round pick, so expectations are high for him. But for me, the choice is Swann.
@maxdoesntcare: Are we drafting a wide receiver or tight end?
JD:I'd lean more toward a receiver than a tight end, even with the loss of Benjamin Watson. The Saints signed Coby Fleener and re-signed Michael Hoomanawanui, so they already have two of their three tight ends to offset the loss of Watson. What they don't have is depth behind their top three receivers (Cooks, Snead and Coleman), and that's critical. The opportunity will be there for a draft pick, perhaps, to come in and make an impact.
@PaulNOLA9: After the moves they have already made, what is the biggest position need for the team right now?
JD:A pass rusher to affect the opposing quarterback. The Saints believe they can find one in this draft, and hopefully linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha will improve off his rookie season. But they have to apply more pressure to the quarterback, and it has to come with consistency from sources other than Cam Jordan.
@seandots: One new mock draft has the Saints taking a linebacker in the second round. Would that still be the pick after free agent activity? What's your ideal pick?
JD:The team seems pretty set at linebacker right now, with the addition of James Laurinaitis, Nate Stupar and Craig Robertson. Second round sounds a little high to pick another one, but if a dynamic one is there – if he's head and shoulders above the other players in the Saints' bullpen – that could be the pick. My temptation would be to take defensive line help with the first two picks. There seems to be a clear sense of what the team wants to do defensively, and a clear sense of the kinds of players it needs to do it. That begins up front.