New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis
Press Conference – Post Fourth-Round Pick
Saturday, April 24, 2010
"As you guys just saw, we selected Al Woods, defensive tackle from LSU. We made a trade with Arizona to do that; gave up our sixth-round pick to move up. We just felt like there was going to be too many opportunities between us and that pick for him to get selected. We're excited to have him. We're excited to have another LSU player on our team. We like the make-up of Al; we like what he's done at LSU and we're looking forward to having him as part of our team."
Was there any connection to him being from LSU over any other school?
"No. We always go out in full force to their Pro Day and obviously we have a great relationship with LSU and their football program and we value that, but at the same time we're going to make a decision on who we draft based upon what's best for our team. It's coincidental that it's an LSU player, but we like that."
What did you like about him from his visit here?
"We like his make-up. He'll fit in well in our locker room. He's a hard-working kid; he has size and he has been a good player for LSU and one of the leaders of their team. We like all that about him and obviously that makes the intangibles fit what we're looking for in terms of a player."
Are you happy to be able to address the front seven of your defense with this pick?
"Yes. Absolutely that was an area coming into the draft that we wanted to find some help in and we've been able to do that."
You had said previously that your preference is to go with a player that was productive in college but do Jimmy Graham and Al Woods go against that somewhat?
"I would say that in both of those players we see a tremendous upside. Particularly with Graham being a one-year player and really new to college football, there's obviously a projection that we're making here. But we felt like that was the spot that we were going to need to take him in order to get him. We didn't think he'd last until our next pick and we've heard from a number of teams last night that leads us to believe that that absolutely would have been the case for Jimmy."
Do you see Woods as a nose tackle?
"I think so. That's where we would project him right now."
Did you have an inkling that there were some other teams between where you were picking that were interested in Woods?
"I don't know that we had a specific team that we thought might take him, we just thought that there were a lot of picks between us and where we traded – and we tried to move up higher than that to be honest with you. We just felt like there were a lot of picks and a real danger that he wasn't going to be available to us at 130, which was our slot. We clearly had a conviction for this player, as opposed to three or four others. This was the guy of that group that we thought might be available that we wanted and we just didn't want to take the chance that he wouldn't be."
Was nose tackle more of a position of need than three-technique when you were evaluating defensive tackles?
"I wouldn't say that. I think we were looking for another defensive tackle to fit into the rotation. With Sedrick (Ellis) there's a little bit of flexibility there and Remi (Ayodele) and DeMario Pressley – I think the goal here is defensive tackle; I wouldn't say that we preferred one over the other. We were just looking for the best player, regardless of whether he was a three-technique or a nose tackle."
Did the fact of having scouted him more closely play into the decision to draft him?
"I'd say that would play into it. We spent a lot of time really on all of the defensive tackles that were going to be available in the draft. In a couple of cases, they didn't fall to us earlier in the draft but I think we were lucky to get Al, to be honest with you."
Why did he not really live up to his projection out of high school during his LSU career? What do you think you can get out of him that they didn't in college?
"First of all, I wouldn't be critical of his play at LSU at all. I think he was a good player for them and a leader for them. You'd have to ask them if they got what they expected when they signed him out of high school. But we see a big kid with athletic ability and a chance to get bigger and stronger and a kid that's a hard worker and a kid that has a desire to be a good player in the NFL. Those are all good qualities, as far as we're concerned."
Will this possibly allow you to use Anthony Hargrove more at defensive end?
"We'll see when we come out of training camp. Certainly one of the attractive things about Anthony is that he can go out to end and play. He's a disruptive player inside and can be a pretty strong player at end, so that's attractive about him. In terms of how it all shakes out, we'll have to see once we get to training camp, and who knows who else we might bring in."
Could you potentially make another move later today?
"If we can, yes. Right now we have a late pick in the seventh round, which isn't a lot of ammunition to do much, but a year ago we traded a future pick to get into a round and certainly if there is a player or two that we have conviction about and we can make that move, we would absolutely consider it. It has worked out for us a number of times in the past so I wouldn't rule that out all."
Would you be alright about leaving the draft with just five guys?
"We didn't have a target number. We had six picks coming in and we were confident we were going to be able to get six good players but I don't think the number is a consideration. The idea is that if there's a player up there that we think can help us, that we know can make our team as a late round pick and be a contributor and potentially a good player for us, either in the near future or later on, and we can make a deal for a future pick, sometimes that's good value. I'd just reference back to Thomas Morstead last year. That was a pick that was questioned of why we would do that, why would we trade away a future pick, and yet we got pretty good value for that pick. Certainly when you look back at it, that was a good deal for us, a good move for us. I wouldn't rule that out at all. In fact, we will more than likely pursue something like that in the next few hours."
How do you feel about your defensive line now with all the moves that you've made in the offseason?
"I think we've gotten better. But that remains to be seen. We need to get through minicamp; we need to get Jimmy Wilkerson on the field ready to go and see what we have in Al Woods. But today I feel pretty good about it."
What happens at a draft visit that might convince you to take a player, Al Woods in particular?
"No different than in any of the visits that we have with any college player, you bring him in, you want to meet him, you want to see what the personality is like, you want to know that they understand that they're on a job interview; they're not being recruited, they're on a job interview there. Which is different circumstances than when coming out of high school when they were being recruited. We weren't recruiting; we were interviewing. So that interview consists of a lot of elements, including a physical and an opportunity for our coaches to get the player on the board and see how much football he understands, see what his knowledge level is, see what his comprehension level is when you throw something new at him. Those are the types of things that you want to understand. Sometimes you may have questions. There may be an issue in his background that you have a question about, so we can get those answered as well."
There are many different reasons to bring a guy in for a visit – either to possibly sign them after the draft or possibly if you're not interested in them but want to make it seem that you are. In this case, was it that you had him moving up your board and just wanted to meet with him one last time?
"First of all, we don't ever bring anybody in that we're not interested in. The result of the visit may be that we're not interested in him, but we're interested in every guy that we bring him. This was a case where we just wanted to learn a little more about the player and see how he reacted to the visit, and it was a great visit."
Is the linebacker position this year comparable to the running back position last year as it relates to the draft for you?
"That's probably a good comparison. A year ago, out there in the public it was, 'Why aren't they getting a running back?' That's probably a good comparison. There are some young players on this team that we like that have performed pretty well in the roles they have been given to date."
How does DeMario Pressley fit into the equation with the other additions?
"We like DeMario; we like what he has done. He's at the point where he needs to show us a little more, but we like his progress so far. There's nothing wrong with competition and he'll have more competition."
Can you project for us, or do you have an idea of what you might be looking for in the seventh round if you hold on to that pick?
"I don't. It's going to be another case of there being several guys up on the board that we like at several different positions – maybe even some positions that you would say that we're deep at. It's going to be who's the best player up there, regardless of position that we're going to take. There's not one position that's particularly loaded that I could tell you that it's likely that's where we're going to go. It's going to be the best player available. Again, if there's an opportunity for us to get a fifth-round pick or a sixth-round pick by trading a future pick, then we're going to look to do that and see if that can happen."