The New Orleans Saints saw enough promise in the upcoming NFL Draft to decide two bites in the first round this year was preferable to one in the first round in each of the next two seasons.
That, Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis said on Wednesday in his predraft media availability, is why New Orleans was willing to make a trade with Philadelphia that landed the Saints the Nos. 16 and 19 picks in the first round of the draft Thursday.
In totality, the Saints gained those picks and a sixth rounder (No. 194) in exchange for their first-round pick (No. 18), a third-round compensatory pick (No. 101) and a seventh rounder (No. 237) this year, and a first-round pick in 2023 and a second-round pick in '24.
New Orleans has seven picks in the draft this year; additionally, there are picks in the second (No. 49), third (No. 98, a compensatory pick), fourth (No. 120), fifth (No. 161) and sixth (No. 194) rounds. The draft will be held in Paradise, Nev., and will conclude Saturday.
"I think it's an opportunity to get a really good player a year before we would get him ordinarily, and I like the value of what we gave up vs. what we got," Loomis said.
"We're trying to acquire as many good players as we can and this is another opportunity. You have free agency, you have trades and you have the draft, and this is one of those avenues.
"There's a group of players that we like and that we think are going to be available."
New Orleans will enter the draft having not completed its offseason to-do list, with a few tasks remaining to be completed.
"Typically, we're going to have our 20 or 30 offseason things that we want to do, and we're going to have almost all of them done prior to the draft, and I would say they're not all done currently," Loomis said. "Not many more, but there's one or two."
But there's confidence that the Saints can select players in the draft that fit on a roster that the franchise believes can make a playoff run with its core of returning players.
"We wouldn't make a deal if we didn't think we were going to end up with a good player in that spot," he said. "But it's never foolproof."
Loomis didn't rule out the possibility that the Saints could wheel and deal out of their current positions.
"We're doing a lot of that, (exploring scenarios that would allow a move) forward and backward," he said. "And you guys know how many times I've traded backward.
"Every GM is doing this. You're looking at how many spots you can go up for a price that you can feel comfortable with, and how many will you go back and feel comfortable about what you're picking and what you're gaining. So there's a lot of discussion about that."
But staying put is an option that New Orleans is comfortable with.
"I think at the end of the day, we're going to get players at the positions that we like," he said.
Other notes from Loomis' media availability Wednesday:
SAME COLLAB PROCESS: Even though New Orleans will enter the draft with a new head coach (Dennis Allen) for the first time since 2006, the collaborative process for the draft remains essentially the same. "The process isn't just the head coach, the GM and the assistant general manager (Jeff Ireland)," Loomis said. "It's everyone. It's all of our coaches, it's all of our scouts. There's a lot of people involved, and obviously the head coach is one of them and important, and Sean (Payton) had a strong voice. But Dennis does as well."
ROOKIE BENEFITS: While Loomis admitted that adding rookie players to the roster helps from a salary cap standpoint, he said it wasn't the main reason for New Orleans acquiring the extra first-round pick. "It's a little bit of a variable, but I wouldn't say it was the overriding reason that we made the trade," he said.
THE UNKNOWN: Parting with next year's first-round pick carries a risk, Loomis said. "Part of the mystery of it is you don't know where you're picking in the future. If we have a successful season and are picking late in the draft, that favors us. And if we don't and we're picking early in the draft, that's a pretty good deal for Philadelphia. That's part of the equation. But the bigger piece is, How does the player perform that we select?"
COM-PEL-LING INTEREST: While keeping focus on the task at hand Thursday night, Loomis allowed that the Saints war room also will include a television tuned in to the Pelicans' playoff game, scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m. in the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans trail Phoenix 3-2 in their first-round series in the Western Conference; a victory Thursday will force a winner-take-all Game 7, to be played on Saturday in Phoenix.
"Just excited for them, (Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations) David (Griffin) and (Coach) Willie Green and (General Manager) Trajan (Langdon)," Loomis said. "To see a young group like that come together and be so gritty and tough and the way they play is really fun to watch as a fan. And when you know the people involved and you know how hard they're working. And then, the response to the team that the city has had has been fabulous. Look, people don't even ask me about the draft, they ask me about the Pelicans. And I think that's pretty cool."
New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President and General Manager Mickey Loomis speaks to the media in his pre-Draft press conference ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.