New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis
NFL Draft Day 2 press conference
Friday, April 30, 2021
Can you just speak to the two picks tonight? And what you like about each guy?
"Yeah, first of all, Pete Werner, he's a guy that we thought a lot of. Very athletic, great instincts, tough, played Will linebacker, but we see him having some versatility. (He's) Real good and pass coverage and super smart. (Has a) really high, high football makeup. They speak so highly of him there, all of his coaches, all the people involved at Ohio State speak so highly of him. I think he's had 35 starts there in the last three years. I don't think he's missed a game over the last three years. So there's just a lot of things to like about this player and we're excited to be able to get him."
How often do you guys have to try to trade and to finally get that trade up to get the player had to feel good?
"Yeah, look, I would say that we were trying to move up really all night. We spent the afternoon trying to get toward the top of the second round. We got close a couple times and weren't able to do it. And then the players that we had targeted went off pretty quickly. So we decided to let the draft come to us at that point. Later on in the third round, look, Paulson (Adebo) sat there, his card sat up there. Look, at a position that we can use another player and so it just became pretty obvious once we got to the area where we could convert the two thirds and move up. We were able to do that with Denver, which is coincidentally one of the teams that we talked to in the first round about making a deal and never could do it. So we were able to do that this evening."
Was it important for y'all to get a chance to see Payton Turner in Mobile at the Senior Bowl?
"Yeah, look, I think any time you have the opportunity to gather information on players, then obviously it's valuable. Payton Turner's a guy that Jeff Ireland talked to me about during our football season, he had seen him and had just done his evaluation, early evaluation and was really high on Payton. So he mentioned him a long time before we get to the Senior Bowl. Then when we got the Senior Bowl we were able to sit down (and) visit with him. So I would say, yeah, anytime you can sit face to face with a player that's valuable information. We were able to do that with the guys at the Senior Bowl."
Did you find that the prices teams were asking less in round one were maybe higher than what's been normal in round one?
"Yeah, I would say this, look, I don't think we've worked harder at trying to move up than we did yesterday. We had a lot of conversations with a lot of teams and look at the end of the day, I understand it. Listen, we were pick 28 that's a long ways back. I think in the last 20 years, I think there's only been four or five times where a team has gone from the 20s into the top 10. So that's pretty rare to begin with and for someone to do that they want a ransom and we're about making a fair trade, but we weren't interested in just giving up a king's ransom for that move and wasn't able to do it. I think there were a couple times where it looked like it was going to be considered and maybe happen, but it didn't and look that happens a lot in this league and happens a lot during the draft."
2021 NFL draft photos of New Orleans Saints 3rd round draft pick
What was your evaluation of Paulson (Adebo)? Do you think you guys are set at cornerback now?
"Yes, you didn't miss it. I didn't talk about him. But look, this is a tall, very athletic, another kid that is really super smart. I know David Shaw thinks a lot of him. I would say probably, I don't know that I would say we're set, but this is a player that's going to come in and compete and develop. I think he does need some development. He didn't play this last season. I think he opted out but he had eight interceptions in the two years before that. He was an all-Pac 12 player and we're excited to see this young man and see if we can develop him and we'll see where it lies at the end of training camp in terms of how much he gets to play."
Sean said last night when you drafted Payton Turner that he's going to play this year, as far as these two players coming to positions of perceived need, does that affect how you draft them? Do you look at guys that may be more ready to play or does that affect what you all do? If you feel like they need more seasoning versus less?
"It's kind of on an individual basis, right? We like both these players. We like their ability to play the game of football, but we like their makeup, both of them are really smart players. They're the prototype in terms of height, weight, speed, and all the things and the variables you look at, relative to players playing in the NFL. Whether they can play or how much they play this year, look that will be up to them and up to us in terms of their development. I would not say that when we're drafting, we're talking a lot about how much they might contribute in year one. It's a little different when you're looking at first round picks because generally speaking, you're expecting first round picks to come in and contribute pretty early."
I ask this question sort of tongue in cheek but obviously on the outside the narrative is you guys love Ohio State players and you guys love to make trades. Do you guys joke about that in the draft room? Do you guys have a laugh about that, that you guys have such a propensity for both of those?
"We do joke about it a little bit. Not about the trades, but we do joke about the number of Ohio State players that have come through here. Look, they are talented. Listen, Ohio State's one of the great programs in the country and they have a lot of talented players. Just like Alabama and LSU, and some of the top programs. I think it's coincidental as much as anything, but we have had a lot of Ohio State guys and now we got another one."
This might be a repeat because I got on what you were talking about the linebacker from Ohio State but did you say if you have a Mike or Will vision for him?
"Yes, look he played Will linebacker there. I think that's a good question for Dennis (Allen) and Sean (Payton) when you guys get a chance to speak with them a little later, but I would guess that our vision is going to be starting him out at Will with the understanding that he's got some Mike linebacker flexibility. But, we'll see how that shakes out during training camp."
2021 NFL draft photos of New Orleans Saints 2nd round draft pick Pete Werner, linebacker from Ohio St.
Can you just talk about your general feeling on your wide receiver room? It seems like you have a lot of depth but not a ton of experience. Do you feel like that's a position you did not have to address this offseason?
"We've got some young guys in there that we really like and yet some of them have some experience. Tre'Quan Smith has played a lot of football for us and the young guys (Marquez) Callaway, Deonte Harris have all contributed. (Lil Jordan) Humphrey and Juwan Johnson, we've got some guys that compliment Mike Thomas pretty well and obviously Mike missed a lot of time this last season, so we're expecting a full season of Mike Thomas this year as well."
Through these first three picks, how much would you say, from a position group standpoint, maybe you had to pivot, based on how the draft board was coming to you?
"Yes, I don't know that it's a pivot. Obviously, we were trying to move up early in the first round for a specific player, specific position, that wasn't able to happen, and you're picking at 28, you're really just letting the draft come to you and see who's available and when it's our turn to pick we have three or four guys that we like a lot. But, the guy we liked the most was Payton Turner. So that's why we took him."
With the number a new GMs around the league, did that create any difficulties in getting a deal done at all?
"I didn't really feel like that. No, because I think I said this the other day, a couple of these guys in particular have a lot of experience. They may not have sat in the GM seat, but they've been right next to the GM at the places they've been for a lot of years and heavily involved in the decisions. So yeah, I wouldn't say that that had a big impact. Although I wasn't able to do a deal with (Atlanta Falcons GM) Terry Fontenot so maybe it did."
It seems like a lot of these guys fit the kind of size, athleticism, mold that you guys like. Just how big was that when you were looking at these guys in particular?
"Yeah, look, I think we always pay attention to prototype players that meet the height, weight, speed parameters that we have in our league. Yeah, we also know that there are exceptions. But, it is a variable. That's basically how I would say it."
And with (Payton) Turner specifically, it seems like his length was something that was attractive to you guys?
"Yeah, I think he has exceptional length and size for the position. He's got a lot of blue traits, traits that would be considered elite in terms of the measurables and some of the time shuttles and things like that. So, yeah, he certainly has the traits."
2021 NFL Draft photos of New Orleans Saints first round draft pick Payton Turner, defensive end out of Houston.
I know in the past you've talked about how difficult it is to make your roster because you all are so deep and so talented, with four picks tomorrow, not that I expect you to give away the game plan, but do you think you'll be as aggressive maybe moving off or trying to move up? Or how you look at four picks, especially three with very late round selections?
"Yeah, again, I think it's more about finding a player that we really covet and then being aggressive in trying to go get that player. And so we'll see, we'll visit again tonight, we'll huddle up tomorrow during the day before the draft, we'll talk about the players that are still available and who might fit on our roster. And absolutely one of the things that we talked about is okay, what is the path to our roster for a particular player? Is it through special teams? Is it beating out another player that's currently on our roster and what are the chances of that? Hey, can we get this player to the practice squad if he doesn't ultimately make our active roster? So we discuss all of that obviously before we make picks."
When you said that you don't feel like a player opting out would be a significant variable in them just being disqualified of being considered, does that type of player need to have a pretty significant year before opting out? Like in the case of (Paulson) Abebo, did you feel like his 2018 season was enough to make you comfortable in making a selection like that?
"Well, yeah, look, he had two full seasons of starting and playing games, and did very well. Obviously, we would, in a perfect world, he'd have another season and we'd have the tape and obviously more recent tape, but ultimately, we like what we saw and I think we were aggressive in acquiring the player."
With all three players in the first two rounds being defensive players, I guess that could be seen as sort of a theme, but how do you perceive that?
"Yeah, I think I saw a stat that said that's the first time that that's happened since 2009. Is that right? Which I didn't know. Again, I think that's just how the draft fell, right? We didn't go into this draft saying, Hey, we have to draft a defensive player in the first round, or we have to draft three defensive players in the first two rounds, or three rounds, excuse me. So, it's just that just the way the draft fell, and I could see, envision that it could easily have gone the other way. And we end up talking about drafting offensive players, but that's just the way this draft fell. And look, that's a product of where you're picking, when you're picking 28th, there's a lot of things that happen in front of you and obviously we had pick 60 in the second round and then the two later in the third round that we were able to convert and move up. So a lot of that's just a product of the picks in front of us."