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Transcript: Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis on Draft Day 3

New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis addresses the media after the 2019 Saints Draft presented by Dixie Beer on April 27, 2019.

New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis
2019 NFL Draft Recap Press Conference
Saturday, April 27, 2019

What do you like about this class?
“I like that we got three guys that were graded in our top 70. I like the opportunities that we had today with Alizé Mack and Kaden Elliss. I think we got some players that can help our team.”

What do you think the vision is for (Kaden) Elliss?
“I think at the end of the day the quickest route for any of these guys at that position is to contribute on special teams. Until we get here we have a vision for these players and yet how quickly they fulfill the vison depends a large part on them. We will see what happens.”

Can you explain the three players rated in the top 70?
“We had on our board three of our guys that we drafted were in our top 70. We are excited about that. We are pleased about that.”

Were those guys the top three selections?
“Yes.”

How did the trade come about for the ability to select Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson?
“It was an opportunity, first of all the key to that was getting the fourth back when we made the trade to get (Erik) McCoy, we got a fourth round pick back and that allowed us to be in a positon to move up and get Chauncey. We’re excited about that. We traded up not down, right? Remember that next year when you’re asking me those questions.”

Can you talk about the trading future draft pick philosophy?
“It is calculated and when you have the opportunity to go get somebody (and) go get a player you covet you, go get them. That has been a successful formula for us, I am not saying it is 100%, but it is a successful formula for us and if you like the player go get them. That’s our philosophy.”

You took took two safeties, how much of this is for special teams?
“I think there’s some versatility there (with) Chauncey (Gardner-Johnson) playing nickel and we’ll see how it all shakes out, but obviously that’s a positon where those guys can be core special team players as well.”

Sean (Payton) said you thought maybe Erik (McCoy) would be gone by the time the first round even came to a close. When he didn't go, when did you guys start talking about how you could maybe move up and get him?
“Right at the end of the first round. He was a target for us. We talked a lot about what we had available to us, what we'd be willing to spend in terms of the cost to move up, made a lot of calls, and eventually found a willing partner.”

When you came in this morning, were you surprised that Chauncey (Gardner-Johnson) was still available?
“Yes, I would say yes. Again, last night, we talked a little bit about it and evaluated the cost to move. Again, the key to that was getting the fourth-round pick back in the trade for (Erik) McCoy.”

When did you start discussing the possibility of that trade?
“We discussed it amongst ourselves last night and then came in in the morning and discussed it. We started making a few calls to see who was looking in front of us to maybe move down. There were a number of teams that are willing to do that. (For) some, the cost was too great. It's just a process. When you get on the clock and you get close to their pick or our pick, if the player is still available, then those conversations get a little more heated up, but the framework for a deal is already in place.”

The trade in the second round, how soon did that finish? Was it right before you picked?
“Yes, on the clock.”

What common traits would you say maybe all these guys have?
“I think smart, tough, productive. Those are the things that we're looking for.”

Do you ever have any interaction with the Luther Elliss?
“My recollection is, and I said this to Kaden (Elliss), I think that we made a swing at him as a free agent at one point, his dad, years ago. That's my recollection. It'll come back to me I think eventually. I know we had a discussion about being able to acquire him years ago and obviously it didn't happen, but his dad was a good football player. That is a good pedigree that he comes from.”

What are some of the advantages, disadvantages, or the calculations that go into taking fewer draft picks to get specific guys, versus stockpiling draft picks to get a lot of guys?
“I think there are a lot of variables. It starts with maybe philosophy. More swings, more hits. That’s one of the philosophies. The other one is quality over quantity, at times. There are a lot of variables with that, and I think it changes year to year. Obviously the composition of your team makes a difference as well. If you are really strong at a position, sometimes you want to build that strength and sometimes you look at it like well, can that guy even make our team given where our roster is? There are a lot of variables, and I think each case is kind of specific to itself.”

Did last year, the fact that you did not have room for all of your draft picks play into that? Do you see this as a roster with fewer openings?
“I don’t know that I would say that, in terms of last year impacting us. Look, we lost some guys we were hoping to (bring) to the practice squad and be able to continue to develop and we weren’t able to do that. I think it’s kind of unusual to have that many guys claimed off of one team, but it happened. That didn’t impact how we looked at this year, though.”

Does limited space on a 53-man roster for a team like yours that’s not rebuilding play a role in trading picks?
“Obviously that comes into your thinking somewhat, and yet, there’s always a place for a good player. We’ll find a place.”

Chauncey (Gardner-Johnson) said he saw himself as someone who can play both at the line of scrimmage and a middle sort of guy. Do you see him similarly?
“Yeah. I think that’s one of the things we liked most about him, his versatility. That will sort itself out as we get to training camp and see what he’s capable of handling early.”

Alizé Mack was interesting, because he was a top recruit and went to Notre Dame, but didn’t meet his potential at Notre Dame. Are you intrigued by prospects like that knowing how much potential they started with?
“Yeah. Obviously he was a really highly decorated high school player, and whether he met their expectations or his, that’s for someone else to say. But we like the talent, and we like where we got him. He’ll have an opportunity and he’ll get every opportunity to succeed here.”

It’s so easy to come in here when you have a guy who was team captain, team leader, the coach’s son, all of those things. But when it’s a guy who has had a suspension, how do they have to sell you that they are going to succeed here?
“That’s all part of the information gathering process that we go through, and that we’ve gone through for the last few months. Somebody has red flags on them. We’ve got to get a comfort level for those red flags, and can this be different. What are our concerns, are they legitimate or are they not legitimate? We had a 30-minute visit with Alize’ and it went well. Obviously it went well or we wouldn’t have taken him.”

Was there anything in particular that you like about his attitude?
“Yeah, I think he was pretty accountable. He talked about how he matured and still has room to do that.”

Would you say the role of coaches in the draft process has been increasing over the years? Why do you appreciate their input so much?
“We’ve always had our coaches involved in the process. I think part of that’s the evaluation, obviously of the talent, but also how well they learn, are they going to fit in the room, and what’s the vision. What’s the vision for that particular player in our scheme? Obviously the guys that are coaching them have a perspective that our personnel department doesn’t necessarily have.”

What are some of the things that made (Erik) McCoy someone you coveted so much so early on in the Draft?
“Look, he checks all of the boxes in terms of productive, tough, smart, all of the things you want in an offensive lineman. He’ll fit right in to our room. We’ve got a great o-line room, and he’ll fit right in. No question, he checked all of the boxes.”

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