by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
New Orleans Saints
1 – DE Cam Jordan – 6’4, 287 – Cal
1 – RB Mark Ingram – 5’9, 215 – Alabama
3 – LB Martez Wilson – 6’4, 250 – Illinois
3 – CB Johnny Patrick – 5’11, 191 – Louisville
7 – DE Greg Romeus – 6’5, 264 – Pitt
7 – LB Nate Bussey – 6’1, 228 – Illinois
The Saints, like most of us, were shocked when Cam Jordan was still on the board at pick 24. They snatched him up quickly. Jordan played DE in Cal’s 3-4 attack. He’ll play DE for the Saints, who shift between a 4-3 and a 3-4. His versatility is a perfect fit for Gregg Williams and his creative style of defense. Not only do the Saints like to mix things up, they love to blitz and be creative. Jordan is athletic enough to be good on stunts or he can drop back in coverage on zone blitzes. Jordan is also a smart player. Not just anyone can play for Williams. He needs players who have the versatility to execute his schemes and who are smart enough to understand a complex playbook.
Jordan had a good career at Cal. He had 34 TFLs, 4 FFs, and even deflected 5 passes. He picked off a pass back in 2008. Jordan is quick, but not explosive. He is fast. He sometimes rushed as a DT and other times as a DE. Good motor. Combine that with his speed and he was able to make pursuit plays. Good pass rusher. Able to win with his burst off the ball at times, but also skilled. Has a good swim move. Jordan went to the Senior Bowl and really put on a show. He was dominant in 1-on-1 drills. Seems like a coachable player. His father Steve was a TE for the Vikings in the late 1980s. Jordan is the kind of athletic, versatile, high character DL that all 32 teams would love to have.
The Saints traded back into the 1st round when another good player was still on the board at pick 28. They saw RB Mark Ingram and decided that he was too good to pass up. Ingram was a great college RB. He won the Heisman in 2009 and helped lead Alabama to the National Title that year. I am a huge fan of Ingram’s. He wasn’t a huge guy or great athlete. Ingram was a football player, a skilled RB. Ran for 3.261 yards and 42 TDs in his career. That was in less than 3 full seasons.
College football is filled with great RBs, but Ingram seemed like a special player to me. I loved the way he runs. He goes hard. He runs with attitude. Arm tackles won’t bring him down. He is balanced, under control, and strong. You can’t count on huge plays, but he’ll get you 4 yards a pop and keeps the sticks moving. That is what the average team should look for in a RB. Some knock him for not being “special”. Ingram has the build I want in a RB at 5’9, 215. He runs in the 4.5 range, which is plenty fast. I think the most important traits for a good RB are vision and feet. Ingram is strong in both areas.
Ingram can be elusive and make guys miss in tight spaces. He’d rather go N-S and break arm tackles, but occasionally you’ll see a spin move or something fancy from him. One of the things I love about Ingram is that he doesn’t need room to run. He’s comfortable in traffic. He loves to get into the open, but is patient enough to work through the trash at the LOS to get to daylight. Some runners bounce everything wide and then get to the NFL where that just doesn’t work. Ingram has an NFL ready running style.
Ingram is a great fit for the Saints. That offense was virtually unstoppable in 2009 when they had guys like Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell to move the chains. That opened up the passing game for Drew Brees. The run game was inconsistent in 2010. Ingram is perfect for New Orleans because he can be the workhorse runner, but he also is a good blocker and receiver. I expect him to make a smooth transition to the NFL and really be a terrific player. Love this pick.
The next Saints pick came in the 3rd round. Gregg Williams got another toy when they added LB Martez Wilson. Like Jordan, Wilson is athletic and versatile. He played ILB last year at Illinois, but Wilson is able to line up anywhere. He’s big enough for SAM. He is fast enough for WLB. He was very good last year when playing in the middle. Wilson moved around some at Illinois and didn’t get to master one scheme. Because of that he’s raw as he begins his NFL career. Wilson has 1st round size and physical ability. The question is where exactly the Saints use him and how they use him. Wilson is a good pass rusher. He finished his career with 9 sacks in 3 years. In that sense he is a perfect fit for Williams and his blitzing scheme. Wilson must show that he can master the playbook. LBs have a lot of responsibilities in the Williams system. This isn’t just lining up and attacking. The good news is that the Saints have veteran LBs in place. Wilson isn’t under pressure to perform right away. He and Williams can work together to figure out the best situation for him. Good value in the 3rd round.
New Orleans had another 3rd round pick and took one of my favorite players in the whole draft, Louisville CB Johnny Patrick. I really loved watching him play. Patrick is a good hitter and tackler. Physical player. Good STer. Loves to press and be aggressive in coverage. Not huge, but plays big and with a lot of confidence. Solid player prior to 2010, but really came alive with the new coaching staff. Had a great year. Picked off 5 passes and also had 6.5 TFLs. That should give you an idea of just what a complete CB he is. Broke up 12 more passes, had a FF, and blocked one kick. There really is only one downside. Patrick lacks ideal speed. Runs in the mid 4.5 range. That’s the cutoff for CBs, per Bill Polian. I think Patrick can play CB in the NFL. At the least, he could be a Nickelback and great STer.
Next up for the Saints was a pair of 7th round picks. They took a flyer on DE Greg Romeus. Real interesting player with a hard luck story. Romeus built himself up while at Pitt and was considered a real good prospect after his Junior year. He thought about going pro, but stayed in school. He then had a back injury that required surgery and knocked him out for about half of his Senior season. Romeus worked really hard to come back as soon as possible. In his first game back, Romeus tore his ACL and that ended his career. He went from solid prospect to late round medical risk. Harsh. Romeus has a great frame at 6’5, 260. You don’t see a ton of DEs with that kind of size anymore. Romeus isn’t an explosive rusher, but had 19.5 sacks in 3 years. He can get to the QB. Real good fit for the Saints D. Can be a DE in the 3-4 or 4-3. Big concern for Romeus is his back/knee. Must show he can stay healthy.
Finally, New Orleans added another player from Illinois, LB Nate Bussey. He is a bit undersized, but can make plays. Like Patrck, Bussey really emerged as a Senior. He was suddenly in his final year, but also had a new coordinator and scheme. Bussey finished 2nd on the team in tackles (to some guy named Wilson). Bussey had 8.5 TFLs, an INT, and a couple of pass break-ups. He showed the potential to be a good cover LB. He also blocked a kick and showed good STs ability. Projects to WLB in the NFL. Has an uphill challenge to make the roster due to the Saints depth at LB.