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Kristian Garic

Wake up to live, local sports talks with Kristian and T-Bob Hebert on "Double Coverage!" 

Weekdays 6am-9am on 3WL 1350-AM

Twitter: @kristiangaric1
Email: kristian@3wl1350.com

Kristian: Five possible draft targets for the Saints

The Saints will have the flexibility to draft the best prospect on their board when they go on the clock with the 13th pick in round 1. Teams try to position themselves to do just that, but some teams force the pick based on need. In the case of the Saints they need several different positions, so the need isn't as important as the rank of the player. Below is a list of five suitable options for the Saints at thirteen.

1) Alvin "Bud" Dupree (OLB) Kentucky: I don't think he'll be on the board when the Saints pick, but if he's there, he's the safest pick with the pass rushers, aside from Vic Beasley (Clemson). The other pass rushers come with some question marks in regard to their Injuries and character. I don't see him getting out of the top 10 with Atlanta picking 8th. Yep, the Saints will likely face him twice a year.

2) Vic Beasley (OLB) Clemson: He's the pick, if I'm the Saints and on the clock at No. 13. He's going to give you some juice off the edge and can have an impact right away. If he's there, the Saints shouldn't hesitate. Beasley is another player that might not get out of the top 10 though.

3) Amari Cooper (WR) Alabama: Now this is a reach to have him available, but if he is, the Saints can pass on a outside linebacker. Cooper might be the best wide out in the class, and you know what you are going to get with a Nick Saban coached player. Think back to what Sean Payton said "We want smart, tough football players." Cooper fits that description.

4) Danny Shelton (NT) Washington: He's a space eater in the middle, something the Saints need. He might go off the board one pick earlier to Cleveland but I would be ok with this selection. He's a great character guy with a mean streak that I like!

5) La'el Collins (OT/G) LSU: I think he can play tackle at the NFL level, but some analysts have him slated to slide inside at guard. If the wide recievers and pass rushers are off the board when the Saints pick, this would be the safest, and wouldn't be a reach or a forced selection. However, how much will he help the defense? Not to mention he'll have to beat out Tim Lelito at guard first. I expect the Saints to draft one or two offensive linemen this year.

When you size up the Saints draft, I think you can look for 3 of the first 5 selections to be on the defensive side of the football at the following postions: OLB (pass rusher), defensive tackle/defensive end, and inside linebacker. Of the two remaining in the first five selections, New Orleans will likely look to add a wide receiver, and offensive lineman.
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Kristian: Brees talks 'young, hungry players,' Saints 2015 schedule

The Saints returned to work and the off-season conditioning program on Monday, and Saints QB Drew Brees says the workout is important for the 2015 season. "I'm excited for the opportunity we have, the opportunity that these young guys have... everyone wants to talk about the guys that depart. Well, how about the guys that are now given that opportunity?" Brees said.

One of the young players Brees is referring to is WR Brandin Cooks. "We spent time together this offseason and I love eveyrthing about him. His make up; he's got all kinds of talent!" Brees and Cooks worked out together in San Diego during the spring. "We have a bunch of young hungry guys that see a great opportunity," Brees added.
Brees also weighed in on what most feel is a very favorable schedule that was released yesterday: "It doesn't matter who you're playing and when your playing, you gotta play your best. These are all really good teams that are playing for the same thing we're playing for."

The NFL draft starts next Thursday and Brees might not watch every pick peel off the board, but certainly will be keeping an eye on the Saints picks. "I think we're poised to make a big play in this draft, with the number of picks we have and the amount of talent that's out there," he said.

Brees was also asked today if any discussions have taken place on a possible contract extension with the team, and he said the same thing that he told me on Sports Talk a few weeks ago: "If there was, I wouldn't say anything about it, because those conversations are between me and our organization. That's the stance I will always take with that."
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Kristian: Saints 2015 schedule has interesting scenarios for prime-time

The 2015 NFL schedule will be unveiled tomorrow at 7pm CST. The opponents for 2015 are already etched in stone; the Saints will play home games against Atlanta, Tampa, and Carolina as well as the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions. The Saints will play road games against their usual NFC south division opponents, and five more against Philadlephia, Washington, Houston, Indianapolis and Arizona.

While we don't know the exact times and dates, it's interesting to think about the possible season opener and prime-time match ups. Typically the networks love the Saints vs Cowboys in prime time. I think you can also speculate one of the match ups with Atlanta will be either on a Thursday, Sunday or Monday night. If you're looking at another possible prime time game, consider Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts vs Drew Brees and the Saints.

I find it interesting and noteworthy that the Saints will play as many as 12 games in Dome environments. There are two possible cold weather games on tap for the Saints at Washington and Philadelphia. I would imagine the schedule makers won't let the Saints off the hook without going to either or perhaps both of those cities in November or December. Arizona, Houston and Indianapolis have retractable roof stadiums, and for the most part if the weather is an issue it won't be a factor on the field.
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Kristian: Saints re-sign WR Joe Morgan

The Saints have signed Joe Morgan to a one year contract.

Morgan joined the Saints in 2012, and was released last season after serving a two game, team-imposed suspension for undisclosed reasons. Morgan will have another shot with the team that gave him two already.

If he works out, he will provide the Saints with another speedy target on the outside for Drew Brees, who lost TE Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this off-season via trades.
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Kristian: Saints extend Jahri Evans, sign CB Wilson from Jets

Despite speculation the Saints might be looking to trade him, the team announced today they have extended G Jahri Evans' contract by one year, and also signed free agent CB Kyle Wilson to a one year deal. Evans' contract extension should free up some needed cap space for the Saints. Wilson was a former 1st round draft pick for the New York Jets in 2010 out of Boise State. Wilson was widely considered a disappointment in New York. Going back to Evans for a minute, Sean Payton said last week at the owners meetings that his contract wasn't totally resolved, and also mentioned that Evans was a part of trade talks this off-season.
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Kristian: Saints keeping close eye on LSU talent at Pro Day

Nearly every team in the NFL was represented today in Baton Rouge at LSU pro day, and much of the attention was paid to offensive lineman La'el Collins and cornerback Jalen Collins.  La'el returned to LSU for his senior season and looks primed to capitalize on a really good year. "He's played guard before, but the question is, can he play tackle at the NFL level? I think he can," said LSU coach Les Miles.

Jalen Collins didn't particapate in Pro Day drills because of minor surgery on his foot to repair a stress fracture he sustained at the NFL scouting combine. Collins says he should be back at full strength in a few weeks. Saints defensive assistant Dennis Allen met with Collins today, and Jalen is also scheduled to visit with the Ravens and Jaguars next week. 
The player that might have helped his case the most was RB Kenny Hilliard, running a solid 4.5 40 yard dash, trimming 3/10ths of a second of his previous time.  Hilliard could be a nice selection for a team that is looking for a hard nosed between-the-tackles runner later in the middle rounds of the draft. Terrance McGee also had a solid showing, and one NFL scout says he reminded him a lot of former Saints RB Pierre Thomas, with his balance and excellent vision.  

Linebacker Kwon Alexander didn't run the individual drills but executed the postional drills, and his former coach Les Miles says Alexander is a great fit in the NFL because his coverage skills. "If you need him to match up with a receiver, or running back in the passing game, he can do that.  Kwon has the ability to be an 'every down' linebacker.  I visited with Alexander briefly and he told me most of the scouts he's talked to feel like he's likely to go in the second round of the draft. 
For the first time since joining the Saints this off-season, assistant General Manager Jeff Ireland talked to the media. "Mickey (Loomis) has been a mentor of mine.  He's a very good executive. He's someone I look up to. It's great to be part of a great organization," Ireland explained.  Yeah, I know it is what he was supposed to say - but he also explained how he ended up with the Saints. "I saw that Ryan (Pace) was going to Chicago, I just sent Mickey a text that said 'just keep me in mind.'  In the end we went to dinner to see if we were on the same page, and ultimately that's what it was," Ireland said.  

Ireland also has intimate knowledge of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.  The Saints acquired Ellerbe in the Kenny Stills trade after Ireland originally signed him in Miami coming from Baltimore in 2013.  Ireland said if they can keep him healthy, he'll be a productive player for the Saints.  "He's a great person, good leader. If he gets back to full health he's going to be a productive player for this franchise," he added.

The Saints are in great position to bolster the defense with five picks in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.
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Kristian: Free agent OLB Anthony Spencer visiting Saints

Sources tell me that free agent OLB/DE Anothony Spencer is in New Orleans visiting with Saints brass this week. ​ Spencer was the 26th overall pick in the 2007 draft and went to Dallas, where he has been ever since. A memorable moment came for Spencer in this year's playoffs against the Detroit Lions - he is the player that forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that might have ended the game if DeMarcus Lawrence had not fumbled the ball while returning it.

Click here to view Spencer's stats
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Kristian: Loomis says "not everything is for sale"

Despite speculative reports that the Saints might be in all-out re-shaping mode, and that everything and every player might be on the trading block, general manager Mickey Loomis says that’s not really the case. “We’ve never put a 'for sale' sign out on all of our players.  That was never true, and isn’t true,” Loomis explained.  

The Saints have fielded calls on a variety of things: “You get calls from teams all the time asking about certain players.  We’re always available to listen, but that doesn’t mean we’re trying to make wholesale roster changes,” added Loomis. As for the talk surrounding the possibility of the Saints trading quarterback Drew Brees: “I haven’t made a single call asking anybody about Drew Brees. That’s just... some media members that have too much time on their hands that start coming up with these 'what if' scenarios!” Loomis quipped.  

Sometimes where there is smoke there is fire, but I thought all along the Saints would have been completely foolish to trade Drew Brees this off-season. No doubt the Saints have been busy, adding two free agents (Brandon Browner and C.J Spiller) and acquiring two others via a trade. “We’ve got, ultimately, a list of somewhere between 19 and 20 items that we want to get accomplished in the off-season. I didn’t think this year was any different than any other year, except there were a couple of moves involving good players,” Loomis added.  

The Saints are likely not finished re-shaping the team - armed with nine draft picks, that’s a safe assumption - and it’s still possible for a couple of veterans to be added or subtracted to or from the roster on or before the draft at the end of April and beginning of May. 
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Kristian: Brees trade rumors are completely false

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Saints say they are not looking to trade quarterback Drew Brees.

General Manager Mickey Loomis told the USA today, "Anyone that thinks we're trading Drew Brees, that is just not true."

It has also been reported that the Saints want to trade up in the draft to select Marcus Mariota:

New Orleans Saints: Picking 13th overall, and 31st overall, and with Drew Brees in what could be his last season in New Orleans and with Sean Payton remaking the team on the fly and making some shocking moves already (the Jimmy Graham trade, for one), getting a quarterback who looks like a tremendous scheme fit at a cheap price might be just want he needs.

The Saints have made some bold moves this offseason with a blockbuster trade of Jimmy Graham to start the offseason, but a proposed trade to move up to the second overall pick might teeter on the edge of boneheaded, not bold.  I am on board with the idea that the Saints need to start thinking about the quarterback of the future.  The move to No.2 overall for a shot at FSU's Jameis Winston or Marcus Marriota would be extremely expensive.  

Right now the 2015 second overall pick carries a 2,600 point value on the draft pick trade chart originally developed by former Dallas Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson, and has since been revised by clubs. Using a chart similar to the current one, the Saints have a total of 1,150 points with their thirteenth overall pick in round 1 and additional 600 points with the 31st pick in round one acquired in the Jimmy Graham trade.   The grant total points equals 1,750, which is 850 points south of where they would need to be to pull off a potential trade into that number two spot in the first round. 

So with that, let’s see what else the Saints would have to give up making up for the 850 point difference. The Saints 2nd (44th overall) round pick this year carries a point total of around 450 points. The Saints are now sitting 400 points shy of enough ammunition to make it happen.  They’ve got two 3rd round picks at 11th (75th overall) and 14th (78th overall) in round 3.  The 75th overall pick carries a point total of 215 points, and the 78th overall pick in round three carries a point total of 200 points.

We’ve finally arrived at the 2,600 point threshold needed for the Saints to potentially trade up to No. 2 overall.  That would be really taxing to give up five draft picks to draft one player that you hope, and I say again hope - could be the QB of the future.  If you draft a player that high, and that costly, he has to play right away.  The Saints would go from 9 draft picks to 5. Oh by the way, in this scenario the Saints would also not pick again until the fifth round.  NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!  This would border on the Ricky Williams trade level from Mike Ditka.  

Let’s look at the most recent trade for a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick.  Back in 2012, the Washington Redskins engaged in a trade with the St. Louis Rams for a shot at Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.  The Redskins gave up a ton!  St. Louis received the Skins 1st round pick (6th overall), Washington’s 2013 and 2014 first round picks and their 2012 second round pick. OUCH!  That bold move cost head coach Mike Shanahan his job one year later in 2013.  Sure if RGIII and Skins won a super bowl Shanahan would still be employed and in all likelihood it would have been thought to be worth it.  However, NFL coaches don’t like to put their job on the line for an unknown at that position.  

A trade like this would go against what I think I know about how Sean Payton views the quarterback position and how you construct a team. So what about the possibility of moving the two first round picks this season, and the team’s first round pick in 2016?  The Saints would probably have to throw in another pick, perhaps a second or third round pick as well.  That’s kind of counterproductive don’t you think; especially when you consider the obvious need for more than just one impact player.

The Saints have traded up in the first round three times under Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis.  In 2008, the Saints moved up in round 1 for DT Sedrick Ellis; in 2011 the team moved back into round 1 to draft running back Mark Ingram, and just last year the Saints moved up to draft WR Brandin Cooks. With Ellis' trade the Saints gave up a third rounder to move three spot; with Ingram the Saints gave up their 2012 first round pick, and last year with Cooks the team also mortgaged a 1st round pick and a third round pick.  Loomis and Payton haven’t been shy about rolling the dice in the first round.  The trade last year allowed the Saints to move seven spots.  

The Saints have way too many holes to fill, and trading up for a quarterback fills a future hole, not a current one.  I understand Loomis and Payton might have begun to start thinking about life after Drew Brees - and rightfully so, but pulling off a trade like this would virtually ensure the two might not be around to see the fruits of their bold move if there were any to come out of it.  With as many holes as the Saints have to fill on this current roster, it just doesn’t pass the common sense test at all.  Perhaps, the Saints can sit back and draft a quarterback of the future with the 31st pick, and then maybe I could get on board with that decision, all the while addressing needs such as Linebacker, Cornerback and offensive line with their other 8 picks.  Going back to the 2010 draft, the Saints have selected 28 players; only 11 of those picks are still with the team. Let’s compare New Orleans to the team they model their franchise after; the New England Patriots.  New England has drafted 44 players in the same time span and still have 21 of those picks on their squad.  Basic Math, more draft picks in your possession the higher the probability you will hit on some of those picks.  The Saints need to play the odds, in an otherwise unpredictable and against the odd’s proposition that is the NFL draft. 

New Orleans has to start hitting and hitting big on first round picks.  Since 2010, the Saints have had five first round picks, and while it’s netted them solid players I don’t think we could make the case it’s brought them that impact player they’ve needed.  WR Brandin Cooks has that potential; DE Cameron Jordan looked to be that player in 2013, but had a dip in production last year.  RB Mark Ingram is a nice piece to the puzzle, but will never be a game changer.  S Kenny Vaccaro had an outstanding rookie season, but was benched at the end of last season. 

Here is the big X-Factor, what if Drew Brees were included in a trade that netted the Saints another number 1 pick? Well, throw in the towel, because the team is officially in rebuilding mode then.  That would signal a dumpster fire, and I don’t know that a complete rebuild is necessary for the Saints to contend this year.  Why get rid of a franchise quarterback until you absolutely have to?  Why roll the dice and your future at the expense of a proven commodity like Brees for a player that you hope could one day turn into the second coming of Brees? 

If anything, you wait patiently to see if a team in front of you slips up and misses on a player (Mariota) and perhaps you draft him at 13 in round one.  You’ve got what you hope is your quarterback of the future, and still have the ammunition to draft and fill holes on your roster.  

Trading up to the No. 2 would be way too costly for a team that doesn’t have a lot of equity, Both Winston and Mariota are not “lock” picks in the mold of Andrew Luck, and Peyton Manning.  If Winston and Mariota were “locks,” teams wouldn’t be entertaining the idea of moving off that pick.  Stay patient! The Saints have their QB, they just need to help him with other picks.  

The more I think about it, the less this trade makes sense.  Why trade Jimmy Graham if you are planning on drafting a rookie quarterback?  Wait because he netted you some ammunition?  Perhaps, but you could have kept him and just sent three first round picks to a team and kept Graham for your young signal caller.  The Saints are banking on Brees' ability to make everyone around him better and that’s why they were willing to part with Kenny Stills and Graham.  A rookie wouldn’t allow them to justify that thought process.  


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Kristian: Saints CB Lewis addresses Instagram rant on Sportstalk

We've all been in this position before; I know I have said or written something I've regretted.  Saints defensive back Keenan Lewis also regrets his Instagram rant of a week ago and is happy to have a new deal with the Black and Gold.  "I'm a human being. I get scared sometimes, and it wasn't about the money. It was the promise because the love I had for my city, I just didn't want to go nowhere, that's it!" Lewis said when he appeared on Sports Talk with me and the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert.  Lewis and the Saints reworked the final three years of his contract, guaranteeing $10.5 million dollars remaining.  

Last week, Lewis drew the ire of Saints fans when he expressed his frustration over his contract on social media, and says it wasn't a great decision to post his feelings on Instagram. "I truly apologize, to the organization and the fans," he said, saying he was just trying to prove he's loyal to the team and to the city. "They got guys around the NFL that are all about the money.  I am here to make a difference in my community.  Leaving was definitely not an option," he explained.  

I can certainly appreciate the honesty from Lewis recognizing that his rant on social media was regrettable.  Lewis insists he was just trying to communicate how badly he wanted to be a part of turning things around for the Saints in 2015. "I never wanted to be on another team, even when I was drafted and ended up in Pittsburgh.  I'm definitely playing for the fans down here... I'm just trying to make a difference," Lewis said. 

As for the 2015 season, Lewis vows a bounce back year for the team and the defense. "We are definitely going to get it together. We are disappointed about the season we had last year. We know we're a better football team.   Guys are working extremely hard this off-season building the chemistry that we need. I can promise you... we will be ten times better than we were last season," Lewis said.  

I was exceptionally critical of the decision by Lewis to air his dirty laundry in a public forum last week, and I can certainly accept his apology.  Can you? 

To listen to the whole conversation between Lewis, Bobby and me, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Keenan Lewis talks to Bobby and Kristian about 2015 Saints
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