Arrested, suspended, overhyped, undersized, and just plain doesn't fit the scheme and position. One of these traits or issues fits each of the prospects I will discuss here. In fact, all of these fit one prospect in particular. The New Orleans Saints had a very quiet, if not all together anonymous draft nationally. If you were to ask most major media outlets I'd be surprised if they could name the Saints first round pick.
Two safeties were picked after Kenny Vaccaro in the first round, Eric Reid (No. 18, SF) and Matt Elam (32nd, Bal), and both have been praised for their potential, athleticism, and punishing hits. Vaccaro, well, the next person to mention his name will be the first. I prefer it this way though. Under the radar and out of the spotlight seems to be where the Saints tend to flourish. Let the other franchises deal with the headaches, holdouts, and potential failures of their highly hyped draft picks.
There has been a great deal of speculation and debate for quite a few months now over who the Saints should draft, and even more over who they should absolutely avoid. Now that the dust has settled and the draft is over, let's breathe a collective sigh of relief over those picks that were passed on which would have caused a catastrophic meltdown within Who Dat Nation.
Picks made before the Saints at 15th overall:
No character issues or incidents to speak of, but Mingo is seen as a project and may not be an immediate impact player for the upcoming season. For a contender like the Saints who have a championship window to consider, a project player who would be moved from DE to OLB in a 3-4 system may not be the smartest move. In a few years, after acclimating himself to the pro game and adding some size, Mingo may become the NFL's next premier pass rusher. The Saints have neither the luxury of time or quality defenders to have made this pick had he dropped down the board. Good luck to him though.
Many thought Sean Payton wouldn't be able to restrain himself should Austin have slipped to No. 15, and maybe they would've been right. Thankfully we will never know. Austin is a weapon for sure, drawing comparisons to Percy Harvin and DeSean Jackson. The diminutive wideout has blazing speed and shiftiness, and he should be a huge x-factor for the Rams offense, but it's for the best he didn't slip to the Saints spot. There were far too many deficiencies on defense to burn a first round pick on a wide receiver. Now a fifth round pick is a different story...
Fluker is a prime example of the "played for a big-name school, must be a great lineman" mentality. Maybe I'm wrong, but trying to play Fluker on Brees' "blind side" at left tackle would've been horrible. Fluker's a good right tackle and that's about it. Picking him in the high-to-mid range of the first round to play LT is foolish and irresponsible. Maybe San Diego's trying to force Philip Rivers into a premature retirement.
"Fluker Face" via www.bsideblog.com
Picks made after the Saints at 15th overall:
Alec Ogletree, ILB - St. Louis Rams (30th Overall)
A couple of problems here. Ogletree's an impact 3-4 inside linebacker and a big-time thumper in the middle, but ILB just isn't an area of dire need for the Saints. Pass rushers and help in the secondary were far more pressing needs. Second, Ogletree has a laughably questionable character, and it's these issues that put up red flags within Who Dat Nation. I'm not surprised Loomis and Payton passed on Ogletree due to his character issues over his talent. The Saints front office tends to put a premium on character, and speaking of character...
Ah yes, the Honey Badger, the most cringe/praise worthy prospect in this year's draft. Absolutely no one divided Who Dat Nation more than Mathieu. Supporters praised his ball-hawking skills and football instinct while detractors pointed out his lack of size, his weed dependency, his stints in rehab, his poor judgement, and the fact that he doesn't quite fit in the defensive scheme.
Other than that, this dude is money , but Arizona snagged him in the third round, just seven spots before the Saints had their shot at infamy. Once the pick was made, we were all given the pleasure to witness this ESPN interview:
Video via NFLReliable
After hearing words like "tooken," Trey Wingo began to conduct the interview as if he were speaking to a foreigner with a rudimentary understanding of the English language. The "interview" was simultaneously humorous and uncomfortable. As I watched the clip live, I clearly realized that the Saints dodged a major mistake right then and there.
Before that, I was for picking Mathieu, as long as it was in the sixth round or as an UDFA. In fact, just three months ago I would've used a fourth on him, I know, I was desperate for turnovers and playmakers. The illusion was shattered in that moment though, and did you see those shots of him playing pool while waiting to be selected? Seriously dude, you're not doing yourself any favors.
You know who came out a loser in the Mathieu selection? Not the Cardinals, Mathieu just might make some plays as a deep centerfield free safety, and not Mathieu himself, maybe the dry desert heat of Arizona may temper his need for weed. No, the most negatively affected party here is Patrick Peterson.
Patrick Peterson: All-Pro cornerback and all-around professional is now a full-time babysitter. I'm sure for Peterson it was cool to help an old friend out during the offseason. Peterson taught Mathieu a few tricks and gave him a few lessons on professionalism, but having to turn a gesture of friendship into a full-time job sounds like a severe screwjob.
Look at it like this, you've got your life together and an old friend comes asking for help. He's a mess but you genuinely like the guy and you lend him a hand. You clean him up, show him how to interview for a job, lend him a few bucks and put him up in your home. Finally, you send him on his way and wish him luck. Months later he returns, this time with with his bags in hand and he tells you he got a job working next to you. You're Patrick Peterson.
"Hey Patrick, you're our best player, do you want to deal with some unnecessary drama as a reward?" Hey Patrick, when that deal's up in Arizona, come down to New Orleans, they'll treat you right.
The Saints avoided some unnecessary luxuries, some poor fits and some flat-out disasters in the 2013 draft. I like the Saints "anonymous" draft, everyone will know the newest Saints names when it counts, and that's just fine by me. Who are you glad the Saints avoided the most this draft season? Please vote in the poll and leave your comments below!