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The NFL Draft Under Loomis & Payton: Who? or Who Dat!

The New Orleans Saints select: Who cares! Where's my contract?! (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
The New Orleans Saints select: Who cares! Where's my contract?! (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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The New Orleans Saints have just completed their seventh NFL Draft in the Mickey Loomis/Sean Payton era. The embattled duo have found some cornerstones of the franchise in the draft, and we're not talking top 15 picks either. Mickey Loomis has taken chances in later rounds on raw talent and potential that has blossomed into impact beyond even the highest expectations of Who Dat Nation.

Coach Sean Payton has been able to get a lot out of many prospects who little was expected, while injuries have taken away the potential that might have been from others. Although Payton has been banished from the NFL until Lombardi Gras II: The Last Laugh, it's to be expected that he had input on his favored prospects during his "getting his affairs in order" period.

Since 2006 the Saints have had their share of misses (Who?) and quite a few hits (Who Dat!). What does 2012 have in store? Let's take a look back at the first six "PayLoo" drafts and what they may tell us about the future.

2006 Draft (5-3)

Round 1- Reggie Bush RB Who Dat!
-For all of his faults he was a matchup nightmare and created the template for how Darren Sproles is used today
-Currently with Dolphins

Round 2 - Roman Harper S Who Dat!
-Can't cover his own head with a paper bag but can lay down some hits
-Five season starter at strong safety

Round 4 - Jahri Evans G Who Dat!
-Simply outstanding, perennial all-pro guard
-Six season starter at guard

Round 5 - Rob Ninkovich DE Who?
-Saw limited action as a backup before succumbing to injuries. Waived one season later.
-Currently a linebacker with Patriots

Round 6 - Mike Hass WR Who?
-Released before regular season started

Round 6 - Josh Lay CB Who?
-Released before regular season started

Round 7 - Zach Strief T Who Dat!
-Longtime backup tackle / eligible receiver
-Starting tackle in 2011, will compete with Charles Brown for spot in 2012

Round 7 - Marques Colston WR Who Dat!
-Drew Brees’ top target since day one, he broke the mold
-Likely to be regarded as the best wide receiver in Saints franchise history

2007 Draft (2-5)
Round 1 - Robert Meachem WR Who Dat!
-Slow start to his career due to injury but was a solid contributor over the last 3 seasons
-Currently with Chargers

Round 3 - Usama Young CB/S Who?
-Served as a backup during his entire career with Saints
-Exposed as a weakness in the secondary during Super Bowl XLIV
-Currently with Browns

Round 3 - Andy Alleman G Who?
-Cut after one season, never played for Saints

Round 4 - Antonio Pittman RB Who?
-Thourougly outworked and outplayed in training camp by undrafted free agent RB Pierre Thomas

Round 4 - Jermon Bushrod T Who Dat!
-Although he's the "weak link" of the offensive line, good value for a late fourth rounder from a small university
-Three season starter at tackle

Round 5 - David Jones CB Who?
-Released before season started

Round 7 - Marvin Mitchell LB Who?
-Served as a backup for four seasons with Saints, he was underwhelming in action
-Currently with Vikings

2008 Draft (2-4)
Round 1 - Sedrick Ellis DT Who?
-Far too little an impact for the 7th overall pick in the draft
-Four season starter at defensive tackle

Round 2 - Tracy Porter CB Who Dat!
-"He did it it to Favre, now he’s done it to Manning!" That is all, enough said.
-Currently with Broncos

Round 5 - DeMario Pressley DT Who?
-Served as a backup for two seasons with Saints and was thoroughly underwhelming

Round 5 - Carl Nicks OT Who Dat!
-Another late round Loomis gem, among the league’s best offensive linemen
-Currently with Buccaneers

Round 6 - Taylor Mehlhaff K Who?
-Released before regular season started, Loomis shanked this one

Round 7 - Adrian Arrington WR Who?
-Let’s be honest about this one folks, no late round gem here. AA is not the guy many hope he is

2009 Draft (2-2)
Round 1 - Malcolm Jenkins CB/S Who Dat!
-Although he has been wildly inconsistent he has all of the tools for success under Spagnuolo
-Two season starter at free safety

Round 4 - Chip Vaughn S Who?
-Got hurt, collected a ring, got cut, the end

Round 4 - Stanley Arnoux LB Who?
-See Chip Vaughn, just took longer to cut

Round 5 - Thomas Morstead P Who Dat!
-One of the NFL's best punters
-Three season starter as Punter/KOS
-Can execute one hell of an onside kick!

2010 Draft (4-2)
Round 1 - Patrick Robinson CB Who Dat!
-Primarily a nickelback in his first season, he made significant strides in year 2
-Projected starter at cornerback in 2012

Round 2 - Charles Brown T Who Dat!
-The jury's still out on this one
-Needs to beat out veteran Zach Strief for the starting tackle position to justify a second round pick

Round 3 - Jimmy Graham TE Who Dat!
-'Superstar' Jimmy Graham disintegrated the mold for an NFL tight end
-Quite simply the best around

Round 4 - Al Woods DT Who?
-Released before regular season stared
-Currently with Steelers

Round 5 - Matt Tennant C Who Dat!
-The jury's still out on this one
-Needs to beat out Brian De La Puente for starting Center position or at least not miss a beat when he sees action

Round 7 - Sean Canfield QB Who?
-Usually the first guy released when the Saints need roster space
-Currently Saints practice squad quarterback

2011 Draft (3-3)
Round 1 - Cameron Jordan DE Who Dat!
-The jury's still out on this one
-He needs to have a serious impact in 2012 under Spagnuolo to justify the first round pick, he'll be looking like a future Who? otherwise
-Projected starting defensive end in 2012

Round 1 - Mark Ingram RB Who Dat!
-Suffered toe injury in his first season, hopefully he is less injury prone than the last Heisman winning first round pick by the Saints
-Will continue splitting carries with Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, and Darren Sproles
-He had impact when he got carries but the 3 to 4 back system the Saints use makes it difficult to get a rhythm going

Round 3 - Martez Wilson LB Who?
-The jury is out on Wilson, tentatively
-He served as a backup in his first season and will need to have more of an impact in 2012
-He will need to compete with the new free agent linebackers for a starting spot which may prove difficult

Round 3 - Johnny Patrick CB Who Dat!
-Jury's out, we'll get more of a sample size in 2012
-Patrick didn't see a lot of action in year 1, but didn't look too in over his head out there
-He will need to solidify his role as top nickleback

Round 7 - Greg Romeus DE Who?
-Missed entire first season due to lower back and ACL injuries suffered in college
-*If healthy*, Romeus can go "beast mode" on the opposition and will become a classic Loomis late round gem
-These injuries will just be too much to overcome though and will likely rob him of a great NFL career

Round 7 - Nate Bussey LB Who?
-Waived before start of regular season
-Currently Saints practice squad linebacker

Well here we are, the 2012 Draft
Round 3 - Akiem Hicks DT
Initial reaction - Future Who?
-Physically Hicks seems to have the tools for success but I worry he will not be up to the challenge of NFL competition
-The Saints track record on defensive linemen has been poor at best

Round 4 - Nick Toon WR
Initial reaction - Future Who Dat!
-Toon has the skill set to be productive in this offense, a precise route-runner with a strong build and good hands. Welcome to New Orleans, Nick!

Round 5 - Corey White S
Initial reaction - Future Who?
-Although White looks talented on paper, he reeks of a backup/special teamer to me. Hey, at least be a good one!

Round 6 - Andrew Tiller G
Initial reaction - Future Who?
-BIG dude, 6'2, 324, and well... yeah he's big. Not much space on this offensive line for him, Saints are solid at guard

Round 7 - Marcel Jones T
Initial reaction - Future Who?
-More size here, 6'6, 322, he has a shot at a backup tackle spot but that's about it

In my estimation, the Loomis/Payton era drafts have given the Saints 18 Who Dats! to 19 Who's?. That's not a bad ratio considering the far more miss than hit reality of the NFL draft process. PayLoo has given Saints fans reason to believe in their evaluations over the years, but I think we will look back at the 2012 Saints draft as the weakest during this era. Hey, stranger things have happened though. The draft has always been the most inexact of sciences.