Lewis: Losing second-round pick limits Saints

BY TED LEWIS

Advocate sportswriter

Mickey Loomis loves his second-round draft picks.

Or more precisely, what he can do with them.

Since becoming the Saints general manager in 2002, Loomis has moved the team’s selection in that round in one way or the other seven times out of 10.

But thanks to Roger Goodell’s ruling in the pay-for-performance scandal, the Saints forfeited both last year’s and this year’s picks in the second round.

This year’s would have been No. 45. In 2009, the Saints traded their second-round pick to the Giants for Jeremy Shockey, and he helped them win the Super Bowl.

The Saints asked for this year’s choice to be restored but were denied.

They go into the draft somewhat limited in their options when it comes to improving their first-round choice, No. 15 overall.

That’s not bad, but Loomis’ history is to move up. Three times in his tenure, the Saints have done so in the first round, never moving back. In 2011, they dealt their No. 1 in 2012 to move into the first round and take Mark Ingram.

Loomis said Tuesday that was a special case: Ingram was one of the top 12 players on the Saints’ board and was available at No. 28. That’s a price they’re unlikely to pay again.

Two Saints’ first-round needs are apparent: outside linebacker in the team’s new 3-4 defense to complement free-agent signee Victor Butler and left tackle, where injury-prone Charles Brown is the leading candidate to replace departed free agent Jermon Bushrod.

What the New York Jets do will be the key. By acquiring a first-round pick from Tampa Bay for Darrelle Revis, they now have the Nos. 9 and 13 picks.

One is likely to go for LSU outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo. The Jets are likely looking at a cornerback to replace Revis with the other.

The Saints could hope outside linebacker Jarvis Jones of Georgia is still on the board. He’s certainly productive (nation-leading 24.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles) and a good fit for the system.

Jets coach Rex Ryan might be inclined to swap spots with the Saints and twin brother Rob in exchange for running back Chris Ivory and a lower-round pick.

The Saints don’t have enough to offer to get one of the top three tackles. Menelik Watson of Florida State will be there at 15, but while he has a tremendous athletic upside, his inexperience makes him a risk.

Trading down to the upper 20s might still yield Watson along with a decent draft pick. But that would take a partner getting a player it wants too.

Best case for the Saints is to have Jones come to them for no or little price and then use the third round for a tackle who can be groomed while hoping Brown can hold together for a season.

And maybe in 2014, Loomis will have second-round pick to play around with again.