Loomis says Saints ready for the draft

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, center, and NFL Network's Mike Mayock are seen during NFL football pro day, Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) ORG XMIT: NYOTK
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, center, and NFL Network's Mike Mayock are seen during NFL football pro day, Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said the team is ready for the start of the NFL draft on Thursday, but would not identify the player or positions the team is focused on when it makes its first selection at No. 27.

"We have a pretty good idea of the first half of the draft, but after that who knows," said Loomis, speaking to the media in his last pre-draft news conference Wednesday.

This is the first year the NFL has added an extra two weeks to its NFL draft process, but Loomis said the extra time wasn't a factor.

"I don't really like it, but I can't point to anything and say this is why I don't like it," Loomis said.

The first day of the three-day NFL draft is on Thursday with the first round. Friday will consist of the second and third rounds. The final rounds are on Saturday.

There has been speculation that the Saints could look at taking a center in the draft, and Loomis said he thought the team had the structure in place to draft a rookie at the position and start him right away if needed because of the presence of its veteran guards (Pro Bowlers Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans) and future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.

There has been a lot of speculation from NFL experts about a bevy of first-round trades, but Loomis wasn't sure.

Loomis said with all of the talk it wouldn't surprise him, but he doesn't have a feel one way or the other.

The Saints talked with 60 playersa at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year and used 29 of their allowed 30 pre-draft visits.

"I enjoy the process from beginning to end," he said.

Here are some other nuggets from Loomis:

- Loomis said it was a "financial decision" when the Saints refused the option to extend the rookie contract of running back Mark Ingram.

"We told mark the decision was not reflective of what we thought about him," Loomis said. "We like Mark."

- Loomis said Brees or any player restructuring a deal to help the Saints with its tight salary-cap issue is still possible, but he's "trying to avoid restructures."

- Loomis said the Saints have not based their offseason on trying to matchup against certain teams like Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC.

As for Seattle, which defeated the Saints in the regular season and playoffs last year, Loomis said: "We want to get homefield advantage and have them come to the Superdome."

That’d certainly be wise. New Orleans was undefeated at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome the last two campaigns coach Sean Payton was on the sidelines.