Saints should be thinking about youth movement

ed_daniels    As free agency kicks off, here’s hoping that the Saints are not very active.
    The last thing the 2013 New Orleans Saints need is overpriced veteran free agents. While not needing a youth movement, the Saints need to get younger.
    A telltale sign for the Saints is fourth-quarter points. In 2011, the Saints were the highest-scoring, fourth-quarter team in the NFL at 10.7 points per game.
    One year later, the Saints took a nosedive down to just 5.8 fourth-quarter points a game.
    In the Saints’ Super Bowl season (2009), they averaged 8.5 points a game in the fourth quarter.
    In 2012, it seems hard to believe, but the Saints were a team that could not finish.
    And, you can’t blame it all on the defense.
    Here are some fourth-quarter scores: Chiefs 11, Saints 0; 49ers 3, Saints 0; Falcons 6, Saints 0; Giants 17, Saints 0. That’s right: four times in the fourth quarter last season, the Saints were shut out.
    Before and since his return, Saints head coach Sean Payton has watched a lot of tape. He will see a Saints team that lacks foot speed on offense and defense. And, hopefully, he will aim to correct it via the draft.
    The 49ers are in position to contend for a Super Bowl title for years to come because of homegrown talent.
    In 2006, San Francisco selected tight end Vernon Davis with the sixth pick in the draft. One year later, the 49ers landed linebacker Patrick Willis and offensive tackle Joe Staley with first-round picks.
    In 2009, San Francisco’s first pick was wide receiver Michael Crabtree. In 2010, the 49ers drafted guard Mike Iupati with the 17th pick in the draft. One year later, the seventh pick in the draft for San Francisco was outside linebacker Aldon Smith of Missouri. Smith set an NFL record for sacks in his first two seasons with 33.5.
    Twenty-nine picks later, the 49ers drafted Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Round 2.
    The grooming of Kaepernick to take over the starting job is allowing San Francisco to trade quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City for a pair of second-round draft choices.
    The Saints have had their share of success in free agency. In 2009, they got a career year from safety Darren Sharper. In 2006, the Saints acquired a franchise quarterback (Drew Brees) in free agency.
    But would Brees have been available if not for a serious shoulder injury suffered at the end of 2005?
    What the Saints need right now is another 2006 draft. That draft, in Payton’s first season, brought the club four current starters. They are safety Roman Harper, guard Jahri Evans, offensive tackle Zach Strief and wide receiver Marques Colston.
    Payton is a smart talent evaluator. This spring, he will look even smarter if he doesn’t chase too much fool’s gold, which is NFL veteran free agency.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

Site Administrator

➤ Lloyd Robichaux | Site Administrator | Art Director | Webmaster | lrobichaux@clarionherald.org | (504) 596-3024 | Fax: (504) 596-3020

You May Also Like