When free agency 2012 kicked off, the New Orleans Saints were one of the most active teams on the market, mainly because they had to be. The Saints traded their first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft back in 2011 when they moved into the first round to select Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winning tailback, Mark Ingram.
They lost their second round pick due to the Bountygate scandal that has been all over ESPN this offseason, most annoyingly so. This article will not discuss the details of Bountygate since I am incredibly annoyed by all the talk unless it pertains to draft selections or potentially suspended players. Obviously the loss of head coach Sean Payton will hurt the team a bit, but the biggest disadvantage for the Saints right now is their contract stalemate with quarterback Drew Brees.
The Saints didn’t get any worse this offseason, really, but it’s hurting the team to not have Brees in camp. When he returns, all will be well again but I don’t like the message it sends to the team arguing about whether he’ll be making millions upon millions of dollars over three years, four years, or five.
When healthy, this Saints team is one of the most dominant in the NFL, but when you look over their roster, they lack great depth across the board. If the Saints were to suffer an injury anywhere in their starting lineup besides running back or maybe receiver, they would be in big trouble if you ask me. Not having their top two draft picks in 2012 really hurt the team’s overall ability to add depth and talent to the roster, but here’s the class of 2012 for New Orleans:
- Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina
- Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
- Corey White, S, Samford
- Andrew Tiller, OL, Syracuse
- Marcel Jones, OT, Nebraska
Wisconsin TE Jacob Byrne; Washburn OL Brian Folkerts; Temple LB Stephen Johnson; Arkansas S Jerico Nelson; Georgia Southern DB Laron Scott; Arizona State OL Aderious Simmons; Tulsa DT Tyrunn Walker
2012 NFL Draft Recap and Analysis
Hicks’ collegiate career started out at LSU where he didn’t last long and wound up playing at Regina College in Canada. The Saints did a good job in free agency over the Spring adding Broderick Bunkley to their defensive line, but getting depth was a must and Hicks is a guy who is very raw but will have to come in and play a big role early on in his career. He has excellent size at around 6’5″ 318 pounds, and had a really good workout at the Combine as well as at the East-West Shrine Game this offseason. The Saints drafted Hicks because they like his tenacity, work habits, and resiliency. The fact that he is raw has obviously crossed their minds a time or two, but they spent a lot of time on him in the pre-draft process, and it’s safe to say that New Orleans is happy with their pick. This pick is upgraded by the fact that Steve Spagnuolo is now in charge of the New Orleans defense. You may have seen his work with the 2007 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and last year’s sack tandem in St. Louis with Robert Quinn and Chris Long.
2. Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
Nick Toon, aside from having an awesome name, is a big play wide receiver who missed some time last year (four games) due to injury, but is a guy who can really come into the NFL and help someone’s team. He’s probably not going to be a superstar, and I think he compares favorably to Niles Paul, who went in the fifth round to the Washington Redskins. He doesn’t offer similar upside in the return game because he lacks the experience that Paul has in that area, and with such a young quarterback, he probably won’t put up huge numbers as a receiver either. However, he returns for his senior season as the unquestioned top receiver on the team, and has shown an ability to make plays in his career. Over the last two seasons, he has caught 90 passes for 1,364 yards and seven touchdowns. Big possession receiver who will have a lot of experience blocking downfield, and understands route running concepts. I would probably give him a late round grade at this point, but if he can prove healthy and show that he is the playmaker we all know he can be, he could sneak into the middle rounds because of his size and experience in a pro style offense.
Good size…catches the ball in traffic…shields defenders off the ball…plus short area lateral quickness…son of former Jets great Al Toon…not a yards after the catch monster, but does ok…physical…adjusts wells to throws and does a decent job of catching the ball at it’s highest point….
Doesn’t always catch the ball cleanly…missed four games in 2010 because of injuries…no fumbling problems…not a consistent downfield option….limited production (because he plays in a run heavy offense?)…not a great route runner…Small hands
I’m not ready to put Toon in the category of a potential first round pick is what I wrote earlier in the year and I think that’s come about now. He’s a late 2nd, or third round pick. He lacks the explosiveness that teams covet for a number one Wide receiver in the league. Teams don’t generally look to select #2 WR types unless they are looking for a 1A kind of WR to give them a dynamic offense (think the drafting of Julio Jones). That is Toon. He is going to be a physical, solid possession WR in the N.F.L, but he’s not going to be dynamic in between the twenties though he could become a very nice red-zone option and solid contributor who might have a season or two of 900-1100 yards in his career and he will have a long N.F.L. career, but I don’t think he’s ever a pro bowl WR.
When Russell Wilson was finished playing his college ball at North Carolina State and moved on to Wisconsin, I’m not sure many saw what kind of impact that move would have on senior receiver Nick Toon, who really make a name for himself in 2011.
When Wilson was leading the Badgers with a Heisman type campaign, many who were optimistic about his NFL future said he has some similarities in his game to those of Drew Brees, a future Hall of Fame quarterback who–like Wilson–is hovering around 6’0″ as a quarterback, which is about as short as you’ll see at that position.
Now, not only has Toon benefit from the emergence of Russell Wilson, he will get to play his pro ball (hopefully) with Drew Brees, who has yet to report to Saints camp due to his contract situation.
If and when Brees gets to camp, I think he’s really going to like what he sees in his new weapon. Toon is a big, reliable receiver capable of making plays down the field and across the middle. He brings much of what current Saints receiver Marques Colston brings to the table–size. Colston is a bit taller, but obviously at Wisconsin, you could see that one of Toon’s biggest strengths was his ability to overwhelm defenders.
He certainly doesn’t replace what Robert Meachem took to San Diego in terms of speed, but he is definitely capable of making plays in the red zone and getting points on the board for New Orleans.
The Saints don’t have much to worry about with Meachem leaving and Toon arriving, in my opinion. It might take him some time, but he should develop into a fine player for this team especially with the attention the other players on the roster will be receiving.
This was a very interesting pick for the Saints, who were obviously intrigued by White’s combination of overall size and speed. He is only 6’0″ tall, but he is over 200 p0unds and ran a 4.39 second 40 yard dash at his Pro Day and had a 38 1/2 inch vertical leap. That’s a pretty stellar couple of measurables for a guy coming out of Samford, not a place I know much of their football history. White was projected to the NFL as a strong safety but he will play cornerback for the Saints as well as a key role on special teams. Overall, the Saints really don’t have great depth at the cornerback position or in the defensive backfield in general, and White can play a versatile role for the team.
The Saints selected Tiller to provide their offensive line with some depth, and he will certainly do that. The massive offensive line prospect was a first-team All-Big East performer in 2011 and started 25 of his 35 games as a member of the Orange, where he blocked for two 1,000 yard rushers. The Saints’ offensive line could have really solid depth if Tiller is a guy who can play multiple positions for them, which he should be able to.
Jones has some injury question marks, which is likely a big reason why he fell, but the massive (6’6″ 320 pounds) offensive tackle prospect has really good feet and was a mauling run blocker for the Cornhuskers. He is not a very good overall athlete, but the guy can play football and when he is healthy, he’s not a bad option as a backup tackle. He could be penciled in as the backup left tackle for New Orleans almost immediately.
Key Offseason Additions
OL Ben Grubbs (Ravens)
LB Curtis Lofton (Falcons)
LB David Hawthorne (Seahawks)
DT Broderick Bunkley (Broncos)
LB Chris Chamberlain (Rams)
Key Offseason Losses
OL Carl Nicks (Buccaneers)
WR Robert Meachem (Chargers)
CB Tracy Porter (Broncos)
Projected Depth Chart (Offense)
QB: Drew Brees, Chase Daniel, Luke McCown
RB: Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Chris Ivory
WR1: Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Courtney Roby
WR2: Devery Henderson, Nick Toon (R), Adrian Arrington
TE: Jimmy Graham, David Thomas, Mike Higgins
LT: Jermon Bushrod, Marcel Jones (R)
LG: Ben Grubbs, Eric Olsen
C: Brian De La Puente, Matt Tennant
RG: Jahri Evans, Andrew Tiller (R)
RT: Charles Brown, Zach Streif
Projected Depth Chart (Defense)
DE: Cameron Jordan, Turk McBride
DT: Broderick Bunkley, Remi Ayodele
DT: Sedrick Ellis, Akiem Hicks (R)
DE: Will Smith, Martez Wilson, Junior Gallette
LB: Scott Shanle, Chris Chamberlain
LB: Curtis Lofton, Jonathan Vilma (suspended)
LB: David Hawthorne, Jonathan Casillas, Nate Bussey
CB: Jabari Greer, Johnny Patrick
CB: Patrick Robinson, Corey White (R)
FS: Malcolm Jenkins, Jonathon Amaya
SS: Roman Harper, Isa Abdul-Quddus
K: Garrett Hartley
P: Thomas Morstead
LS: Justin Drescher